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Normal People: “I started an Instagram account about Connell’s chain and it went viral”

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Billie Bhatia
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After watching Normal People, I couldn’t stop thinking about Connell and his chain. So I made an Instagram account for it. 

Last Monday, with bated breath, I counted down the hours in my day until I could settle in with the TV adaptation of Normal People. When I read Sally Rooney’s book last summer I was completely enamoured with the characters, their story and their love. Naturally, with the excitement of this adaptation also came hesitation – what if it wasn’t as good as the book?

Laptop at the ready (this isn’t family viewing) within minutes into the first episode, I was hooked. The adaptation was exactly as I had hoped it would be – raw, visceral and beautiful. Connell was perfect, Marianne was perfect, their acting was perfect, their love was devastatingly perfect, but there was something even more perfect… Connell’s chain. Let me just wipe that drool. 

I couldn’t stop looking at it, lusting after it, dreaming about it, thinking about it. My group WhatsApps were flooded with one-woman monologues of me talking about Connell’s chain was and how it was the sexiest inanimate object to hit the screen since Elio’s peach in Call Me By Your Name. 

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After my Tuesday night viewing of episodes four and five I decided to call it quits on Normal People until the weekend because it was consuming my every thought. I hoped that if I wasn’t watching the TV show I could go about my day without staring blankly outside my window thinking about Connell and Marianne and wondering whether I will ever have a love like theirs. 

Turns out I was wrong, even when I wasn’t watching it, I was still plagued by this thought (and many others, some of which I can’t write in this article). 

Wednesday afternoon rolled around and procrastination from writing my weekly column was at its peak – I had dusted, hoovered, made a salad with more ingredients than is frankly necessary, with nothing else to I searched #Connellschain on Instagram. To my complete surprise NO ONE had posted anything! So, I decided to make the account: @connellschain

I sent the screenshot of my new account to my friends with a tonne of laughing face emojis and the response mainly consisted of yet more laughing face emojis and a few, “BILLIE!” comments. I sat on it for a while, it’s one thing to make a fan account but it’s a whole other thing to post something on it and this was all just meant to be a joke.

Despite my brief hiatus from Normal People, I still couldn’t really focus my attention on anything else of substance. I just wanted the weekend to roll around again so that I could see my beloved chain, and Connell of course. 

Then I started thinking about other iconic chains – Elio in Call Me By Your Name, Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Lurman’s Romeo + Juliet, Jake Gyllenhall in Jarhead, Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You. So, I posted a series of these pictures on my own Instagram account and almost instantly my friends messaged me saying I should have posted something to Connell’s Chain account – so in a mad moment I posted a picture and voila the account was born.  

I woke up to around 400 followers on Saturday morning and couldn’t stop laughing, it was the most fun I had had during lockdown. By Saturday afternoon Sunday Times Style had posted about Connell’s Chain on their own social media and the followers were rolling in by the bucket load.

On Sunday I didn’t believe my friend when she sent me a link of a British Vogue article about the account – WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON!? Turns out I wasn’t the only enjoying glimpses of Connell’s chain sweaty under his football uniform, or dangling over Marianne’s forehead (drool), or barely visible under his Adidas tracksuit (double drool), in fact there was thousands of people all thirsty for the chain. (Lockdown will do weird and wonderful things to you.) 

It’s been hilarious, the most I’ve laughed during this lockdown period. I love seeing people tag their friends in the comments or share the account with a hilarious caption (’Elio walked so Connell could run’ is so far my favourite), because it’s exactly what I would do.

On my last check, @connellschain is nearing 19,000 followers which has blown my mind. Almost as much as Normal People itself. I implore you to drop everything you are doing and watch it immediately, and then hit follow.  

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