The Brilliance of "My Brilliant Friend"

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

By: Maria Giovanna Jumper


From the HBO TV show "My Brilliant Friend," the picture shows a young Elena Greco

(Left) and Raffaella Cerullo (right).


If you are looking for a new show to binge, I recommend the HBO series “My Brilliant Friend.” The show is a look into the life of poor families living in Naples, Italy in the 1950s. The show is a new perspective that many don’t know about Italy.

It’s based on author Elena Ferrante’s series taking the translated name of the first book, which is titled L’Amica Geniale. Like the book, the TV show is all in Italian, with English subtitles available.

“My Brilliant Friend” follows the life of two friends from childhood into adulthood. The two friends are Elena “Lenù” Greco and Raffaella “Lila” Cerullo. The first season, which came out in November 2018, shows the origins of the two girls' friendship and watches as they move through their school years, to their teen years, and finally early adulthood. The second season, which was released in February of this year, continues right where the first season leaves off.

The most amazing part of this show is how authentic the Southern Italian experience is portrayed. The characters portray life in Italy in an area where tourism isn’t common, and people live on the little that they have.

Additionally, the show frequently uses the dialect of Naples rather than the “proper” Italian of Florence. Since the time of Dante’s writing, Florentine Italian has been considered the proper Italian for the country. Social class has been decided based on the dialect you spoke.


Those who used Northern Italian dialects were traditionally thought of as wealthier and of a higher class, while those who use Southern Italian dialects have been seen as poor and of a lower class. Ferrante decided to use the native dialect to her characters and her own native dialect.

The show is enjoyable, fast paced and fun to watch. The first season is available to stream and the first four episodes of the second season are also available, the rest of the season airs weekly on Mondays.

“My Brilliant Friend” covers both light and fun topics and harder topics, like poverty and violence, while keeping things interesting. It is a great watch and will be interesting to binge while stuck at home. As a bonus: You can learn a new language.


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