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Chain reaction: Why is there such unbridled lust for Connell's necklace in Normal People? | Television & radio


Name: Connell Waldron’s chain.

Age: In book form two years, in television form a week or so, in Instagram form a matter of hours.

Appearance: Phwoar!! What a stunner.

I’m sorry? Hot, sexy, lust-inducing.

You’re not making much sense. That’s what desire does to you.

Try to contain yourself. OK. The thin silver chain that Connell Waldron (played by Paul Mescal) wears in the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People has set many hearts fluttering and now has its own Instagram account.

How splendid. Connell’s chain already has 17,000 followers and the number is rising fast. At this rate the chain is on course to win a Bafta.

What’s so great about it? Elegance, simplicity, understatement. In Rooney’s book it’s dismissed by one of Connell’s detractors as “Argos chic”, but that’s now seen as the key to its appeal. It’s the only thing he keeps on in the numerous sex scenes in the series and the camera lingers on it lovingly.

Argos chic seems a bit unkind. It’s meant to be. Connell’s relationship with Marianne Sheridan (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) has a crucial class subtext. She’s a proto-intellectual from a wealthy background; he’s a sporty working-class lad whose mother works as a cleaner for Marianne’s mother. The cheap chain is emblematic of the social distance between them.

Sounds deep. Yeah, but mainly it’s really, really sexy. New York style website The Cut calls it “a delicate piece of jewellery at odds with the rest of his [Connell’s] Achillean body”.

You don’t think it’s a bit uncool? Phooey. Vice magazine has already eviscerated that stereotype. “Though there is still a stigma about men wearing jewellery in 2020,” it says, “men have been wearing necklaces since Ancient Greece, when they were used to denote wealth and status.”

OK, that settles it. Where can I get one? You could, of course, try Argos itself, where the Revere Sterling Silver Fine Curb 24-Inch Chain will set you back £14.99. Asos also has a fine selection of men’s necklaces.

I’m ordering one now. Maybe I too can be a sex god. You do realise you need the well-honed physique as well as the sexy little silver chain?

Interesting piece of thespian trivia: At the end of filming, Mescal gave the treasured necklace to his co-star. Edgar-Jones then reportedly lost it.

Not to be confused with: The thick, ugly, woman-repelling gold “friendship bracelet” Joey gives Chandler in Friends.

Do say: “The chain symbolises Connell’s complexity: at once hard and soft, strong but sensitive, dangerous yet never abusive.”

Don’t say: “It’s just a bleedin’ necklace.”



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