“The sexual montage is so liberating!” The protagonists of Everything I know about love reveal everything | TV

Living with your friends is a special and sacred moment that can never be forgotten.” that says the actor Bel Powleywho spent most of her 20s living with her best friend Lola, telling many “terribly terrible stories,” before buying a house with her boyfriend and deciding, “I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to Lola, so I brought her with me.”

It’s exactly the right attitude for one of the leads in Everything I Know About Love, BBC One’s highly anticipated adaptation of alderton dollthe memories of the same name. Alderton was already known as a chronicler of the female millennial experience, as a columnist for the Sunday Times and co-host of the hit high low podcast – when she published her coming-of-age story in 2018. Warm, funny and for many women the definition of #relatable, Everything I Know About Love was a publishing phenomenon, selling over 300,000 copies in the UK, mostly through word of mouth Such was the appetite for Alderton’s sometimes hard-earned, big-hearted wisdom that a later edition was published with an additional “everything I know at 30” chapter.

The BBC program sees Powley accompanied by Emma Appleton (The Wizard), marli siu (Run) and newcomer Aliyah Odoffin. Only Powley and Siu had read Everything I Know About Love before auditioning for the show. It was the first book Siu read during the lockdown in early 2020, and Alderton’s celebration of friendship was strongest in lockdown: “I loved it, I underscored a lot of things,” she says.

Bel Powley as Birdy and Emma Appleton as Maggie in Everything I Know About Love.
Best friends… Bel Powley as Birdy and Emma Appleton as Maggie in Everything I Know About Love. Photograph: Matthew Squire/BBC/Universal

Meanwhile, Powley was a “huge fan” of Alderton’s writing and had already set her sights on playing Farly, Alderton’s lifelong friend and main experience of love. “I felt a real connection to that character, just reading the book,” she says. “I think Dolly has hit the nail on the head with the young female experience of finding your place in the world: discovering who you are in terms of your career, your love life, your sexuality, your friends.”

For TV, Dolly and Farly become Maggie (Appleton) and Birdy (Powley): best friends since childhood, stunned by their first shared house in Camden with Nell (Siu) and Amara (Odoffin), even when a hipster with straw hat smiles. 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 – friendship, growing up, and the tensions that arise between the two – in a seven-part narrative. Like their memoir, the show revels in nostalgia for the recent past, with the girls choreographing dance routines for 5ive, Jessie J and Kylie Minogue, raiding each other’s Topshop wardrobes and reveling in what we now call ” indie sleaze” on party nights. the pub.

For Powley, zooming in with her co-stars on a five-way call with the runaway energy of a girls’ night out, the memories were painfully fresh. “All the cultural references are very deep for me,” she sputters. “I like it – I found those outfits really triggering.”

“All MSN mentions,” Siu chimes in. “Didn’t that give you all the flashbacks?” Every face seems to flinch, including mine (thrown with a wilted rose emoji at 14).

Beyond the peplum tops and belts, the series resonates for its depiction of the roller coaster ride of early adulthood. “The reality of living with friends is that the ups and downs blend into one,” says Odoffin, 22, the youngest of the four actors. “It’s really truthful in that sense.”

Four play (from left) Marli Siu, Emma Appleton, Bel Powley and Aliyah Odoffin in Everything I Know About Love.
Four play… (from left) Marli Siu, Emma Appleton, Bel Powley and Aliyah Odoffin in Everything I Know About Love. Photograph: BBC/PA

Every woman has her own growing pains to deal with. Amara de Odoffin, a social media super-sleuth with a millennia-old passion for astrology, has abandoned her dream of becoming a professional dancer for a more stable career in real estate, but worries she’s given up too soon.

“Feeling like you have to know exactly what your next step is, how you’re going to follow the course of your life, that you have to have everything under control, there are a lot of people I know who feel that way, so it was fun to explore,” he says. Odoffin.

The other girls also strive to strike a balance between stability and opportunity. Birdy, restless and insecure, trusts Maggie to bring her out of her shell. Nell, meanwhile, in a relationship with a man more concerned with delivering her burritos than her pleasure, she wonders what she’s missing. “Nell’s relationship doesn’t seem like much fun,” says Siu. “But, you know, it’s very realistic.”

The pressure each character feels to live their best life is cleverly embodied in a later episode with an alcohol ad at a bus stop exhorting them to “LOOK FOR THE GOOD TIMES.” But for Maggie, an aspiring writer and die-hard romantic, and Alderton’s stand-in, at least in their shared penchant for puffer jackets and joie de vivre, the stakes are high.

