If the Late Late Show invented sex in Ireland, Normal People, which was aired on Tuesday night on RTÉ, felt like a huge step forward in the discussion of sexuality amongst Irish teens. The portrayal of the sexual relationship between Connell and Marianne has been a huge talking point for people who watched the programme. Though we may be hard-pressed to recall having the amount of sex that Connell and Marianne enjoy during our own adolescence, we could certainly relate to the awkwardness and intimacy that is captured.
The treatment of their sexual relationship is honest and responsible in a way that most films and TV aren't. The sex scene in Episode 2 even provides young men with a primer on how consent works, and has been rightly praised by viewers.
Same, completely caught up in their love story - beautifully drawn, minimal, believable and true to the book. So many sensitive issues tackled brilliantly
Perfect the portrayal of consent #NormalPeople pic.twitter.com/TV9pa6lsZe
— oli silverwood-cope (@olvindaRM) April 29, 2020
connell......king of enthusiastic consent thank you normal people
— 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒆 🕊 (@rinsnezhas) April 30, 2020
However, the candour of these sex scenes was always going to make a certain sector of Irish society uncomfortable. There was something almost inevitable about the Liveline discussion on the show today as callers Mary and Tommy rang Joe Duffy to complain about the sexual content of the show.
— Liveline (@rteliveline) April 30, 2020
The star of the slot was a gentleman named Tommy. Tommy says the sex was 'a bit pornographic' that 'exploits' actress Daisy Edgar-Jones and added there 'no surprise there’s this much crisis pregnancies' in Ireland. He also expressed his disappointment that 'the national broadcaster [was] promoting fornication'. Tommy then blamed sex for the spread of the coronavirus. He added Galway was a place where women often had sex on a first date.
Woman rings LiveLine to say Normal People is 'like something you'd see in a porno movie'.
Joe Duffy: '[Deep sigh] What would you see in a porno movie?'
Woman: 'Well I don't know'
— Aoife Barry (@sweetoblivion26) April 30, 2020
WHO IS HAVING SEX IN THE PARK BESIDE TOMMY’S HOUSE #liveline
— New Man on the Minnesota Vikings (@TheresaNewIdea) April 30, 2020
this episode of Liveline is amazing. "and did you stop watching it once you realised it was pornographic" "no, Joe"
— Alan (@alan_maguire) April 30, 2020
mam said i can't watch the porn until i finish my dinner #liveline
— emma flynn (@mormonhorse) April 30, 2020
Girls in Galway are asking fellas for the ride on the first date says Tommy. Galway I tell yis. Galway!#liveline
— Fiona Kenny (@FionaKenny1) April 30, 2020
Other callers rang up to say they found the depiction of sex important valuable and important.
Liveline is very funny but how great is the Dub dad saying Normal People gave him the chance to talk about consent with his 17 year old daughter? Gwan Frank!
— Aifric Ní Chríodáin (@aifreckle) April 30, 2020
We expect Tommy will have his own podcast by the end of the week. Later a caller would call in to give out about the depiction of teenagers driving cars and frequenting pubs.
Your wan on Liveline complaining that Normal People isn’t realistic because a Leaving Cert student is driving a car, despite the fact you can get a license at 16.
— John O'Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) April 30, 2020
It was the kind of sureal and stupid Liveline a locked-down country needed.