University of Wisconsin–Madison

My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend is a HBO show adapted from a novel about two Italian girls’ life story. Elena and Lila grow up in a small Italian town near Napoli in the 1950s, and their girlhood was very much shaped by the families, history, and struggles of the town.

By watching this fantastic show, it reminds me a lot of the content of our course about how female individuals are restricted in this geographic and invisible space. Both of the girls were born in their working class families in a town which has a clear conflicts between classes, dominate family business and the local mob. Their families were also dominated by the male, and had their different opinions and approaches in regards of their girls’ education. In the show, Lila was this smart and “brilliant” girl who learns way ahead of everyone else, but because of her family she wasn’t able to continue her study at school to learn more advanced Lain and Greeks. Instead, she had to working at her family’s shoes’ shop while studying fro borrowed books behind the back. Meanwhile, Elena saw Lila as the model and tried her best to complete with her. Even though Elena doesn’t have the best domestic condition, but she eventually was able to get the support from her parents and continue to study at high school. Their girlhood and journey began at this small town, and their lives were built on that which contained all the good, bad and ugly shades.

So how does this relate to American Girlhood? Despite the Neapolitan background, both Lila and Elena have so much what so-called “American girls” quality in my opinion. As an international students, coming from a foreign background, I always associate “American girls” with the idea of independence. From what I read and watch, “American girls” could be an adjective more boarder than just a definition of girls who were born or living in America. Both Lila and Elena have this quality of confronting the adversity and constantly pursing their own happiness even in their younger years. To me, they can be called “American” in some ways.

The season 1 ended at Lila’s wedding and her disgust of her fiancĂ©, and I look forward to seeing how Lila and Elena continue their journey outside of their hometown and inside their domestic or occupational spaces, and how their girlhood affected their choices later on.

Thank you for your read.

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