- The Girl From Plainville -The 'Girl From Plainville' & 'Glee' Connection, Explained
Hulu's new limited series The Girl From Plainville tells the disturbing story of Michelle Carter, who, in 2017, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after she sent texts to her boyfriend Conrad Roy, instructing him to take his own life. In the early episodes of the series, in which Elle Fanning portrays Michelle as both socially awkward and manipulative, Michelle expresses enormous grief over Conrad's death — but, as suggested in the series, much of that grief may have been a performance.
At the end of the first episode, Fanning's Michelle mimics a key scene from the show Glee, in which Lea Michele's character Rachel sings a tribute to her late on-again, off-again boyfriend Finn (who, in real life, was played by Michele's partner Cory Monteith) through tears. It's a chilling moment that seems like a perfect dramatization for a show about a girl desperate for attention and love at any cost — but it's actually more true-to-life than one might expect.
Esquire writer Jesse Barron, who wrote penned the article "The Girl From Plainville," was the first to uncover how Michelle would occasionally lift lines from Fox's musical dramedy in text messages. Barron appeared in Erin Lee Carter's HBO documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, which juxtaposed the Glee clips of Michele's character mourning with the real Michelle.
Here's the dialogue between Rachel and Will (played by Matthew Morrison) in Glee's "The Quarterback."
Rachel: I had it all planned out. I was gonna make it big on Broadway and maybe make a Woody Allen movie. And then when we were ready, I would just come back and he'd be teaching here and I'd walk through those doors and I would just say "I'm home" and then we would live happily ever after.
Will: That's a good plan. Did you tell him?
Rachel: I didn't have to. He knew.
Will: And now what?
Rachel: I don't know, something different.
Will: Maybe something better.
Rachel: I just — I don't think that's possible. He was my person.
And here's a text that Michelle sent to a friend about Conrad, per Buzzfeed News.
I had it all planned out. He was gonna graduate Fitchburg and then when I graduated the college I'm going to, we would live happily ever after on the ocean somewhere, with our son Conrad the 4th. He knew too I didn't have to tell him. Now it's gonna be something different, maybe something better, but I just don't think that that's possible. He was my person.
Carr told USA Today of Michelle's obsession with Glee, and particularly the Finn storyline, "It was the clearest example that Michelle Carter was living in a different reality. One of the scarier parts was that Lea Michele's on-camera and real-life boyfriend died due to a drug overdose and it basically set this plan in motion. When Lea Michele's boyfriend died, she was able to grieve, and everybody looked up to her and said, 'You're doing such a good job.' Potentially, I'm not certain, but what if Michelle Carter was like, 'Maybe that could be me.'"
Michelle didn't just borrow lines from Glee. She also used lines from Michele's interview quotes about Monteith's death, which Carr said made her "question her motives when he died." Per Barron's article, she had sent Conrad a long, unattributed quote from Michele to him as an original thought.
Carr explained, "Was she sad for him, his family, herself? Or was there a secret amount of relief that now she could enact this romantic fantasy of the grieving girlfriend? It was baffling."
As baffling as it is, it seems that The Girl From Plainville wasn't taking much dramatic license with Michelle's Glee mimicking. While we'll never know if she directly studied Rachel's famously sad scene, Michelle studying these performances of grief — both real and fictionalized — were a big part of what made her behavior in the weeks after Conrad's death so unsettling.