Merriam-Webster tells us it refers ‘to one whose tastes, lifestyle, habits, and attitude are mainstream and far from the cutting edge, or a person who is otherwise not notable or remarkable’.
Oh, how I miss normies. Flicking through the streaming channels recently, I took a swerve from Domina and The White Lotus – both excellent – and found myself rewatching two old British sitcoms, Sykes and Duty Free, for the first time since their original transmissions. (Duty Free and The White Lotus are strangely similar in some regards, if you squint a lot, both being concerned with the change in sexual behaviour that occurs when people book into sun-kissed hotels.)
I’d written them off in my mind as lightweight and corny. And yes, they are lightweight, but they’re inventive and insightful too. But the big difference is that – unlike modern TV – the characters, settings and writing are all hardcore normie.
Sykes is about a brother and sister who share a house. That’s the concept – that’s it. They have a snobbish neighbour. The stories are about things like being reluctant to kill a mouse, refereeing a local football match, hiring a riverboat. Duty Free is about two married couples on holiday in Marbella, the husband of Couple 1 tempted to have a fling under the sun with the wife of Couple 2. That’s all.
Where have all the normies gone? Even the bread-and-butter soaps and hospital/police dramas of today are filled with outlandish characters and situations. There is yet another serial killer currently on the loose in Coronation Street; the half-brother of poor Gail Platt, who was married to another serial killer not so very long ago. Between these events her daughter-in-law was knifed on the cobbles, although not before she’d clubbed her ex-boyfriend to death and buried him under Gail’s patio.
The curse of ‘representation’ recently saw a character in Casualty cheerfully announcing to her coworkers that she was going in for a double mastectomy, to which news they barely turned a hair.