• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Nov 18, 2018
Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 0 out of 20

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Nov 19, 2018
    100
    My Brilliant Friend is presented in Italian with subtitles. Don’t let that scare you off. Take the journey. Amid the brutality, an intimacy and honesty unlike any other flourishes.
  2. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Nov 18, 2018
    100
    HBO has enjoyed a good deal of success with its limited series, many of them driven by high-profile stars, a la "Big Little Lies." Here, the book is the centerpiece, and the setting and performances make it possible to escape almost entirely into the sometimes aching, sometimes stirring, almost invariably beautiful world of My Brilliant Friend.
  3. 100
    The casting is exceptional. Every face and body is credible as one that might actually have lived in that period. The performances are alert and sensitive without seeming studied. ... This is a late-breaking candidate for show of the year, a drama about the place where aspiration and reality intersect.
  4. Reviewed by: Dorothy Rabinowitz
    Nov 15, 2018
    100
    This masterwork from HBO isn’t the sort whose powers depend on the suspense of plot turns. Every chapter is a profoundly moving world unto itself--a stunning achievement whose every moment lives in all the ways that matter in drama.
  5. Reviewed by: Darren Franich
    Nov 15, 2018
    91
    Around the lead characters, we start to see a whole generation come of age. I mean it as a compliment when I say that My Brilliant Friend is the year’s best teen drama, drawing you into the lives, loves, and struggles of a group of children cusping on adulthood.
  6. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Nov 26, 2018
    90
    With a sensationally authentic cast--this unsentimental story movingly depicts emotional resilience in changing times. [26 Nov - 9 Dec 2018, p.9]
  7. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    Nov 19, 2018
    90
    In each era, the actors create a transfixing yin and yang that keeps the viewer’s rapt focus.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd VanDerWerff
    Nov 16, 2018
    90
    Book fans may be at a slight advantage, since if you’ve forgotten who someone is in a book, you can always go back a few pages. That is a minor complaint in the face of a series that gripped me from frame one, despite telling a very small, intimate story that occasionally amounts to two girls learning lessons about how the world works and little else.
  9. Reviewed by: Sophie Gilbert
    Nov 16, 2018
    90
    My Brilliant Friend, whose first installment airs on HBO on Sunday, presents the story of Lenù and Lila’s girlhood with all the unsparingness of Ferrante’s writing. ... Against this somber backdrop, the young actors sparkle. Del Genio gives off a placid but stubborn energy as Lenù, contrasting with Nasti’s ferocious intensity as Lila. When the two are replaced by older actresses who play the characters as teenagers, they almost uncannily match their younger counterparts.
  10. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Nov 14, 2018
    90
    The limited series, about the long, complex friendship between Elena and Lila, breathtakingly renders Ferrante’s world on the poor outskirts of Naples in all its simple beauty and cruelty. But its first two episodes, set in the 1950s, are elevated most by Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti, who play the preteen Elena and Lila, respectively. ... Insightful and clear-eyed, My Brilliant Friend takes you there.
  11. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Nov 14, 2018
    90
    Throughout, we see the world the way the girls see it, knowing what they know. The world seems bigger to them, and thus their emotions always feel bigger, in ways that can make My Brilliant Friend acutely thrilling or devastating. ... This is a great show with a huge heart. Just be prepared for it to break yours every now and then.
  12. Reviewed by: Kelly Lawler
    Nov 16, 2018
    88
    The series portrays the lives of two poor young girls, that so many of their contemporaries might deem insignificant, as important and enthralling as anything else onscreen.
  13. Reviewed by: Allison Keene
    Nov 16, 2018
    80
    The story is easy to get swept up into, in regards to the rhythms of its language and the cyclical nature of its challenges. Their struggles feel both relatable and totally foreign all at once.
  14. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Nov 15, 2018
    80
    Beneath the show’s heavy coats of operatic varnish and prestige-TV enamel, it demonstrates a humble tenderness. In the specifics of its plot and the essence of its tone, the adaptation is faithful, though not slavishly so.
  15. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Nov 14, 2018
    80
    The adaptation has a sharp sense of time and place without nostalgia or sentimentality. Costanzo’s attention to period detail helps; it can feel as if you’re watching a lost postwar Italian film about postwar Italy.
  16. Reviewed by: Dan Fienberg
    Sep 4, 2018
    80
    Young Elena and Lila dominate the series' first two hours so completely that none of the other characters in their orbit really stand out, which also means none of them stand out as fake or distracting. ... The series' first two hours mark an extraordinarily promising beginning.
  17. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Sep 4, 2018
    80
    My Brilliant Friend is an impressive effort, a translation of novel to screen that preserves certain of its literary qualities while transmuting others into moving and effective TV.
  18. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Nov 19, 2018
    70
    It takes awhile to catch fire, and for a viewer even to get his bearings, so numerous are its characters; but it does, and you will.
  19. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    Nov 15, 2018
    70
    [My Brilliant Friend] is slavishly faithful to the source material. If this doesn’t make it a particularly inspired or creative adaptation, it does at least restore the books to themselves rather than their talking points.
  20. Reviewed by: Ben Travers
    Nov 15, 2018
    67
    So many individual pieces are intriguing, and some even prove rewarding over hours of consideration. Still, even the most introspective series doesn’t need to be such a slog.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 63 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 55 out of 63
  2. Negative: 4 out of 63
  1. Nov 18, 2018
    10
    What an incredible beginning to a series.... it just feels incredibly authentic. It's remarkable that 2 of my 3 or 4 favorite shows areWhat an incredible beginning to a series.... it just feels incredibly authentic. It's remarkable that 2 of my 3 or 4 favorite shows are Italian (this and Gomorrah). Full Review »
  2. Nov 30, 2018
    0
    very disappointed. What's all the hype about? I expected a superior refined cinematography, opulent as some of the recent Italian series or atvery disappointed. What's all the hype about? I expected a superior refined cinematography, opulent as some of the recent Italian series or at least an intricate character development.
    This is just a very linear story, lined with tropes, passing as realistic art....devoid of any charm and poetry with very simplistic one-sided characters. I can only imagine how distraught the original writer must feel of this adaptation.
    If you want Italian realism of the post-world area, better rewatch Rocco and his brothers or any other Visconti or De Sica or Rosselini. There, you can find the poignancy of the Italian working class of the time.
    O tempora, o mores!
    Full Review »
  3. Dec 26, 2018
    4
    Halfway through the season. The depiction of small-town Italian life can be fascinating. But series is average. Hype is not justified. WonderHalfway through the season. The depiction of small-town Italian life can be fascinating. But series is average. Hype is not justified. Wonder of people sometimes base their reviews on just one episode (the first one). Will certainly revise review if the last half of the season warrants it. Full Review »