Episode 1 of Conversations with Friends introduces us to college students Frances and Bobbi. Best friends and ex-lovers, the two are just finishing up the year’s exam’s right before summer break.
Frances is a writer, and Bobbi her self-proclaimed muse. The two can often be found at a bar performing poetry that Frances writes. In fact, that’s how they meet esteemed author Melissa Conway, whom Bobbi develops an instant crush on.
Frances and Bobbi have dinner with Melissa and her husband Nick. Whereas Bobbi and Melissa instantly hit it off, Frances and Nick are quieter and come across as a little unsure as to what their place is at the table.
They only talk briefly, but Frances finds him funny and agrees to go see the play he’s starring in. To reciprocate, Nick and Melissa attend the students’ next poetry reading.
Once again, Melissa and Bobbi leave the two of them alone. Nick tells Frances he thought her performance was good. He can’t quite articulate his thoughts about it, but says he will email her.
“It won’t require us to make eye contact,” Frances teases.
“We could try, though,” she says. They both smile, acknowledging there’s something between them.
The Episode Review
It’s not surprising at all that Hulu would go on to adapt Sally Rooney’s first novel after the success of Normal People’s limited series. It is interesting, however, given how much of the Conversations with Friends novel–like Normal People–focuses on the protagonist’s inner thoughts through Rooney’s vivid and eloquent language, rather than a defined plot. This makes for such a delicate, hard-to-capture story for the screen.
And maybe fans of the book shouldn’t hold out any hope that the show will be better–but I can see how Conversation’s adaptation might just be able to succeed in representing the heart of Rooney’s characters and the complexity of their intimacy. For one thing, Alison Oliver and Joe Alwyn already have this uniquely soft, awkward, and sweet kind of chemistry.
It’s interesting, too, for a show to delve into such a little-explored topic as polyamory. Conversations with Friends is sure to be controversial for that reason alone, but it’s already proving to carry a lot of compelling emotional depth.