Michelle Carter was 17 years old when she convinced her boyfriend, Conrad Henry Roy III, to commit suicide in 2014. The case made headlines everywhere as soon it was discovered that Carter had been texting Roy the night of his death. These troubling text messages revealed how Carter encouraged and pressed Roy to take his own life.
After eight years of Carter’s sentencing for involuntary manslaughter, Hulu has recently come out with “The Girl from Plainville,” an eight-episode series that explores the relationship between Carter and Roy up to the night where the anguish began. Elle Fanning, who portrays Carter, depicts Carter as an egotistical and self-centered teenager who tries to make Roy’s death center around her. One scene that highlights this is in episode one where Carter mimics and practices a mournful speech from Lea Michele’s “Glee” character as she pays homage to her deceased co-star, Cory Monteith. It is a creepy scene as you watch her attempt to perfect her imitation of the monologue to practice her mourning for Conrad. From singing the song to faking the tears sliding down her cheeks, Fanning highlights the complexity of Carter’s mind in this eerie scene.
The show does a good job of focusing on every character as they struggle with their emotional trauma. Colton Ryan, who portrays Conrad, depicts the mental health struggles the young teenager was battling before meeting Carter in Florida during a family vacation. To prepare for the role, Ryan stated how he explored several images of Roy, including a high school graduation photo where Roy is seen standing happily beside his two sisters. The photos revealed a part of Roy for Ryan, and he felt an instant connection to the late teenager that he is able to show through his portrayal of Roy’s constant fight against the world.
Chloë Sevigny who portrays Conrad’s mother, Lynn Roy, recently said that the show contained a lot of “tough material” due to its sensitive topic of suicide. Her main goal was to represent the case in a sensitive manner that would be respectful towards the Roy family, and she accomplishes this through her heartfelt acting. She embodies the grief that Lynn Roy must have felt as she was forced to endure the reality of a parent’s worst nightmare. It was also heartbreaking to see the fights between Lynn and her ex-husband, Conrad H. Roy, Jr. (Norbert Leo Burtz) after their son’s death. The show depicts their strained relationship in the first few episodes as they both suffer from the same pain.
A notable aspect of “The Girl from Plainville” is the fact that the show does stick to many of the case’s true facts despite it being labeled as a drama series. There are certain scenes that are dramatized, such as Carter imagining a conversation between her and Roy in the middle of the night, or when Carter is seen screaming in her room after her electronic belongings are confiscated by the police. Though we may never know how Carter reacted to that particular event, this depiction of it reminds viewers that every guilty person will get caught in their own lies.
“The Girl from Plainville” revolves around mental health. This theme is a heavy subject that many viewers can relate to or feel uncomfortable with. One of the messages that this show has been able to communicate is that mental health should always be an important subject for young teenagers. Roy was, unfortunately, suffering from mental health conditions, and the show visibly portrays it to raise more awareness.
This show is about Conrad Roy. It is in no way defending Carter’s actions. It is made known in the show that Carter did suffer from mental health conditions like Roy, but the show does not use this to excuse her behavior. It depicts how both teenagers were suffering and how they bonded over their struggles, but Carter made the wrong choice when convincing Roy to take his life. It’s an emotional show that dives into the personal lives of everyday people whose world was turned upside down because of one teenager.
True crime fanatics who have heard of the case should feel contempt at how several facts remained in the drama series, as well as the respectful depiction of Conrad Roy and his family. Although she hasn’t seen the show herself, the real Lynn Roy hopes that it doesn’t focus more on Carter over her son. She goes on to say how she wants the show to promote her efforts in trying to convince Massachusetts lawmakers in passing a bill that would criminalize suicide coercion.
Verdict: “The Girl from Plainville” does a great job at depicting Conrad’s life up until his final moments. It is a chilling and sentimental show that is perfect for true crime fans and one that you will need a tissue box sitting beside you.