“He definitely has the main character syndrome,” says Appleton. “She lives in her own movie, which I can understand. She wants romance and excitement, and she always dreams big… It’s like a runaway train.”

Emma Appleton in Everything I Know About Love.
‘Like a runaway train’… Emma Appleton in All I Know About Love. Photograph: BBC/PA

Often that intensity is based on your friendships. For Maggie, Birdy is her trusted accomplice, and their life together is one big drunken sleepover, until Birdy’s new boyfriend gets in the way. A dinner where the two friends play grown-up with Jamie Oliver’s beef stroganoff captures the miserable fear of being left behind in life by the people she’s been counting on to get her through.

“That dinner is where the cracks start to show,” says Powley. “They’re so afraid of rocking the boat of this perfect friendship they’re supposed to have that they don’t communicate with each other when it starts to go wrong.”

But what distinguishes Everything I Know About Love from other treatments of millennial heartbreak is that it gives equal weight to the joys, particularly drugs, alcohol, and (most conspicuously in these times of abstinence) cigarettes.

Even dating apps, now a trope of an isolated and disaffected generation, are treated not as a harbinger of the end of romance, but as a shortcut to it. A montage showing Amara and Maggie happily fingering and fucking each other in London is conspicuous by its lack of moral instruction.

Odoffin says it reflects the boldness of many modern women: “The reality is that it can also be dark, but the truth for these girls was different.”

“It’s so liberating, that montage,” says Appleton. When he first reads it in the script, he says, “I thought it had the potential to be pretty full or gratuitous, but I trusted Dolly, and it came out so light and fun… It’s a joy to watch, and it was a lot of fun, too!” do it!” (Odoffin adds, with wry emphasis: “Intimacy coordinators are GREAT.”) It’s a stark contrast to the sex in Lena Dunham’s film. GirlsI mean, where even the good sex was often somber.

Powley agrees. “Remembering Girls, all the sex scenes are really heavy and dark, and this montage is really lighthearted,” she says. “You’re like, ‘Yeah, come on girls!’ It’s told from her point of view, how they enjoy it”.

But while the search for self-knowledge and fulfillment are themes of Everything I Know About Love, at heart it is a show about friendship. It’s more generous, and perhaps more realistic, than other representations of the millennial experience. Both Lena Dunham’s Girls and Industry did not represent any relationship so treasured that it could not be thrown away for something better, whereas in sally rooney‘s to workeven best friends behave coldly.

sex and the city is an obvious inspiration, with Appleton speaking in an occasional voiceover and its heroine, a broken Carrie Bradshaw wannabe and blogger. (“I want to be amazing in comments”, declares Maggie, “and insights”).

But all I know about love shares more DNA with derry girls Y pen15: Heartwarming shows that celebrate friendship as the main way younger generations are richer than previous ones. Birdy and Maggie are entangled to an extent that some psychologists might call codependent, but more viewers might call friendship goals.

For example, the metaphorical “vault,” within which they seal their most embarrassing confessions (and some of the show’s funniest lines: Beatles fans and Aussies, prepare to be outraged) is a symbol of their unconditional trust. “It’s like a free therapy session,” says Odoffin.

And the friendship goes beyond the depth of the screen, says Powley. “The dream is to work with people that you really like, that you love hanging out with; That’s what we have on this show.” He adds: “And that’s weird.” Odoffin agrees, deadpan: “I definitely recommend having to dance in front of your co-workers the first day you meet. It does something for morale.”

Appleton notes that the four exchanged professional advice while making the show, supporting each other to grow just as their characters do. “Aliyah has been in RADA and had training that I’ve never had, so she was poking around in her brain, while I was working with cameras and on TV… It felt really collaborative.”

She hopes Everything I Know About Love will help 20-somethings come to terms with the uncertainty of those years: “It’s a tough time, and that’s a good thing: figuring things out in the mess.”

However, now in their 30s, Appleton and Powley feel they are out of the woods. Powley says that, as a new decade began, she realized that cliché: “Oh, THIS is who I am!” “When you’re in your early 20s, you’re searching a little bit, or I certainly was, finding out who I was through friendships, relationships, work, love, sex,” she says. “Dolly has captured it perfectly.”

“Yeah, totally,” Appleton agrees. Anyway, “you couldn’t pay me to go back to my 20s.”

All I Know About Love begins at 10.40pm on BBC One on June 7.

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