Normal People the Series: The Sex Scenes Analyzed

Normal People the series (BBC/Hulu) is being lauded for its positive depiction of sex. Having just read Sally Rooney’s source novel, there very little explicit sex in her text. It’s mostly a simple “we had sex”. There’s one count of “get on top of her”, implying missionary, and one of “touched her until she came” during a period, but otherwise, no guidance. So we have to assume that the details of the on-screen sex were left to the writers and directors.

What we do know is that one of the main characters is definitely a submissive. That drives some of the expected sexual positions. Her partners would need to play the dominant, and in fact Marianne instructs them to, saying “anything you want” and “you can do anything you want to me”. This is how the sex breaks down per episode.

Episode 1: None

Episode 2: (All Connell and Marianne)
First encounter: Missionary
Second encounter: Cowgirl into missionary
Third encounter (car): Missionary
Fourth encounter: Face-to-face

Episode 3: None

Episode 4: None

Episode 5:
(Gareth and Marianne)
Before the Party: Missionary
(Connell and Marianne)
After the Party: Missionary into cowgirl

Episode 6: (Connell and Marianne)
Kitchen sink: Face-to-face
Morning: Missionary
Period: Fingering

Episode 7: (Jamie and Marianne)
Rough sex: Doggy (with hair pulling)

Episode 8: None

Episode 9:
(Connell and Helen)
Night: Face-to-face into cowgirl
(Lukas and Marianne)
Bound: Missionary
Aftermath: (not sure what position caused those bruises)
Photo shoot

Episode 10: None

Episode 11: (Connell and Marianne)
Afternoon: Spoon

Episode 12: (Connell and Marianne)
Final: Missionary into cowgirl

While watching the series, I noticed that there wasn’t even a hint of oral sex at any point, which is unusual. Sure, we can assume that it happened off camera. Realistically though, the absence is notable.

On the whole, the viewer may feel that the series has a LOT of sex scenes over its course. But if we look at the spread over time, it’s in bursts reflecting Connell and Marianne’s on-again-off-again relationship. Episode 2 rightfully has the most encounters, four of them, each one different including the scene in the car. Then they break up and we don’t see them bed each other again until the very end of Episode 5, when they reconcile in Dublin. We get the second burst in Episode 6, three trysts, again each one different, including one when Marianne has her period. We need to refer to the novel to know that Connell brings her to orgasm with his fingers, blood and all. Then they break up for the second time, and have sexual encounters with very different partners and experiences. They’re not together in bed again until Episode 11, which ends prematurely. We get one final redeeming encounter in Episode 12.

Connell and Marianne predominantly are in missionary, often linked with cowgirl. This is an interesting choice, because a submissive like Marianne may not want to be on top unless ordered to by her partner. Regardless, this becomes the seminal “home” position for them, especially after the much-lauded first time scene of Marianne. We only see them in two other positions, face-to-face twice (the second time is a picturesque gimmick with Marianne sitting on the kitchen counter), and the ill-fated spoon in Episode 11. Perhaps the spoon was a choice to somewhat link to Marianne’s encounter with Jamie, the only other time she’s taken from behind, which would fit how that ended. Taken as a whole, it preserves the series theme of “it’s not like this with other people”. I would like to think that sex with Connell is the only time that Marianne has ever felt completely safe and fulfilled in bed with someone.

Connell’s only non-Marianne sex scene is with Helen (although we have to acknowledge that he says he’s been with both Rachel and Teresa, but all off-screen so it doesn’t count for the viewers), where they start face-to-face and segue into cowgirl, two positions he’s been in with Marianne. This underscores that Connell’s feelings for Helen are true, and he does love her, but ultimately she doesn’t fit him as well as Marianne, including sexually. I’ve written how Helen was given short shrift in the series compared to the novel.

Marianne’s on-screen non-Connell sex scenes are painful. There’s the throwaway four-second scene with Gareth, with her looking bored and unimpressed. It’s in missionary, an automatic comparison to her experience with Connell, which spells doom for Gareth once he reenters her life. She dumps him a few scenes later. We only see her in doggy once, and it’s the brief, disturbing look at Jamie roughly taking Marianne from behind, with him yanking on her hair. Her expression in those five seconds looks a lot more like real pain than ecstasy. It’s possible the writers allotted the position for this purpose, linking doggy with Marianne’s masochistic streak. (It’s unfair to doggy of course, which is a common, much-loved position.) Jamie, as Marianne’s sadism/masochism partner, is terrible, and it’s clear from what she says during the coffee date that he is not taking care of her at all. The submissive should dictate the rules, and the dominant should listen and facilitate the sub’s experience. As noted above, this later links into Marianne getting into the unfamiliar (to Connell) spoon position, surprising him (he isn’t sure how to proceed), and surfacing her submissive masochistic streak that leads to the termination of that encounter since Connell isn’t equipped to deal with it (and he knows it, good for him).

The two Sweden encounters of Marianne with Lukas are difficult to watch, because she hands control of her body over to a man that not only doesn’t have her best interests in mind, he has no idea how to handle it properly. As Marianne’s bondage/discipline partner, Lukas sucks. The game they play involves verbal and physical degradation. We see him taking her in missionary with Marianne’s hands bound – a perversion of her “home” position with Connell. We see some aftercare, in the shower. But the photo shoot is a disgrace. There’s no safe word, so he must take “no” and especially “I don’t want to do this” at face value, which he does not. As Connell tells her, she doesn’t always have a good radar for detecting psychopaths. She got lucky that he didn’t hurt her more than he already did.

