“Living with your friends is a sacred, special time that can never be forgotten. ” Bel Powleywho spent most of her 20s living with her best friend Lola, believing many “verrrrry horror stories”, before buying a house with her boyfriend and deciding, “I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to Lola – so I just brought her with. ”
This is exactly the right attitude for one of the protagonists in Everything I Know About Love, the long-awaited BBC One adaptation of Dolly Aldertonthe memory of the same name. Alderton was already known as a chronicler of the female millennium experience – as a Sunday Times columnist and co-host of the hit. High Low podcast – when she published her story about maturing in 2018. Hot, funny and for many women the definition of #relationship, All I Know About Love was a publishing phenomenon, selling over 300,000 copies in the UK, mostly by word of mouth . Appetite for Alderton’s heartfelt, sometimes hard-earned wisdom was such that a later edition was published with an additional chapter of “All I Know at 30”.
The BBC show sees Powley joined by Emma Appleton (The Wizard), Marli Siu (Run) and rookie Aliyah Odoffin. Only Powley and Siu read Everything I Know About Love before auditioning for the show. It was the first book Siu read in the lockdown of early 2020, and Alderton’s friendship party hit very hard in isolation: “I absolutely loved it – I emphasized a lot of things,” she says.
Powley, meanwhile, was a “huge fan” of Alderton’s writing and had already set his sights on playing Farly – Alderton’s lifelong friend and primary love experience. “I felt a real connection to that character, just from reading the book,” she says. “I think Dolly nailed the young female experience of finding your place in the world – finding out who you are in terms of your career, your love life, your sexuality, your friends.”
For television, Dolly and Farly become Maggie (Appleton) and Birdy (Powley): childhood friends, dizzy from their very first house-sharing in Camden with Nell (Siu) and Amara (Odoffin) – even as a trilby-wearing hipster smile. about them “moving to Camden in 2012”: “Whatever you’re looking for is gone.”
Alderton adapted his own life story for the screen, sharpening its themes – of friendship, growth, and the tensions that arise between the two – into a seven-part story. Like her memoir, the show delights in nostalgia for the recent past, with the girls choreographing dance routines to 5ive, Jessie J and Kylie Minogue, rummaging through Topshop’s closets from each other and enjoying what we now call “indie moody” while nights. the bar.
For Powley – Zooming in with her co-stars in a five-way call with the runaway energy of a girl’s night – the memories were painfully fresh. “All the cultural references cut very deep for me,” she says, popping up. “How – I found those clothes really exciting.”
“All mentions of MSN,” sounds in Siu. “Didn’t that give you all the flashbacks?” Every face seems to flicker, including mine (discarded with a faded-pink emoji at 14).
Beyond the peplum tops and waist belts, the series resonates for its portrayal of the wave railroad of early adulthood. “The reality of living with friends is that the ups and downs blend into one,” says Odoffin, 22, the youngest of four actors. “It’s really true in that sense.”
Every woman has her own growing pains to struggle with. Odoffin Amara – a social media super-detective with a thousand-year passion for astrology – has abandoned her dream of becoming a professional dancer for a more stable career in property, but worries that she has given up too soon.
“Feeling that you have to know exactly what your next step is, how you’re going to go on with your life, that you have to have it all together – there are a lot of people I know who feel that way, so it was fun to explore.” says Odoffin.
The other girls are also trying to strike a balance between stability and opportunity. Anxious, self-doubting Birdy relies on Maggie to pull her out of her shell. Nell, meanwhile – in a relationship with a man busier with her burrito delivery than her pleasure – wonders what she is missing. “Nell’s relationship doesn’t look like a lot of fun,” Siu says. “But, you know, it’s very realistic.”
The pressure each character feels to live their best lives is cleverly embodied in a later episode by a bus stop alcohol ad urging them to “GO FIND THE GOOD TIMES”. But for Maggie, an aspiring writer and a stubborn romantic – and Alderton’s replacement, at least in their common penchant for tufts of jacket and joy of life – interest is particularly high.
