Thank god for the sex scenes in Normal People
Everybody's been talking about Normal People.
Based on Sally Rooney's wildly successful novel of the same name, the series has quickly become a notable talking point on Twitter and elsewhere, providing a moment of romantic escapism from the uncertainty and muted panic of everyday life.
But that's not the only reason that Normal People has got everybody talking. The show's deeply intimate and often raw depiction of sex has garnered a lot of attention for being one of the more poignant instances of intimacy portrayed on Irish TV - and maybe even for some, the first time they have seen it depicted this way at all.
Within the first hour of the 12 part series, Connell and Marianne have sex for the first time.
Sat on his single bed drinking a cup of tea, Marianne asks if they're allowed to take their clothes off now. Laughing and confirming that yes, they are, they undress each other.
Marianne asks Connell if he has a condom. He says that he does and asks if this is what she wants. She says she does. Connell tells her that if it hurts they can stop. "It won't be awkward," he says.
The scene is the first of many accurate and realistic representations of sex to appear in the show, and is probably the most important.
So rarely on Irish TV - or TV in general - do we see characters having sex that is instantly recognisable. Not for its intensity or its passion, but for its intimacy, its endearing awkwardness, its focus on consent and the use of protection.
But in Normal People, we do. We see Connell asking Marianne if she's okay. We see Marianne's acute nervousness blended with enthusiasm. We see pain, and we see pleasure.
Normal People is not a show explicitly about sex, consent, and the myriad of things in between. It's a show about love and about communication - or a lack thereof.
And that's why the sex scenes in Normal People are so important - because they're part of a bigger story.
The issue of consent isn't shoehorned in, it's natural. It's a conversation that is presented as normal because it is. The show's scenes are not there to flaunt or to sensationalise, they're there to represent - and maybe even to teach.
Today on Joe Duffy, a man named Frank said that the show gave him the chance to talk about consent for the first time with his 17 year old daughter.
Granted, today's instalment of the phone-in show did also garner a lot of attention from callers who deemed the series "pornographic" and "immoral," despite the fact that it is not.
An accurate representation of sex may have been needed for those of us who are consistently disappointed by depictions of modern relationships on screen, but maybe it is also needed for those who are unaware - the shocked among us, the embarrassed, and the ashamed.
Maybe it's time we stopped pretending that sex in Ireland only happens behind closed doors, that consent is an obstacle, that there are wrong ways to feel.
Normal People has finally given us something real. It's given us something normal.