TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People coming to CBC Gem

Normal People, touted as one of the best book-to-series adaptations in recent years, made its debut in the U.K. and U.S. to much fanfare in late April, leaving many Canadian fans to wonder when they’ll get their chance to watch — until now.

CBC has acquired the rights to the coming-of-age drama, based on Irish author Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel of the same name. 

The Canadian premiere for the 12-part series, starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and newcomer Paul Mescal, is set for May 27, 2020 on CBC Gem, the broadcaster’s free streaming service,  with two new episodes premiering each Wednesday.

Normal People, set in a fictitious town in Ireland called Carricklea, is a coming-of-age story about two teenagers and classmates, Marianne and Connell, belonging to two different socio-economic backgrounds and opposite ends of the social hierarchy in school, who engage in an intimate relationship they are determined to keep a secret. 

“They’re far more concerned, at the beginning of their relationship when they’re both still in school, about the social gulf that separates them,” said Rooney in a 2019 interview with Writers & Company.

Though they continue to be drawn to one another, their relationship is repeatedly tested once they leave their town to study at Trinity College in Dublin, where the social dynamics between the two change.

“Being pulled out of their original social context and placed into a new one, where things like class and cultural capital take on a new significance, they are forced to rethink and re-evaluate the extent to which their relationship has been shaped by those sort of class differences,” said Rooney.

The 28-year-old writer talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her two novels, how she engages with the social conventions of her time and how her characters navigate coming-of-age in an Ireland itself reeling from the decline of the Celtic Tiger. 52:34

Normal People won the 2018 Costa Novel Award and was longlisted for the Booker Prize.

The novel was published in Canada in 2019.

The first six episodes in the series are directed by Irish filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson, who was also behind the Academy Award-nominated adaptation of Room by Canadian-Irish writer Emma Donaghue.

English director Hettie Macdonald is helming the final six.

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