Another lackluster episode that only really delivers in its final act, ending with a haunting musical number that promises a much more entertaining and twisted show.
This recap of the Hulu series The Girl from Plainville season 1, episode 7, “Teenage Dirtbag,” contains spoilers.
In the previous episode, the trial of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Michelle Diana Carter commenced with both sides having ample opportunity to plead their case. In a similar vein to the justice system itself, the filmmakers seem unsure which side of the discussion to lean towards, sitting well and truly on the fence. Creator Liz Hannah continues to portray Michelle in a polarising fashion, sometimes as the perpetrator and other times as the victim. “Teenage Dirtbag” may be unsure how to frame Michelle, but it has no issues broadcasting Coco’s suicidal tendencies.
The Girl from Plainville season 1, episode 7 recap
Back in 2014 and Coco has had enough. This episode hones in on his suicidal thoughts as he becomes more comfortable discussing them with his girlfriend and starts to actively begin the process of talking himself into a second attempt on his life. He tells Michelle that he is never satisfied and that there is no changing his mind now. Michelle quickly accepts this notion, although she speaks differently with her friends. Elle Fanning’s depiction of Michelle also polarises, flitting between manic and supportive. She’s a real enigma of a character and the final moments of episode seven address her fractured mental state in more detail.
The trial trudges on in the 2017 timeline, with the defense interviewing key witness Dr. Peter Breggin. Interestingly, the episode opens with a statement suggesting that the doctor’s thoughts and opinions have been widely disputed. Breggin argues that the medication Coco was on resulted in a higher chance of suicide, whilst Michelle’s medication left her unsure of her own actions. He diagnosed her with involuntary intoxication, which again has been suspiciously disputed. Breggin also mentions her eating disorder and a predisposition to self-harm. Lawyer Katie Rayburn tears the defense apart, stating the diagnosis was miscalculated and there has been no recorded history of self-harm.
This is your standard courtroom drama, yet the tension seems lacking in this installment. The trial itself has lost its edge and trundles forwards. The only real excitement comes from Katie’s shock reveal that Breggin never even spoke with Michelle and that his diagnosis falls apart under closer inspection. The end scene offers a glimmer of hope, providing a disturbing conclusion to this chapter. Michelle attends her sister’s school concert and has visions of the choir aggressively surrounding and berating her, singing the titular song “Teenage Dirtbag”. The lyrics are fitting and this odd scene carries an unhinged, bizarre quality to it. The show could benefit from more of this insanity, which it sporadically hints at.
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