Review by Tatiana Miranda
Within the past two months, there has been an abundance of fictionalized true crime-related miniseries released, such as Pam & Tommy, Joe Vs. Carole, WeCrashed, Inventing Anna, and The Dropout. Of those recent titles, two are from Hulu, which follows the success of their 2019 true crime-based drama The Act, which is about the life and actions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Hulu's newest fictionalized miniseries, The Girl from Plainville, recounts the death of Conrad "Coco" Roy and the indictment of his girlfriend, Michelle Carter. In 2014, Roy died due to suicide-by-manipulation from Michelle Carter, who was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months.
Similar to how Gypsy Rose Blanchard's actions were portrayed in The Act, The Girl from Plainville attempts to show the case in a not necessarily black and white way. Based on the Esquire article of the same name and the 2019 documentary I Love You, Now Die, the show goes beyond the court case and attempts to give an understanding of what led to Carter's actions. In a Good Morning America interview, Elle Fanning, who plays Michelle Carter, stated that the media portrayed the case in a "one-dimensional way" that didn't showcase all the nuances involved. Through interpretations of text messages between Carter and Roy and imagined scenes shown from Carter's point of view, the series gets this point across.
Although The Girl from Plainville achieves its goal of portraying the case with nuance, it also takes an abundance of creative liberties that aren't based on even a bit of factuality. For instance, there are regularly moments in the show that showcase Carter's imagination, such as a musical scene between her and Roy singing "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" in the style of her favorite Glee characters, Finn and Rachel. Moments like this are an attempt to show how Carter might've viewed their relationship. Still, since it's not based on anything, it's likely added for entertainment value and instead turns what should be a dark and eye-opening story into something pulled out of Riverdale.
Beyond the surreal moments like this, the series as a whole has flaws in its way of storytelling. The series jumps back and forth from Carter and Roy's interactions to the consequences of his death, such as Carter's court trial. While the series takes a unique creative direction in showing texts between the two as face-to-face conversations, it doesn't make up for the lack of creativity everywhere else. In Yhara zayd's YouTube video, "hi, not everything needs to be a fictionalized miniseries, kthxbye", she points out that with series like The Girl from Plainville, sometimes the stories realistically are not interesting enough to be fictionalized. This is especially true with The Girl from Plainville since it's based on a profile article and documentary, which both portray the case in the same way as the show.
While fictionalized miniseries can provide a unique insight into certain cases, the abundance that has come out recently seems to be regurgitating the same information portrayed in other forms. Even though the cast of The Girl from Plainville gives their all, the series lacks any interesting perspective that differs from its source material.
The Girl from Plainville streams on Hulu beginning March 29, with new episodes streaming subsequent Tuesdays. All eight episodes reviewed.