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One Day Normal People

Choose your heartbreak! All the crazy parallels between One Day and Normal People

Dex’s signet ring vs Connell’s chain


There hasn’t been a series to break our collective hearts as much as One Day has since Normal People came out in 2020. Normal People’s release was a cultural MOMENT. It catapulted Paul Mescal to fame, ruined everyone emotionally and, realistically, made everyone go back to their toxic situationships. But it turns out there are actually a load of parallels between Normal People and One Day besides, you know, you hysterically sobbing at both.

Leo Woodall said he doesn’t want the show to be compared to Normal People because although it’s a “masterpiece”, “it’s its own unique thing” and he said: “I don’t want to be compared to that.” But, when there are just so, so many similarities, it’s hard not to look at the parallels between the two.

So, besides both being equally heartbreaking, here are all the parallels between One Day and Normal People:

The teeth-brushing parallel

One Day Normal People

I don’t know what it is about people brushing their teeth together that is so bloody romantic and intimate but both Normal People and One Day have shots of Emma and Dex and Connell and Marianne brushing their teeth together shot through the mirror and they’re scarily similar. For both shows, it’s at a point when the couples are finally together and just works to show the mundane of every day and how comfortable they are with each other. Don’t mind me just sobbing.

Both the boys’ mums love the girl

One Day Normal People

One of the most iconic scenes in Normal People is when Connell’s mum jumps out of the car in rage after shouting at him for not inviting Marianne to the debs. Connell’s mum is a QUEEN who loved Marianne and always told Connell off when he failed to communicate or wasn’t very nice to her. Similarly in One Day when Dex goes to visit his mum one of the very first things she asks is how “lovely Emma” is and whether they’re still in touch. Mums! Know! Best!

Connell’s chain and Dex’s signet ring

The will they won’t they aspect of both One Day and Normal People is one of the most frustrating and heartbreaking aspects of both shows. Although arguably Emma is much better at communicating and therefore the communication is better in One Day than Normal People, the fact that both couples spend so long faffing around and not getting together is what makes the endings and the little time they do both have together so sad and bittersweet.

The devastating drunken phone calls

One Day Normal People

Both these scenes still have me weeping to this day. In Normal People, Connell rings Marianne when he’s drunk after the debs and explains how sorry he is and how much he misses her. On a very similar level, Dex calls Emma from a pay phone at a train station after he realises how sick his mum is and how he messed up the day he had planned with her. Neither Marianne nor Emma answer and the two of them leave the most devastating voicemails you’ve ever heard.

Both series have a focus on class

Whilst the roles are reversed in the two shows, both One Day and Normal People each have a focus on class. In One Day, Dexter is the typical “rah” uni posh boy whereas in Normal People it’s Marianne who has all the money and who ends up getting close to Connell from his mum working as a cleaner for her family. Ambika Mod has since said in an interview how she related to the character of Emma because of how the show is full of privilege.

The final heartbreaking scenes

So whilst not technically the final scene in One Day, one of the very last scenes where Emma’s ghost comes back and talks to Dexter is eerily similar to Normal People’s final scene with the heartbreaking “I’ll go, and I’ll stay” lines when Connell decides to move to New York for his creative writing course. The two couples are sat in dimly lit rooms, on the floor talking about their futures and you can guarantee you went through at least six tissues in each.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Reasons why your evil situationship is nothing like One Day or Normal People

‘We had natural chemistry’: Everything Ambika Mod has said about playing Emma in One Day

Wait, does this TikTok catch Paul Mescal in the act of running away from one night stands?