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No matter how old you are, there’s nothing more awkward than watching a sex scene alongside your parents. This is the hill I’m willing to die on.
Unfortunately, the UK lockdown – which has seen many adults flock back to their childhood homes for a more comfortable quarantine – has coincided with the release of BBC’s Normal People. Or ‘Naked People’, as my boyfriend has dubbed the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s award-winning novel.
While those who got the memo are binge-watching the show on iPlayer from the comfort of their bedrooms, others have made the schoolboy error of watching it on BBC One on Monday nights.
Needless to say, it’s lead to some pretty toe-curling evenings.
Still, everyone knows the biggest rule of awkwardness is that you’re never allowed to acknowledge it – meaning there’s no turning back.
If you’ve started watching the series with your parents, buckle up, you’re in for a painfully embarrassing ride. Here are the cringeworthy stages you’ll probably endure in each and every episode.
1. False hope
“This is the BBC”, you tell yourself. “How sexy will things really get?” Then you see the close-up of Connell’s neck chain and you realise you’ve made a grave mistake.
It might be Marianne’s longing gaze, or their seriously intense kissing, but something tells you things are about to get Hot In Here. This is your window to escape and make a cup of tea. But you hesitate, glued to your chair. The moment passes.
3. Pure, agonising silence
Eyes forward, no sound. That is the only possible way to deal with what happens next. Don’t even think about reaching for your phone on the side of the sofa because that’ll only draw attention to yourself. And you do not want that.
4. Awkward jokes
Your mum makes it worse with a few jokes – because of course she does. Popular choices you may recognise include: “Oooh, if I were younger” and the occasional outburst of “Well, I say!”
You wonder why this scene is lasting an actual decade.
5. Just when you think it’s over...
...there’s full-frontal nakedness as our protagonists bask in post-sex glory. You briefly consider saying something cultured about the depiction of unfiltered bodies on screen to prove you are an adult and you are okay with this.
Who are you kidding? You stay silent, instead, with the occasional side-eye to your mum to see her reaction.
It’s over. Nothing happened. Sex? What sex? You refuse to acknowledge anything out of the ordinary and breathe a sigh of relief as clothes are returned to bodies.
So... about that tea? To mask your embarrassment, you exit the room and make a mental note to schedule a Zoom call with friends during the next family viewing. Thank God for iPlayer, eh?