‘A language of secrets’: how My Brilliant Friend revolutionised female friendship on TV

HBO’s adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels is not the first series to portray friendship between women, but it does so with a rare sense of emotion and complexity

During lockdown, I have found myself experiencing a peculiar nostalgia. With less cultural and social stimulation outside of my immediate environment, my mind feels unfettered. I have been flooded by memories of childhood, which I experience in a way that is almost tangible. The friendships that we form in the early years of our lives may not always endure, but they retain a psychological potency that follows us into adulthood.

Friendships between girls, particularly, can involve a possessiveness and – as well as a deep, complicit intimacy – a shared language, often of subtle rebellion, and a competitiveness that can manifest itself in cruelty.

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‘A language of secrets’: how My Brilliant Friend revolutionised female friendship on TV