May 7, 2020

Connell From ‘Normal People’ Is The Internet’s New Boyfriend


He is our boyfriend, and we love him, and his beautiful chain.

You can only depend upon a few things in life, death, taxis, a new Spider-Man reboot in production — but in recent years we’ve also come to rely on the fact that the internet must ALWAYS have a boyfriend. And today I’m thrilled to crown our latest online paramour: Connell, from the TV show Normal People.

Internet boyfriends are an interesting phenomenon — our latest was probably Keanu Reeves, despite the fact that he could technically be the internet’s dad. Past alumni could include Timotheé Chalamet, Michael B. Jordan during the Black Panther press era, Tom Holland, Henry Golding, Cole Sprouse…

Some internet boyfriends seem to be forever and perpetual — Harry Style, for example, who we are all now in a comfortable yet passionate long-term affair with — or short, intense summer flings, tied to a specific film or moment. Some internet boyfriends are entirely fictional — I would say Peter Kavinsky from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was an internet boyfriend, yet I believe Noah Centineo failed to make the transition.

Connell, the fictional character from Normal People is definitely our new boyfriend. We’ve gone on a few dates, and we’re feeling it.

Normal People has swept the world like a gentle, melancholic storm, replacing  all the thunder, lightning, and dead pigeons with yearning and ennui. Adapted from the literary bestseller of the same name by Sally Rooney (Marxist), the show tells the story of two crazy kids in Ireland who just love to bone each other and communicate badly.

The show is definitely some gorgeous, beautifully crafted drama, and it dropped at the right time. While I might normally have found the pace too slow, the glances too intense, the feelings overly marinated with wanting — in isolation it was practically a rollercoaster ride in comparison with all the slow yearning sadness of my real life.

A huge reason for that popularity is the admirable devotion that Normal People has to fucking. Every episode is unbearably horny, and is basically all about either having some sex or wanting the sex. It is nice to watch these people have sex, as they are both extremely beautiful, sad people.

But ooft, the internet agrees that Connell hits a certain way.

I Want To Ride Down That Nose Like An Amateur Skier Accidentally Finding Their Way Onto A Black Diamond Run

Listen, I can’t convince you that Connell is hot if you can’t see it. How to explain the taste of roses to a man born without a head? How to describe fine cuisine to Mr Torso, and his nightmare existence?

While essays could be written about Connell’s lil butt, or his soulful eyes, or his tousled Irish hair, or his ARMS, that’s not all that gets me. And do not THINK that I am unaware of the multiple frontal peen shots were are given (equality, feminism, representation). And you can’t expect me to ignore how weirdly hot his trudgy little legs are when he wears shorts in Italy.

But friends, it’s that NOSE that drives me wild. It’s such a brutal flat escarpment atop a beautiful and hefty set of alps (his face). There’s something so proud and sensitive about his stupid face, I love it. He could actually headbutt me to death, and leave me in a bog to be discovered thousands of years later.

His face and head and skull look like they would weigh the same amount as a dense Christmas ham, and nothing is more erotic than that.

The Chain

As Fleetwood Mac once sang:

“Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)”

The world is going absolutely bananas for the thin silver chain that Connell habitually wears in Normal People, and I agree, it’s a weirdly effective prop. Some wonderful levelling of masculine and feminine traits. An excellent reminder of his muscular neck, holding up that magnificent chonky head.

A silver chain is just such an internet boyfriend trait, despite the fact that no other internet boyfriend has had one. It just is.

But it’s undeniable the effect that this chain has had — from multiple write-ups, to a dedicated Instagram account, to even the news that eBay Australia, has seen more than a 200% increase in sales of silver curb chains since the show started streaming on Stan.

“The hype surrounding the show — but even more bizarrely, Connell’s chain — has translated into a resurgence in male jewellery across Australia. Perhaps viewers want to capture some of Connell’s charming style, or treat themselves during isolation — whatever the reason, the item has certainly caused a chain reaction!” says eBay Australia’s Sophie Onikul.

The chain alone would frankly give him internet boyfriend status.

Just A Normal People

While I could go on about Connell’s various physical features (and I have, and I will strike again), the defining feature of an internet boyfriend is a certain dreaminess of spirit.

Connell, in the end, is a dreamboat because he’s a sensitive, tortured, gentle soul — shy, and usually well-meaning, very kind. But he also isn’t Disneyfied into bland slop of niceness– the premise of the show hinges on Connell acting callous, and even cruel, towards Marianne, because of his insecurities. He’s depressed, he’s sad, he’s grumpy.

He’s got his flaws — and we obviously don’t celebrate them, or find them attractive in themselves– but the show lets us find him attractive because of his supposed realness.

Part of the new curse of the internet boyfriend is that people just… gloss over a lot of these flaws. Please remember that scene where his mum gets out of his car, appalled at his treatment of Marianne, before welding the rose-tinted glasses to your face.

However, he is definitely a goddamn treat still. Some dreamboat realness that he serves: constantly reading books, speaking in an Irish accent (he is Irish), getting uncomfortable when he enters big houses, staring for hours at a famous painting while wearing dirty sneakers. Fuck!

Genuinely, if there’s an opposite to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, it is Connell, the Depressed Irish Dream Boy.

Paul Mescal seems like a lovely person, and an extremely talented actor — it could very well be the case that he goes on to charm and beguile us all as an entity separate from Connell, and becomes our boyfriend. It will probably only take like one talkshow appearance, to be honest.

But even if not, which is fine, we’ll always have this moment, where Connell from Normal People was our internet boyfriend, and we loved him.

Normal People is currently streaming on Stan.


Patrick Lenton is the Editor of Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.





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