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Who Is Jesse Barron, The Journalist Whose Story Became Hulu’s ‘The Girl From Plainville’?

Journalist Jesse Barron's Esquire article, "The Girl From Plainville" was turned into the new Hulu series of the same name.

By Gina Tron

A new television series about the Michelle Carter case is based on an article that painted three-dimensional characters of all the players in a tragic and sensationalized case.

Jesse Barron’s 2017 Esquire article "The Girl From Plainview” gave insight into Carter’s mindset when she encouraged her boyfriend Conrad Roy III over text and phone to take his own life. It also painted her as human and sympathetic at times at a time when other outlets painted Carter as a fatal seductress

Barron spoke about that depiction in 2019 in HBO's documentary, "I Love You, Now Die.”

“There was a narrative that got set that didn’t change, and it was set in the community, it was set in town, it was set in the press, and that is of this heartless bitch who killed a guy to get popular,” he said, citing the prosecution’s claims that Carter was so encouraging of Roy's suicide because she thought it would get her attention from her fellow students.

Carter, now 25, was sentenced to serve 15 months after being convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of Roy. The conviction set a historic precedent. 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 take his own life in text messages, as well as telling him in a phone call to get back into his carbon monoxide-filled truck. She was released in January of 2020 on good behavior after appealing her conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Barron, who was a consulting producer on “The Girl From Plainview,” was present throughout Carter’s high profile trial and his many notes and interviews contributed to the making of the Hulu series, Esquire reported last week.

"You have to go beyond [just humanizing these characters] and actually tell a story where the psychology gets way more complicated,” he told the outlet. “The forces get way more multifarious and visible." 

Barron currently covers crime and finance as a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. Most recently, he’s been writing about the trouble regarding Tinder founder Sean Rad.

"You get into these broader issues of teenage relationships, of technology, of mental health, of the pressures on these families," he told Esquire. "And the story ideally becomes more fantastical and interior, which is interesting in a different way than journalism."

“The Girl From Plainville" is a production of Universal Content Productions, a division of Universal Studio Group. UCP and Oxygen share a parent company in NBCUniversal. The creative team behind the series includes Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter Liz Hannah and Patrick Macmanus, who is also the writer behind the Peacock series "Dr. Death." UCP is the producer behind true-crime television series “Dirty John,” based on the story of John Meehan, and “The Act,” which focused on the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case.