We repeat history in hopes that it doesn’t repeat itself and I imagine that was the intention behind adapting the true story of Michelle Carter as a series. Premiering on Hulu on March 29th and based on an Esquire article, The Girl from Plainville dramatizes the “Texting suicide” case of an attention-starved teenager. It’s a sad story and one that becomes increasingly difficult to watch while also being addictive.
Elle Fanning stars as Michelle Carter, a girl who engages in a primarily text-based relationship with a boy named Conrad “Coco” Roy III (Colton Ryan). Told nonlinearly, the series begins with a few text exchanges, with Michelle asking Coco if he’s doing it, if he’s finally killing himself. It then jumps to her coming downstairs sobbing to her parents that her boyfriend died, causing them to question who she’s even talking about.
Each episode opens with a disclaimer about the fact that while the events that inspired the series are true, creative liberties have been taken. It’s unclear where the line between reenactment and factionalized moments are drawn, but it can be assumed that they are the most revealing of moments for Michelle. Elle Fanning is incredible in the role, playing coy with her friends while also showing hints of the character's inner mechanisms. A scene in the third episode where she rehearses a speed she lifted from Glee in front of a mirror makes Fanning a cinch for at least an Emmy nomination for the series.
Portraying Coco’s parents are Chloë Sevigny as Lynn Roy and Norbert Leo Butz Conrad “Co” Roy II. Part of the reason the series becomes so addictive is watching them respond to their deceased son’s girlfriend suddenly inserting herself into their lives after Coco commits suicide. And with an investigator having noticed a peculiar text exchange on the boy’s cellphone with a girl who encouraged his suicide, you are essentially waiting for the shoe to inevitably drop.
Because the narrative jumps around, audiences get to piece the full story together as the show plays out. Ultimately, The Girl from Plainville was created as entertainment, born from a heartbreaking tragedy. That fact is a little troublesome, but if it ultimately prevents something like this from happening again, there’s a silver lining to your guilt as you find yourself watching and enjoying the limited series. It also provides an avenue for talking about mental health and the importance of suicide prevention programs.
I give The Girl from Plainville 4 out of 5 nods to Glee.
The Girl from Plainville premieres on March 29th on Hulu.