Warning: This post contains descriptions of suicide.
Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville reenacts the true story of Michelle Carter of Plainville, Massachusetts, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 for encouraging her friend, Conrad Roy III of Mattapoisett, to commit suicide in 2014 when they were both 17 years old.
In the Hulu series, Elle Fanning plays Carter and Colton Ryan plays Roy. On the show, the two real-life Massachusetts teens meet not in their home state, but in Florida — where both of their families were on family vacations. Did it really happen that way?
Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy III did indeed meet in 2012 while on separate family vacations in Florida, The New York Times reported in 2019. Although Plainville and Mattapoisett are about an hour apart and they rarely met in person, their phone records showed that they texted dozens of times a day.
Though The Girl From Plainville portrays the two kissing while out on a date during their Floridian vacation, it’s unclear what the status of their relationship was in real-life: “Ms. Carter spoke of Mr. Roy as her boyfriend, though he did not appear to regard her in the same way,” the Times wrote.
The judge who issued Carter’s guilty verdict, Lawrence Moniz of Bristol County Juvenile Court, said that Carter displayed “wanton and reckless conduct” in her final phone call with Roy, which ultimately made her culpable for his death.
After several text message conversations in which Carter encouraged him to commit suicide, Roy drove his pickup truck to a Kmart parking lot and parked it there with the intention of killing himself by inhaling toxic fumes on July 12, 2014. Carter and Roy spoke on the phone as he sat in his truck. Though the call itself was not recorded, Carter later texted a friend to confess that Roy had had second thoughts about going through with the suicide, and had gotten out of his truck, but that she told him to “get back in.”
Carter’s lawyers argued that there was no hard proof that Carter had actually instructed him to get back in the car, and that it was possible she could have been lying.
In 2019, Carter’s lawyers asked the United States Supreme Court to review her 2017 involuntary manslaughter conviction, arguing that because it was based on text messages alone, it violated the First Amendment and due process. Carter was already serving her 15-month prison sentence at the time, and the request also coincided with the release of Erin Lee Carr‘s HBO documentary about the case, called I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter.
The Supreme Court denied Carter’s appeal in 2020, as ABC News explains here.
Carter ended up serving only 12 months of her 15-month sentence, according to NBC Boston. She was released in January 2020 for good behavior and was given five years probation.
The Girl From Plainville is now streaming on Hulu.
Main Image: Elle Fanning as Michelle Carter and Colton Ryan as Conrad Roy III in The Girl From Plainville courtesy of Hulu.