Hulu Orders 'Normal People' Drama Series Based on Sally Rooney Novel

The author will adapt her book and executive produce alongside Lenny Abrahamson of 'Room.'
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Sally Rooney (left), Lenny Abrahamson

Hulu is headed to Ireland for its latest series pickup. The streamer has given a straight-to-series pickup for a half-hour drama called Normal People, based on the novel of the same name by Sally Rooney.

Produced by Element Pictures and commissioned by Hulu and BBC Three in the U.K., the series tracks the "tender but complicated" relationship between two young people, Marianne and Connell, through the end of their school days in a small town in the west of Ireland to their undergrad years at Dublin's Trinity College. Daisy Edgar-Jones (Gentleman Jack) and newcomer Paul Mescal will play the two lead roles; Sarah Greene and Aislin McGuckin also star.

Rooney is adapting her novel along with Alice Birch and Mark O'Rowe and will executive produce with Lenny Abrahamson (Room), who's also directing six of the 12 episodes. Hettie Macdonald (Doctor Who) will helm the other six.

"As a longtime admirer of Lenny Abrahamson's work, it's a special privilege for me to be working alongside him on the adaptation of Normal People," said Rooney. "I couldn't be happier with the cast and team we've put together, and I'm very excited to watch them bringing new life to the story onscreen."

Said Beatrice Springborn, Hulu's vp content development, "From the moment we read Normal People we were smitten. This anatomy of a will-they-or-won't-they romance perfectly and uniquely captures the highs and lows of young true love. With our incredible partners Lenny, Sally, Alice, Mark, Element and the BBC Three, we can't wait to bring the beloved novel to life and share the series with the world."

Hulu describes Normal People as "track[ing] the tender but complicated relationship of Marianne and Connell from the end of their school days in small-town west of Ireland to their undergraduate years at Trinity College. At school, he's well-liked and popular, while she's lonely, proud and intimidating. But when Connell comes to pick up his mother from her cleaning job at Marianne's house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers — one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they're both studying in Dublin, and Marianne has found her feet in a new social world, but Connell hangs at the side lines, shy and uncertain."

Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Emma Norton and Anna Ferguson also executive produce; Catherine Magee is the series producer. 

"All of us at Element Pictures feel so privileged to be part of bringing Sally’s extraordinary, era-defining novel to television audiences worldwide under the guidance of the brilliant Lenny Abrahamson," said Guiney.

Normal People joins a drama lineup at Hulu that also includes The Handmaid's Tale, The Act, Runaways, Castle Rock and the upcoming Little Fires Everywhere. The streaming service is set to come under Disney's full operational control in the next few years and is seen as a place for content aimed at adults, as opposed to the more family-friendly Disney+ platform that launches in November.