My Brilliant Friend, or Antigone In Italian

Last post has concerned shows from California and today I’m bringing you to the south of Italy, or Naples. Equally beautiful, sunny and on top of that much closer than California (greetings from Poland!). I believe that wonderful Italy will be my next destination (after Spain). Hopefully soon!

I’m going to tell you, quite extensively, about the series which has become my favourite one lately. I mean this rank that you finish last season and the only thing you’re able to do is only sitting and processing. You don’t fancy watching anything else within the next couple of days letting all these shots and reflections slowly flood your mind. And there’s a lot to say about shots of this show. Scenography, costumes, charming Naples or romantic beaches in the background create an uncommonly beautiful and melancholy vibe. Everything just moves you in time. It’s good to say here that don’t believe me just watch!

Brilliant friend

My Brilliant Friend is not an easy show. The action takes place over several decades. At the beginning, we meet sixty-year-old Elena who just finds out that her best friend, Rafaella disappears without a trace. Since this moment we move to the ’50s of the last century to one of the poorest districts of Naples. 

Elena and Rafaella, called Lila, meet each other at school as little girls. We can say that both of them have larger than average intelligence, they’re passionate about books and acquiring knowledge about the world. However, only one of them gets a chance of further education. Regardless, an extraordinary relation generates between them that determines their fates.

Demonic friendship

This series shows friendship as a very complicated relation based on mutual and toxic competition rather than honest support. I had the impression that Elena for Lila was someone stimulating and soothing and at the same time a cause of the evilest acts. Conclusively, one of the meanest things is digging pits for your friends.

On the other hand, Lila for Elena was a kind of referent of many activities. The girl was utterly aware that her situation was much better than her friend’s however, she perpetually found herself significantly worse than Lila. That was a factor for her to make constant attempts to measure up to Lila.

Generally, their relation was built upon boosting their insecurities, sense of inferiority and desire of being above the other one.

The custom curse

It’s not possible to talk about My Brilliant Friend skipping the issue of custom background of the ’50s and ’60s in Italy. One of the main ideologies, strongly settled in the social mentality, was the large role of the traditional model of family, procreation and absolute wife’s obedience to her husband. We also have to remember that the ’50s was a time from before the sexual revolution. It’s not hard to imagine that all these factors caused the development of male chauvinism and macho culture what, on the other hand, conduced to domestic violence. In this series, we have many opportunities to observe that raising a hand at a woman wasn’t anything unusual and had social approval. Moreover, it was a kind of desirable act in order to prove a true male power. To this model of man suited a closed at home woman who was obligated to do housework and satisfy her husband’s needs.

My Brilliant Friend depicts customs which dominated on the ground in the ’50s and ’60s. Prevailing standards hang above the main characters, especially Lila, like a curse. The girl gets entangled in a compulsion to make the hardest decisions which always are only a guises since it turns out that in the end, somebody else already made a choice. Father, brother, husband… Lila didn’t want to be passive when she realised how powerful backwardness and hypocrisy surrounded her. However, the more she manifested herself and the more she rebelled, the stronger environment’s chain squeezed her. Or maybe is it the usual fate of a girl risen in ignorance and without perspectives?

In some way, Elena is a contradiction to that, cause they both grow up in the same area however her life looks different. Well, as I said, only in some way. Even though her matters are more sorted and run closer to her dreams, Elena is not at all less lost. In addition, she doesn’t belong to people who can fight for themselves. In my opinion, without all of these kinds and believing in her teachers, she would stay more or less at the same point as Lila. Why? Because the main aim of the upbringing of girls was making them good housewives, not inculcating ambition or self-esteem.

My Brilliant Friend tells, in a very brutal way, that this is a man’s world. It shows that men’ desires are over whole lives. The lives of their women, wives, daughters. They stand on the opposite side. Nobody cares about them because… they are women. I think that both Lila and Elena are a sad face of all women facing inequalities because of sex. They depict that even if you have a big power, you are ambitious, extremely intelligent and determined there is always someone who just closes the door in front of you. Or maybe that’s why? 😉

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