Recommended: The Girl From Plainville on Hulu
What's The Girl From Plainville About?
It's based on the actual case of high school student Michelle Carter, who was tried for manslaughter after her manipulative text messages were blamed for pushing her boyfriend to suicide.
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
The Michelle Carter case isn't just lurid: It's lurid in a very modern way. The idea of teenagers using text messages to coerce each other into tragic acts prods our anxiety that technology has robbed us — and especially our children — of the ability to make meaningful personal connections. Additional details, like Carter's obsession with the show Glee, only stoke the notion that Conrad Roy's death was a devastating product of our media-numbed age.
This is what crime dramas are made to explore. We look to these shows not only because there's dark allure in watching people do terrible things, but also because it's comforting to see a concrete story emerge from our amorphous social fears. Sometimes, these stories can be elegant, subtle, and artistically exhilarating, and sometimes they can be tawdry, exploitative, and ruthlessly sensational. Both have their merits.
The Girl From Plainville would seem to be positioning itself as high art, but it's much easier to enjoy as above-average pulp. Because, come on: In one episode, we see Michelle recite an entire Glee monologue in the mirror while she weeps and pretends it's about her life. Elle Fanning's performance is filled with snot, tears, and affected clutches of her chest. The camera keeps cutting to the episode of Glee on her laptop to make sure we appreciate the tonal similarity. This is high drag.
Similarly, at one of Michelle and Conrad's few in-person meet-ups, they buy a pair of matching bunny ears at a tacky gift shop. Later, we see Michelle crying about Connor's death while trying tear to the bunny ears in half, and we also see his mom weeping as she buries a dead bunny in her yard. The only thing missing from this heavy symbolism is a scene of Coco's father wearing a Bugs Bunny tie while he looks at the kid's yearbook photo.
These gestures are so audacious that they're spectacular, and they don't let up when Michelle's case goes to trial. The good news is that everyone in the cast has the gusto needed to make it work. While there is probably a much more thoughtful study of this case to be made, it's okay that The Girl From Plainville goes in a different, yet undeniably entertaining direction. If you're gonna be trashy, be trashy like this.
Pairs well with
TOPICS: The Girl From Plainville, Hulu, Aya Cash, Cara Buono, Chloe Sevigny, Colton Ryan, Elle Fanning, Kelly AuCoin, Lisa Cholodenko, Liz Hannah, Liz Hannah, Michael Mosley, Norbert Leo Butz, Patrick Macmanus, Peter Gerety, Pippa Bianco, Zetna Fuentes