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Series / The Girl From Plainville

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The Girl from Plainville is a Hulu production. It's a dramatization of the death of Conrad Roy under mysterious circumstances and his girlfriend Michelle Carter's conviction for involuntary manslaughter, also known as the "texting suicide case".

Stars Elle Fanning as Michelle Carter, Cara Buono as Gail Carter, Chloƫ Sevigny as Lynn Roy, and Colton Ryan as Conrad Roy.

Tropes present in this work

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The miniseries was produced in 2022, but the events span the early/mid-2010s.
  • Abusive Parents: Conrad's father is physically abusive to him, one of the possible reasons for Conrad's suicide.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Michelle has close relationships with both Conrad and Susie, and she wonders aloud if it is possible to love two people at once.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Susie and Michelle have a strong romantic overtone to their relationship, though they are never physically intimate. When Susie learns that Michelle says "I love you" to Conrad, she is clearly hurt. But later, she tells Michelle that she's "not into girls" and stops talking to Michelle.
  • Beautiful Tears: Invoked for eerie effect. Michelle is shown staring at herself in the mirror as she cries. Though it's left ambiguous whether these are Crocodile Tears, it's suggested that she is as intrigued by the sight of herself crying as by the reason she's crying.
  • Consolation Backfire: Michelle tries to comfort Conrad when he is in a positively dark mood, but his response is to reject her words as more of the same things others tell him, and he even threatens to dump her.
  • Daydream Surprise: Michelle and her family attend a talent show where her sister Hayden is performing in a choir. Hayden announces that she wants to dedicate a special song to her sister and has her come up onstage. The choir breaks out with Wheatus's "Teenage Dirtbag" and they really get into it ("Her boyfriend's a DICK!"), surrounding Michelle and getting in her face. She gasps out loud and realizes it's just a daydream; the choir is performing a rather sedate version of Queen's "Somebody To Love".
  • Depraved Bisexual: Invoked. Michelle is never confirmed to be bisexual, but she forms deep relationships with both Susie and Carter, and Susie accuses her of being creepily over attached. It's left up to the audience's interpretation if this is a fair reading of Michelle's behavior or if Susie is blaming her for their Pseudo-Romantic Friendship, or something in the middle.
  • Fangirl: Michelle is a big fan of Glee and gets Susie to watch it with her. Later she has a Fantasy Sequence where she and Conrad are doing a cover of REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" as Rachel and Finn. When she copies Rachel's speech about Finn's death, it's implied that she may be an outright Loony Fan, but this (again) is left up to the audience's interpretation.
  • Fantasy Sequence: The show uses fantasy sequences to show Michelle and Conrad's emotional relationship because, in real life, they interacted almost exclusively over text messages. Michelle and Conrad are shown together, speaking their texts to one another. Some sequences are mostly grounded in reality (talking while walking down a street or standing on a pier), some blend reality and fantasy (after Conrad's grandfather gives him a truck, fantasizing about eloping to California together), and some are just out-and-out fantasy on Michelle's part (singing a duet as Glee's Rachel and Finn).
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: When Cassie and Natalie testify about their relationship with Michelle, Michelle comes across as desperate for their friendship, needy, and grateful for the smallest crumbs of their attention. In Cassie's case, it is clear that it was a "school" friendship and she was not interested in hanging out with Michelle outside of class.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Per The Other Wiki, Michelle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, sentenced to 15 months in prison, and paroled after 11 months.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: Conrad leaves a note for Michelle and another for his family. Michelle keeps asking Lynn for her note.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Sort of; the show portrays Michelle as very thin and with distinctive dark, thick Cara Delevingne-style eyebrows throughout the series. While this matches Michelle's real-life appearance at the time of the trial, before then, she was a much more average-looking teenage girl.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Michelle sees on Facebook that Natalie and Cassie were at a party and posts to FB, asking if they tried texting her to let her know about the party. Her sister has to remind her she is supposed to stay away from computers. She is also regularly shown to be desperate for any kind of friendship or acknowledgement, treating any display of kindness as far more meaningful than it was intended to be.
  • Important Haircut: Michelle gets her long hair cut short before being taken into custody. The hair appointment ends in an awkward moment when the hairstylist recognizes Michelle from the newspaper running a story on the case that ''just happens'' to be lying on the counter.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Michelle sobs to her friends over how much she is going to miss Conrad... then immediately asks them for advice as to what to wear at the funeral so that his family knows she cares.
    • Michelle takes over Conrad's friend's idea for a fundraiser for mental health awareness. She hosts it in her hometown instead of Conrad's, making it harder for his friends and family to attend.
  • No Social Skills: Michelle isn't entirely without social skills, but she's oblivious to how uncomfortable she makes other people feel. Conrad's family and friends feel uncomfortable with her inserting herself into memorial events for Conrad as she's essentially a stranger to them. She struggles to really connect with her friends at school, overwhelming them with her emotional neediness.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Michelle and Conrad's relationship develops almost exclusively over text. Conrad's sisters are busy with their phones during Mass, and their mom has to tell them to put them away.
  • Stepford Smiler: There is a montage of Michelle while she is in the hospital: eating a meal at a busy table yet looking lonely, getting her weight recorded with her back to the scale, and doing a self-portrait where she is calling for help. But when Michelle returns home, she is all smiles and tells her family that it was like a vacation.
  • Teens Are Monsters: One possible interpretation of Michelle's actions after Conrad's death is that she's soulless and entirely self-serving.
  • Troubled Teen: Both Conrad and Michelle qualify. Before meeting Michelle, Conrad had Attempted Suicide and spent some time in a hospital. Michelle struggles with making friends and is hospitalized for an eating disorder.
  • Uptown Girl: A mild example. Michelle's family is distinctly upper middle class, while Conrad comes from a blue-collar background, working on the family tugboat. There's some uneasiness when Michelle and Conrad's respective mothers meet; Michelle's mother stages homes on the real estate market, and Conrad's mother lives in a rental house.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Michelle was sentenced to 15 months for involuntary manslaughter, but was released after 11 months due to good behavior. Conrad Roy II (Conrad's father) ran in the 2018 Boston Marathon in his son's honor to raise awareness of mental health. Lynn worked with politicians on a bill called "Conrad's Law" that would make suicide coercion punishable with up to 5 years in prison.