I’m very into chains. For any wearer, a chain adds a certain sexy je ne sais quoi. And for people who are already really hot, they’re a tantalizing finishing touch (see: Jake Gyllenhaal).
But I didn’t quite understand the destabilizing power of the chain until I watched Hulu’s Normal People. Adapted from Sally Rooney’s eponymous novel, Normal People is a sad and outrageously horny love story. It follows a couple, Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), through their secondary school and early college years in Ireland.
In the book, Connell wears a chain, and so does Mescal in the show, a detail he insisted on during costuming. (He gifted it to Edgar-Jones at the end of filming “and she lost the fucking chain,” he admitted in a recent interview with my colleague.)
Connell (and, yes, Mescal) is a devastatingly sexy Irish hunk. Connell absolutely cannot communicate, a character flaw that is at the heart of most of Normal People’s plot machinations. Outside of that, he’s perfect: all clear green eyes, tender glances, and soft, understanding smiles. He is the main reason I recommended you watch this show alone and with a vibrator.
But it’s his chain, a thin, silver whisper draped about a deliciously thick neck, that is the object of my desire. It’s yet another subtle paradox in a character built on them; Connell, muscular and tough-seeming, is really gentle and tender; he’s emotionally uncommunicative but sexually impassioned; his reticence makes him seem a bit dim, but he’s actually brilliant.
The chain, slim and tiny, is yet another of these paradoxes, a delicate piece of jewelry at odds with the rest of his Achillean body. Mescal agrees, noting, “It’s absolutely part of Connell’s identity. If another character wore one, it would be totally jarring. With Connell, it fits like a glove or something.” It also just looks hot when he’s naked except for the chain, which in Normal People is pretty frequently.
Showrunners seemed to be well aware of the chain’s seductive properties, and they’re deliberate about showcasing it, often panning close on Mescal’s neck:
There is, in fact, an entire scene dedicated to a close pan of the chain in the show’s eighth episode:
Connell’s “wee silver chain” has captured the attention of audiences, and will no doubt steal yours when you get around to watching the show. And if you’ve finished it and have a chain-shaped hole in your heart, you should know that Mescal wears a chain in real life — a “Celtic Trinity knot thing” — so you can pine for him as well as his Normal People counterpart.