‘The Girl From Plainville’ Showrunners Explain Finale, How They Figured Out ‘How Much Is Too Much’ in Sensitive Story

SPOLER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “Blank Spaces,” the May 3 episode of “The Girl From Plainville,” now streaming on Hulu.

Hulu’s “The Girl From Plainville” has come to an end. The eight-episode true-crime drama followed the real case of Michelle Carter and Conrad “Coco” Roy III, with the final episode revealing that she has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

In a title card at the end, it’s revealed that Michelle began her 15-month sentence in February 2019 and was released early in January 2020 due to good conduct. While those hearings could have been shown more, instead, the drama dove into a dream-like sequence in which Elle Fanning’s Michelle imagines what their lives could have been like if Colton Ryan’s Coco hadn’t died by suicide.

In this alternate reality, the duo never dated. Instead, he ghosted her after their Florida meeting, and now they happen to run into each other at a bar while she’s home for the holidays, talking about the future they could have had.

Michelle (Elle Fanning) and Conrad (Colton Ryan) HULU

“There was constantly, as there always is, a push and pull as to how much is too much,” co-showrunner Patrick Macmanus tells Variety about figuring out just how many courtroom scenes to have. “What we were ultimately trying to land on was finding a balancing act between Episode 6 and 7, and finding that balancing act between how we are approaching the facts of the case and how we’re approaching the emotions of the case. It ultimately, I think, is the thing that tells you how much you need or don’t need. As you’ve seen, we had a lot of other story packed into Episode 6 and 7 beyond the court cases, and those storylines were supporting the court so it didn’t just feel cut and dry as sometimes those can be.”

Co-showrunner Liz Hannah notes that showing what happened in the courtroom was a huge challenge, since everyone was able to watch the real court case unfold on the news and in HBO’s 2019 documentary, “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter.”

“The difficulty of a retread that there’s actors playing those parts and doing it was pretty daunting,” she says. “Ahmadu Garba, one of the writers in our room and a supervising producer on the show, pitched really early on the idea of splitting Episode 6 and 7 into 6 is the prosecution and 7 is the defense and being able to sort of compartmentalize them that way was really brilliant.”

Fanning, for her part, spoke to Variety about a different balance the show featured: Michelle’s battle with what was real and what was not.

“I’m an actor, I live in fantasy. I’m creating characters and living in other worlds, so I could relate in a sense — especially when you’re young, I think you’re always trying on different outfits and masks and figuring out who you are. That was very relatable,” she says. “I think the toughest part of this project was to balance the fiction and reality. That’s a theme throughout our show — balancing fantasy and reality. This is a real story, and you need to be sensitive to that, but then we have to also create a show and think about things in a cinematic point of view. Being a producer on it, I was able to have more responsibility and watch edits and collaborate to make sure that it didn’t feel one-sided. I just wanted to tell the truth of it and show these people for more of what they were, not what the media portrayed to all of us.”

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