Well, I tried.
I really did. Coming off of the high that I got off reviewing each episode of The Dropout, I thought it would be pretty easy to review all 8 episodes of The Girl From Plainville but, having watched the fifth episode last night, I think I’m done.
Don’t get me wrong. I will continue to watch the series. (There’s only three weeks left.) And I’ll certainly include any thoughts that I have about the show in my “Week in Television” post. But I think I’m done with trying to come up with 500-1000 words to use to review each episode because, quite frankly, there’s just not much to say about The Girl From Plainville. The story of how Michelle Carter encouraged Conrad Roy to commit suicide is well-known. The fact that Michelle Carter was put on trial and convicted is also well-known. This show is trying to build-up suspense about a story that most viewers will already know.
It perhaps wouldn’t matter if The Girl From Plainville had something new or unexpectedly insightful to say about the case. But the fact of the matter is that Michelle Carter is not that interesting of a human being. Everything that I’ve read and seen about the case seems to suggest that she really didn’t have much going on inside of her brain. Because she lacked an actual personality, Michelle learned how to behave and how to interact through social media and television. Conrad’s death allowed her to live her life as if it was an episode of Glee, or at least that’s what Michelle was hoping. And now, years after Conrad’s suicide, Michelle is out of prison and being played in a miniseries by Elle Fanning. It doesn’t seem to be quite fair, does it?
As for last night’s episode, it felt pretty much like a filler episode. The prosecution team continued to build a case against Michelle while Michelle had to deal with going from briefly being the most popular girl in school to being an absolute pariah. We also got a few clumsily handled flashbacks to Michelle texting Conrad. Last weekend, I watched Dopesick, which also aired on Hulu and also used a jumbled timeline. The timeline in Dopesick did occasionally get confusing but, at the same time, it worked because it took place over several years and the actors could be made to look older or younger, depending on the timeline. If Michael Keaton had a hint of hair, you know the show was taking place in the 90s. If he was bald, you know it was 2004. The Girl From Plainville, on the other hand, is only dealing with a two-year period and, as such, it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening when. The characters played by Elle Fanning and Chloe Sevigny pretty much look and act the same in 2012 as they do in 2014. It’s a very clumsily constructed story structure, one that does the miniseries little good.
That said, Elle Fanning continues to give a convincingly unhinged performance as Michelle and Colton Ryan is appropriately vulnerable as Conrad. (Sorry, I’m not going to call him Coco.) I think if the miniseries had done away with all of the flashback nonsense and just told their story in chronological order, Fanning and Ryan’s strong performances would have been better served. For now, I’m done with doing full reviews of this show but, if next week’s episode is a surprisingly good one, that could change.