Normal People’s Paul Mescal Responds To Criticism The Show Is ‘Pornographic’

by : Lucy Connolly on : 04 May 2020 13:12
Normal People's Paul Mescal Responds To Criticism The Show Is 'Pornographic'BBC

Ever since Normal People hit our screens, the show has been lavished with praise for its honest depiction of teenage romance, sex and consent.

The show’s sex scenes are frequent and real, with the focus always being on the mutual enjoyment of its main characters, Marianne (Daisy Edgar Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal).


But while many recognise this ‘honest’ and ‘refreshing’ approach is what makes Normal People so special, a small minority have criticised its depiction of sex – leading Mescal to speak out on the issue.

Normal PeopleBBC

Based on Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel of the same name, Normal People tells the story of teenagers and lovers Marianne and Connell as they journey into adulthood.

Set in Ireland, the series follows Marianne and Connell as they initially meet at college – where Marianne is an intelligent, wealthy loner and Connell is the popular jock from a less well-off background – and then later at university, where their roles somewhat reverse.


Despite their differences, the pair’s sexual and intellectual connection proves so intense that they are inevitably drawn back together each time they try to break apart – something accurately depicted throughout the series via its sex scenes.

Normal PeopleBBC

Its these sex scenes which have prompted criticism from some viewers though, with Normal People last week being debated on RTÉ Radio 1’s talkshow Liveline, as per The Independent.

After host Joe Duffy praised the acting and portrayal of consent throughout the series, a number of listeners called in to voice their own opinions, with some branding the show ‘immoral’ and ‘pornographic’.


One woman claimed the scenes were like ‘something you’d expect to see in a porno movie’, while another listener said: ‘It’s morally wrong, it’s fornication. Is the national broadcaster promoting fornication?’

normal people sex sceneLucy Connolly

Following the backlash, Paul Mescal has defended the scenes and said he’s ‘incredibly proud’ to have been part of them, particularly because he and the team worked ‘very hard’ to get them just right.

Speaking on The Late Late Show, he said:


I actually listened in [to Liveline] yesterday, and I suppose I was a bit surprised, but the last thing I want to do here is sit and judge people for that, because they’re obviously entitled to their opinion.

But my own perspective of it is that I think we worked very hard to make it feel like it was a real, accurate and truthful representation of sex amongst young people today. It’s actually something I’m incredibly proud of and I’m really proud to see on Irish screens, personally.


In a separate interview, the actor pointed to Hollywood ‘play[ing] a massive role’ in making sex so taboo in our society, telling The Independent: ‘It portrays sex in a way that isn’t true to life.’

He said Hollywood must ‘hold their hands up and say they haven’t helped with that’, adding that porn has also been a ‘massive educator in terms of how people see sex’.

Mescal continued:

It can be a really tricky transition from watching scenes like that to encountering sex in your own life for the first time. That’s why I was so excited when I read the Normal People script.

normal people connellBBC

Well, what are you waiting for?

If you haven’t already, you can watch Normal People on BBC iPlayer now.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Film and TV, Ireland, Porn, Sex, Sex and Relationships


The Independent and 2 others