Michelle and Coco’s epic love story starts to fall apart via an accurate depiction of teenage angst, but the series, unfortunately, falters with its need to cover an overly long eight-episode run.
This recap of the Hulu series The Girl from Plainville season 1, episode 5 contains spoilers.
Due to their long-distance relationship, it is very difficult to sympathize with Michelle and Coco. What they see as a tragic teen love affair is nothing more than a few text messages between two teens who once met on holiday. In “Mirrorball” they meet for only the second time in real life and spend the night together. Episode five splits between this fantastical past and the grim reality of Michelle’s present. The lawyers build their cases, whilst Michelle struggles with her return to school, dealing with alienation and the wrong kind of attention. The series continues to plow forwards towards the trial, although it feels unnecessarily longwinded and tedious at times.
The Girl from Plainville season 1, episode 5 recap
The narrative begins with the 2014 flashback timeline. Michelle and Coco are playing their kooky word association game, which quickly descends into something a little more X-rated. Coco asks for photos of Michelle and she obliges, although reluctantly. The filmmakers explore Michelle’s eating disorder in more detail, bringing an extra layer to her troubled story. We have seen hints of this in earlier chapters, although now the body image issues are pushed front and center.
A second timeline is set in 2015, after Coco’s death, focusing on the lawyers, as both sides work towards the impending trial. Michelle’s parents berate their lawyer, Joseph Cataldo (Ozark’s Michael Mosley), about a recent newspaper article. The headline “Manslaughter” instantly catches the viewer’s eye and infuriates her parents. These oblivious parents are then shown the endless text messages, with Michelle forced to read them out loud. One particular text message about drinking bleach unnerves them. Finally, they’re seeing this scandal from a different perspective.
Meanwhile, Katie Rayburn continues to search for the elusive motive of the case. Why would Michelle want her boyfriend to kill himself? They track down and interview Susie, Michelle’s old school friend, and possible love interest. Susie explains how Michelle became obsessive and how she ignored her, terminating their friendship. Katie believes she finally has a motive now. Michelle encouraged Coco to take his own life so she could use this tragic event to regain Susie’s full attention. It’s an insidious but plausible scenario, gleaning sympathy from her partner’s death.
The series may be outstaying its welcome when six episodes instead of eight would have probably sufficed, but there are some positives to The Girl from Plainville. Their depiction of an unhealthy obsession with body image and eating disorders are both important topics that need addressing. Furthermore, the show’s portrayal of teens is scarily accurate and painstakingly realistic, which too should be applauded. It just seems like the show is needlessly dragging out a storyline to fill the eight-episode quota when it is entirely unnecessary.