Let us open, on this holy occasion, with a Taylor Swift lyric:
Such are the essential themes of Conversation With Friends, a Hulu/BBC miniseries out now. Like the 2020 sensation Normal People, this series is adapted from a novel by author Sally Rooney. And like that show, Conversations With Friends is a six-hour advertisement for being depressed in Ireland, with an Anthropologie aesthetic and an almost surreal abundance of sex scenes.
Conversation risks bringing together a horny, armchair-philosopher illuminati, three powerful fandoms united in the desire to fuck in oversized knits. First, we have Rooney readers. They are joined by the audience of the TV show Girls, brought in by Jemima Kirke. Plus Swifties by way of Joe Alwyn, a respected and talented actor who, nevertheless, must be identified first and foremost as Taylor Swift’s Boyfriend. (This article hereby adopts the position that objectifying Taylor Swift’s boyfriend is an act of radical gender equality.)
‘Tis Dublin, in non-COVID times: Frances (Allison Oliver) and Bobbi (Sasha Lane) are undergraduate slam poets who have the kind of destructive close friendship where two people attempt to adopt one identity. They are former partners turned platonic best friends who speak in “we,” and “us,” alienate people at parties, and participate in communism as a flexible aesthetic rather than a belief system. They are a friend pair most of us have seen or participated in: Bobbi, outspoken and charismatic; Frances, mute and profoundly mousey. Every baby hair on her head proclaims her total discomfort in her body and in the world.
“You know your whole silent thing makes everyone think you’re enigmatic and interesting,” Bobbi says cuttingly to Frances, the ultimate introvert slur. In an accurate depiction of many early-20s friendships, the two spend the entire series deeply wounding each other and then making up by writing grand apology emails.