The Rewind

Watching THAT Normal People Sex Scene With Your Parents: A Reaction

Watching THAT Normal People Sex Scene With Your Parents: A Reaction

Like the novel that inspired it, Normal People is not a TV programme about sex. It's a programme about the pained process of becoming that all of us go through. Its protagonists have sex, but they do other things. Not all of us spent our time in university having the heaps of sex that Connell and Marianne enjoy - or going to pool parties - but the show has done a miraculous thing. It's gotten Irish people across generations talking about sex.

By the time its run is complete in three weeks, Normal People will have made a lasting contribution to the national conversation around sexuality. In the early episodes, Connell provides young men with a primer on consent. The episodes aired last night on RTE broadcast the longest sex scene in Irish TV history, and also featured frank conversations about threesomes.

There so few examples of realistic sexuality from the pantheon of Irish film and television that Normal People can feel slightly like watching a sex education video in school. But it's more than that.

While the sex scene might dying out, director Lenny Abrahamson clearly thought viewers needed these scenes in order to fully grasp the connection that Connell and Marianne share.

And it's part of the story and, as you'll see the series go on, it tells you things about the two characters and therefore to do it justice we felt obliged to be truthful to that aspect of it.

Due to the lockdown, some people are watching a lot more TV with their parents than they're used to. And, inevitably, last night got awkward.

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I watched the episode with my in-laws. It was, on one level, horrific. It would be strange if it wasn't. But on another level, it was a cathartic experience.

'How do you think ye were born?' my mother-in-law declared to the room about two minutes in to the scene, to much laughter.

It was a timely question that burst the awkward silence in the room. As a country, we're not at a point where watching 4 minute and 40 second sex scenes with our folks is comfortable. Maybe in Scandinavia that happens, but here, sex is difficult to discuss and rarely confronted without alcohol.

But last night's Normal People has brought us closer to a place where watching sex scenes with our parents might be bearable.

Donny Mahoney

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