Trendy TV Report: HBO’s The Normal Heart Tugs at the Strings of Humanity

AIDS has always been and continues to be one of the most destructive forces in human history, but despite the tragic trajectory, the stigma still remains rampant.


HBO has never shied away from controversial themes that aim to awaken dormant souls. The tradition continues with The Normal Heart, debuting on May 25. The film has the backing of an impressive supporting cast that includes, Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Jonathan Groff, and Matt Bomer. It also showcases the unprecedented talent of Ryan Murphy, who based on his collaboration with activist Larry Kramer, resurrects the stage play that Kramer unleashed back in 1985.

You can expect to be stunned by the genesis of this relentless epidemic as we are transported to Fire Island, circa 1981, a time and place that hosted sexual freedom on a level that seduced and entrapped willing participants. But things change very quickly as we witness a young and seemingly healthy young frolicker fall over without any warning. His major setback initiates a chain reaction that forces the panic button to continuously blink and challenges the erected institutions that were dutifully complacent and stubbornly nonchalant when it came to tackling the new breed of injustice that was systematically wiping out the gay population.

At the center of the story is Ned Weeks played by Mark Ruffalo, who  poses a threat to the powers that be because he is armed with literary genius and an watchdog temperament. He clashes with anyone who doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear, including Dr. Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts), who stands her ground and refuses to sugarcoat the pulsating situation.

The film expectedly captures the chaos and feverish pitch of a time that was laced with the fury of a calculated killer that nobody could capture or destroy. But in the midst of all the heightened euphoria, there is a deeper thread embedded in the form of the love story between Weeks and Matt Bomer’s character, Felix Turner, a New York Times reporter, who manages to penetrate Week’s exterior in a life altering way. Their relationship starts out bluntly but evolves into a beautifully choreographed dance. But tragedy strikes when Felix contracts AIDS, and what follows is a touching testimony to the power of the human spirit when all the chips are down. For better or worse is clearly illustrated in the way Ned cares for his dying lover, and convinces us why AIDS should never be the accepted punishment for emotions that overpower unwanted scrutiny.

This Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time for viewers to subject themselves to this incredibly moving piece, simply because it is officially “beach season”, and with that comes a reverie of romantic entanglements that will allow for an open mind when faced with the prospect of being irresponsibly in love. But most importantly, The Normal Heart, is a searing reminder that despite the passage of time, AIDS still remains an immovable phenomenon that demands our attention and empathy.