In the novel, Connell says that he eventually learns how to make Marianne submit without hurting her, hopefully meaning he learns safe and proper dominant skills: trust, respect, honesty and clear communication, all with an open mind. The two struggle with clear communication over the course of the series, and the hope is that Connell learned how to support Marianne’s fetishes properly.


Warning: This story contains a graphic sex scene.

House party. Weeknight. Didn’t know anyone there, other than the friend who brought me then promptly took off with a girl fifteen minutes after we arrived. I was thinking about leaving.

Tall. Long, straight black hair. Fair skin, at least around these parts. Around twenty maybe, but it could have been three years more or less. Hard to tell.

We caught each other’s eye, and “just happened” to bump into each other at the bar. She had a great smile, and an even greater sense of humor. We didn’t stick to each other, but kept “bumping into” each other over the next hour.

As far as I could tell she had at least six or seven drinks. When I finally got her alone in the foyer and kissed her, she definitely kissed back. Heck, she was the first one to stick her tongue down my throat.

Sure, she wasn’t walking straight when I pulled her up the stairs to the bedroom. Neither was I. Her arms were around me, clinging to me. I’m pretty sure she had rubbed against my crotch at least twice. There was no protest when I grabbed her ass. We made it to the room and she fell onto the bed as I turned the lamp on and locked the door.

I kicked my shoes off, and slipped hers off as well. It was all good as we were rolling around and making out on the bed. I remember thinking that it was kind of fun, acting like kids. We were both way into it. I helped her out of her shirt and jeans, then took my own shirt and jeans off. Then I took her bra off and started sucking on her nipples.

She groaned, and said “no”. Her hands had grabbed my hair, holding my head in place. I continued to attend to her boobs. Once every few seconds, in between the moans, she’d say “no”. Her big, round eyes looked right at me, with a kind of glassy look probably due to the alcohol.

I slid my hand between her legs, under her panties. Wet. Soaking wet. Her back arched at the slightest touch to her slit, accompanied by deep breathing. I slid my finger inside while my other hand slipped my boxers off. I was hard as a rock.

Off came her panties, and I slid between her legs. I grabbed her boobs as my cock poised to enter her. Her hands gripped my arms as my tip touched her entryway. Her breathing coming in short, shallow breaths, she said “no” three or four times while groaning as I entered her.

She was tight. Very tight. In the dim lamplight, I took it slow, trying not to hurt her. She gripped my arms tight, eyes closed. I’m not sure when she lost consciousness. It didn’t take long for me to orgasm. I wasn’t able to hold out long. Couldn’t have been more than two minutes, even though it felt like an eternity.

I had come inside her. When I pulled out, there was blood. While that may have meant she was a virgin, I would never find out.

I cleaned her up, dressed her and situated her comfortably on the bed. I made sure that she couldn’t choke on vomit or saliva. I left her there, exited the house and got in a cab.

We never even asked for each other’s names. It would have been a classic one-night stand, except for that word.

I will always remember that night, wonder what “no” really meant, and how she viewed what happened.

This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of February 5, 2015.

“Think about the last time you broke a rule (a big one, not just ripping the tags off your pillows). Were you burned, or did things turn out for the best?”

Rule broken: “No” means “no”.

Devil’s Advocate: You May Not Get Naked

This is starting to get out of hand. We now have so much nudity on television. All of these television shows that have bare breasts, and even genitalia. In the interests of morality, this all needs to be banned. Stringent censorship laws needs to be enacted globally to prevent young men and women from seeing naked bodies. We all know that seeing nudity drives the youth to premarital sex. It also unquestionably causes all of these sex crimes.

In fact, we need to go further. Today’s swimming attire can no longer be called clothing. Women’s bosoms are bursting out, and their bottoms are not covered at all! Even men now are wearing these swimming trunks that show massive bulges, which are guaranteed to inflame all the women that see it. This is all immoral and cannot be allowed to continue. The manufacture of this attire must be discontinued, and the more practical attire from the 1960s must be reintroduced.

Violence? Oh, that’s fine. Watching men get hacked to death on screen is perfectly acceptable. Body counts entertain an audience! After all, kids play video games where they shoot people and run them over with cars, then get away with it. Surely you can see that a pretty girl’s bare breasts are far worse than a pretty girl’s brains and intestines all over the floor?

I can’t take it any more. This ends here.

This post was written in response to The Daily Prompt for January 11, 2015, first published on March 17, 2013.

Pick a contentious issue about which you care deeply — it could be the same-sex marriage debate, or just a disagreement you’re having with a friend. Write a post defending the opposite position, and then reflect on what it was like to do that.

The post above reads to me like the ramblings of an imbecile. The debate about censorship of nudity and sex, vis-a-vis the non-censorship of all kinds of violence, is one of the most idiotic things ever. I’ll never understand how seeing a penis or vagina is considered far worse than seeing a human being eviscerate another human being with a chainsaw.

Bloody karate style fight? Ok! Sweaty doggy style sex? Not Ok!

Gorefests? Sure! Sausagefests? Banhammer!

Protagonist leaves a trail of dismembered bodies? Rated R! Protagonist has sex with a trail of naked people? Rated X!

Stupidest. Thing. Ever.