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Did Michelle Carter Really Go to Prom While Awaiting Trial?

The tabloids ran salacious headlines when Michelle Carter attended prom while awaiting her manslaughter trial. 

By Gina Tron
Elle Fanning Michelle Carter Plainville Hulu

Hulu’s new miniseries “The Girl From Plainville” depicts a depressing prom experience for Michelle Carter, a stark contrast to how it was portrayed in tabloids.

Carter, now 25, was sentenced to serve 15 months after being convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter in his 2014 death. A judge determined that Carter, who was 17 at the time, was culpable in 18-year-old Roy's suicide after she encouraged him to die by suicide in text messages, as well as telling him in a phone call to get back in his truck, which was filling up with carbon monoxide. She was released in January of 2020 on good behavior after appealing her conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two years before she was sentenced, Carter was still a senior at her Massachusetts high school. “The Girl From Plainville” dramatizes how the notoriety of the case affected her already poor social standing. She went from unloved, even by her own friends, to a complete social pariah. In the the series, Carter, portrayed by Elle Fanning attends her senior prom in a pink dress, where she's subjected to the whispers and looks of her classmates. In the episode, Carter doesn’t stay long; she runs from the dance floor to cry and then walks home alone. For eagle-eyed viewers this experience is foreshadowed when Carter is picking out an outfit for Roy’s funeral; her prom dress can be seen hanging in the closet as she tries to plan the perfect look to impress his family after his death. 

Carter did indeed attend her senior prom, a milestone publicized by such tabloids as the Daily Mail. Before her manslaughter trial, Carter’s mother posted photos to social media of the teen wearing a pink prom dress, not unlike the one depicted in the show, the Boston Herald reported in 2015. Photos of her traveling to Disney World with classmates were also posted and sensationalized in tabloids. 

The images insulted Roy's family who thought that the milestones meant that Carter wasn't upset over what happened.

“It’s really hard because we don’t have our nephew in our lives anymore. We will never see him enjoy these milestones,” Becki Maki, aunt of Conrad Roy III, 18,  told the Herald at the time. “He’ll never see his sisters go to prom, and to see her awaiting her manslaughter trial on a trip to Disney World with her friends, going to school competitions and going off to prom — it just seems like she doesn’t understand the gravity of the actions that have led to the case against her.”

But was the reality more like what was portrayed in the dramatized series: a teenager consumed with loneliness and regret?

Liz Hannah told Oxygen.com that she and fellow "The Girl From Plainville" producer Patrick MacManus wanted to find "empathy in these characters and in this story" in general.

"I think we both came to it with the same amount of knowledge that everybody else did which is what the media had the media story that had been told and so we felt like we had a chance to maybe show a little bit more of the true story," she said.