“She certainly has main character syndrome,” Appleton says. “She lives in her own movie – which I can understand. She wants romance and excitement, and she always just dreams bigger … She’s like a runaway train.”
Often that intensity is trained on her friendships. For Maggie, Birdy is her trusted partner in crime, and their life together one big drunken sleepover party – until Birdy’s new boyfriend gets in the way. Dinner where the two friends play at being adults over Jamie Oliver beef stroganoff captures the miserable fear of being left behind in life by the people you relied on to get through.
“That dinner is where the cracks start to show,” Powley says. “They’re so scared to shake the boat out of this perfect friendship they have to have that they don’t communicate with each other when it starts to malfunction.”
But what sets All I Know About Love apart from other treatments of millennial anxiety is that it gives equal weight to the joys – not least drugs, alcohol and (most noticeably in these abstinent times) cigarettes.
Even dating apps – now a trope of a disgruntled, isolated generation – are treated not as a harbinger of the end of a romance but a shortcut to it. A montage showing Amara and Maggie happily swinging and swaying their way across London is striking for the absence of moral teaching.
Odoffin says it reflects the adventures of many modern women: “The reality is that it can be dark too – but the truth for these girls was different.”
“It’s so liberating, that assembly,” says Appleton. When she first read it in the script, she says, “I thought it had the potential to be pretty full or free – but I trusted Dolly, and it turned out to be so light and fun … It’s just a joy to watch – and it It was really fun to do too! ” (Odoffin adds, with a vague emphasis: “Intimate coordinators are GOOD.”) It’s a stark contrast to Lena Dunham’s gender. GirlsI say where even the good sex was often gloomy.
Powley agrees. “Thinking back to Girls, all the sex scenes are really heavy and dark – and this montage is really joyful,” she says. “You’re like, ‘Yes, go girls!’ It is told from their point of view, they enjoy it. ”
But while the pursuit of self-knowledge and contentment are themes of All I Know About Love, at bottom it is a spectacle of friendship. It is more generous – and perhaps more realistic – than other portrayals of the millennial experience. Both Girls and Industry pictured no relationship so treasured it could not be thrown out for anything better – while in Sally Rooney‘s workEven best friends behave in cool removal.
Sex and the City is an obvious inspiration, with Appleton speaking in an occasional voiceover and her heroine broken, blogging Carrie Bradshaw aspirant. (“I want to be amazing about comments“Maggie declares,” and jokes. “)
But Everything I Know About Love has more DNA Derry Girls and Pen15: hot shows that celebrate friendship as the main way younger generations are richer than those that came before. Birdy and Maggie are involved to a degree that some psychologists might call codependent, but that more viewers might call friendship goals.
For example, the metaphorical “treasure trove” – within which they seal their most embarrassing confessions (and some of the funniest lines of the show: Beatles fans and Australians, preparing to be outraged) – is symbolic of their unconditional faith. “It’s like a free therapy session,” Odoffin says.
And the friendship is more than just screen-deep, says Powley. “The dream is to work with people you really like, with whom you love to hang out – that’s what we got in this show.” She adds: “And that’s it rare. ” Odoffin reluctantly agrees: “I definitely recommend dancing in front of your co-workers on the first day you meet. It does something for morale. “
Appleton notes that the four of them exchanged career tips when they did the show, supporting each other to grow exactly as their characters do. “Aliyah was in RADA and had training that I never had, so I chose her brain – while working with cameras and television … It just felt very cooperative.”
She hopes that All I Know About Love will help 20-year-olds accept the uncertainty of those years: “It’s a messy time, and that’s a good thing – to find out things in the chaos.”
Now 30, however, Appleton and Powley feel they are out of the woods. Powley says, starting a new decade, she had that cliché realization: “Oh, THIS IS who I am!” “When you’re in your early 20s, you’re looking a little bit, or sure I was – figuring out who I was through friendships, relationships, work, love, sex,” she says. “Dolly caught that perfectly.”
“Yeah, all right,” Appleton agrees. However, “you couldn’t afford to go back to my early 20’s.”