With the last of the episodes just aired, My Brilliant Friend has already been greenlit on a second season for the popular retelling of Elena Ferrante’s novel series the Neopolitan Novels. With My Brilliant Friend leaving off, our next season will be The Story of a New Name. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. We have plenty to cover before speculating on next season. Let’s get to it.
We left off at the first half with boys chasing after Lila and some dangerous fireworks. And I don’t mean the kind two people feel for each other. The Solara family have made it known to the neighborhood that they have the money and they are in charge. Lila and her brother bring their newly designed shoes to their father, who hates them. An outing to the city finds Rino and Pasquale in a fight and who should come to their aid but the Solara brothers. Marcello Solara makes his intentions known to Lila. He likes the shoes and he wants to finance the project if she marries him. Well, obviously we know how Lila feels about that. Big fat no. But when an offer of marriage comes from Pasquale too, she turns him down as well talking about how she’s only ever seen him like a friend, a brother.
Meanwhile, Elena is continuing to do well at school. For the summer she goes to Ischia and works as a housekeeper for a woman who rents out rooms to visitors. Elena’s enjoying her summer but begins to enjoy it so much more when childhood crush Nino comes to stay with his family. Nino features very briefly in the earlier episodes as a young boy. His father Donato was the man who wrote a book of poetry for the woman Melina who is a bit touched in the head. Eventually, Donato’s wife insists they move away and Melina is seen throwing all her stuff out of her windows screaming. Well, Nino hates him for how he used Melina. But Nino also has eyes for Lila. Poor Elena. After celebrating her 15th birthday, Elena hears from Lila and how bad things are at home. Elena insists on going home earlier to be there for her friend. And while everyone is devastated at the news, Donato takes it the hardest apparently because he comes in and sexually assaults her. I cannot say enough about the power of the young actress who plays Elena. The fear and pain displayed on her face while she was frozen in place is a feeling too many women know. It’s one I know too. And I could see on her face what I felt. Breathtaking performance.
Lila is determined to get financing for her shoes and turns to the second wealthiest family in the neighborhood. Formerly led by Don Achille Caracci, who was murdered by someone… Anyway, his sons Stefano and Alfonso continue to run the grocery store and when Stefano tries on Lila’s shoes he’s interested in helping (though they are rather tight.) Marriage again being a condition. The difference, in this case, being Lila likes Stefano or at least believes she’ll be happier with him than other offers. The engagement is decided and Cerullo shoes begin in earnest. But they aren’t selling.
Elena is still doing well in school and recovering from her first sexual experience. She’s trying to find her sexuality apart from the terrible act that was forced upon her. Which for survivors who have assault as their first sexual experience, it is a painful complicated process. But Elena moves on and begins seeing Antonio, Melina’s son. Though she is still crushing hard on Nino. He introduces her to a local paper and encourages her to write an essay about getting kicked out of class by supporting communist arguments. Lila helps her edit it and in the end, it doesn’t even get published. Meanwhile, Donato follows her back to the neighborhood. So he’s stalking her and Melina catches a glimpse of him and immediately goes off the rails. But Elena grows tired of Antonio and eventually ditches him at Lila’s wedding.
Which almost doesn’t happen when Stefano makes a deal with the Solaras to help get their shoes into fancier shops in the city. Mr. Solaras is also offered a part in their wedding, which Lila very begrudgingly agrees to. Her only stipulation being she does not want the rest of the Solaras to show up. Not only do they show up, but Marcello is wearing the very first pair of Cerullo shoes which fit him perfectly while they were too tight for Stefano. Lila is obviously devastated.
Lila mentions something to Elena that really grabbed me in the last episode. She says that everyone has always described her as bad or the bad girl, while Elena is good or the good girl. By some expectations that may be true, but looking at the ideology of the time Lila is doing what good girls do. They stop going to school, they take care of the family and work, and then they get married. Lila is doing what most people think is the right thing for a young 16-year-old girl to do at that time. While Elena is continuing in education, speaking more abruptly about topics, and even exploring her sexuality more. But Lila is very challenging and Elena mostly keeps her head down. So to everyone else, Lila has always been the challenge. But good and bad are too relative. I’m ecstatic to see more and especially how their friendship continues to evolve and change. And I’m 100 percent positive I will likely be reading the novels before the next season. Because I just have to know what happens!! What are your thoughts on the show? Is there a girl you identify with or like more? Is one bad and the other good? Or perhaps, like all people, they are both.
My Brilliant Friend can be found on HBO streaming sites. Live the life with Lila & Elena. It is a rich and beautiful story told in Italian. Enjoy.
Writer. Reader. Hogwarts alum. Nap enthusiast. Coffee expert. Holder of tea parties. Nerdfighter. Browncoat. Whovian. Cumber cookie. Alliteration addict. Wit factory. Can often be seen making meandering journeys through her mind in search of something profound. If cranky, approach quietly and offer either caffeine or chocolate.