Hulu’s ‘Talks with Friends’ is another compelling masterpiece in verse by Sally Rooney

You may remember a little program called Normal person. It’s a whirlwind Irish series with intimate scenes full of depth, and two performances of a lifetime? The story of the beloved necklace in the perfectly sculpted photographs of Paul Mescal? Yes, that’s one of those.

By now, you may have heard that Hulu is coming out with a sister series, Chat with friends. Before diving into this new masterpiece, I must tell you that, yes, Conversation does not measure the brilliance of Normal person.

Sally Rooney’s original books actually came out in reverse order: Chat with friendsHer first novel, released in 2017, a year ago Normal person, but they feel more intertwined than they do sequentially. The new series follows a quartet of Irish creators, who enter 80 different love triangles that stem from Frances (Alison Oliver), who hosts the show as a quiet young writer, and who Her poetic best friend is Bobbi (Sasha Lane), who happens to be her. ex—a rudimentary, completely tender relationship required at the heart of the show.

The pair meet beautiful couple Melissa (Jemima Kirke) and Nick (Joe Alwyn), whose lavish lifestyles and weak marriages are completely open to intruders. Frances instantly falls in love with Nick in a way that feels very familiar — she’s doing a Google search and taunting him with Bobbi, but then texts him and gives him staring eyes . Frances’ infatuation becomes transparent and watchable, but in the best way. We were all there.

As Frances and Nick build their close relationship, her relationship with Bobbi falls apart. The quartet journeys to Croatia, where Nick and Frances completely solidify their relationship, but Frances struggles to connect with a visiting literary publisher due to her relationship with Melissa’s husband. Her father cut her throat. With no money, growing medical problems, and a lost best friend, Frances struggles to find herself.

That cast will hint at how well the show will go. Taylor Swift’s boyfriend who played Emma Stone’s love interest Favorite? A rising star with hits like Hearts Beat Loud and American honey? The best star of Girls? When the cast was announced years ago, Chat with friends looks promising. And, from the very first episode, when we first see the actors mingle with hot chemistry in white wine and well-dressed girls, it’s clear that the hype hasn’t been overblown. level.

However, it is newcomer Alison Oliver who runs away with the show. This matches one of the Normal personThe greatest achievements: presenting us with promising young actors to swoon and haunt. Frances would be easily hated. She is brooding, disconnected, unable to find her way in life, and has started an affair with a married man. On top of that, Frances treats her dear friend Bobbi like a dusty old cat.

But Oliver painted Frances with just that in mind. It was a performance similar to Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal person, another quiet, moody role that can startle audiences. To another actress, Frances could be seen as selfish, boring, or dull. That is not the case here. Oliver recently graduated from college, so she really turns Frances’ youthful embarrassment in a way that an older, more experienced actress wouldn’t be able to handle.

I feel bad for that Conversation will be compared with Normal person at the beginning, but let’s face it, it’s inevitable. Two Sally Rooney adaptations with gorgeous leads, extraordinary lovemaking scenes, and captivating clouds of Ireland. They aren’t the same by any stretch of the imagination, but BBC Studios isn’t afraid to lean on Rooney’s formula. That method worked, so why change it?

Everyone loves it Normal person. Since the limited series won’t have a second part (except the brilliant one Fleabag cross priest), just extend Rooneyverse. Parallel to the mid-season jump to Italy in Normal person, Conversation sending his players to Croatia, a sunny seaside getaway with flowing dresses, sea salt curls and endless glasses of chilled rose water. Oh, and the best part: the two lovers secretly get into each other’s beds after dark. We have seen this before. However, it’s more like getting drunk a second time.

Where does it falter? Unfortunately, there is no Paul Mescal and Joe Alwyn pale mullet sport to compare. He tries his best, but if there’s one aspect I can change Chat with friends, that will be the male lead of the show. Alwyn’s muted performance wasn’t too bad. It’s not as drunk as Mescal, with his chains and hopeless romanticism. There’s no such thing as the interstellar lovers aspect, but that’s not the point of the show.

Don’t let the romance’s lack of spin keep you from watching until the bitter end. The real heart of Chat with friends is the sometimes unique, sometimes romantic, always fascinating relationship between Bobbi and Frances. Focus too much on the Nick/Frances of it all and you’ll lose the really stinging longing between these two, who’ve always been hungry to find their place with each other.

You’ll notice the seeds of that momentum planted in the first volume of the series, in which Bobbi and Frances spend their final months of college together. They lay back on each other’s shoulders, watching TV while it kept pouring out, making the last-minute decision to have a few bottles of wine to cool off at home. They can’t get rid of the stress in their relationship. Every moment they share is intimate.

Furthermore: yes, Conversation There are hot sex scenes. But it also has comfortable and cozy college life that’s more enjoyable (not all homework!) to see than you might expect. When we hear “teenage romance,” we’re probably not programmed to expect stormy days of tea, study, and small talk at home. But that’s the charm of Conversation.

As sex-free, action-packed, heartbreaking, violent films continue to rake in billions of dollars at the box office, these subtle, intimate shows have a quietly revolutionary feel. Only time will tell if Conversation will be as big as Normal personbut it makes another great argument for concealed tenderness rather than stabbing fervor as a way of balancing overt maximalism (Marvel, the rogue biopic, even the dramatic count of Bridgerton) in entertainment.

Chat with friends premieres May 15 on Hulu. Hulu’s ‘Talks with Friends’ is another compelling masterpiece in verse by Sally Rooney


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