HBO is running an 8-episode miniseries adaptation of Elena Ferrante's acclaimed novel, My Brilliant Friend. The novel was the first of four books known collectively as the Neapolitan series. The TV production is a joint American-Italian effort with Italian and Neapolitan dialect spoken and English subtitles. Three episodes have aired.
So far, I concur with the highly positive reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes.
My Brilliant Friend begins in the 1950s in a small Neapolitan community where life is hard for most of the residents. The series follows the evolution of a complex relationship between a bright young girl, Elena (Lenù) Greco and her unconventional, seemingly fearless, genius-level brilliant friend, Rafaella (Lila) Cerullo.
The cinematography is gorgeous and both the characters and narrative are complex on top of the cultural feast for anyone interested in the rough, close-to-bone existence of southern Italy in those days. And those days were a time in which even brilliant girls weren't considered suitable for education beyond elementary school, community and family violence were commonplace and sexual mores were Old World in the sense that girls could be both preyed upon and deemed sluts after an assault. All of this takes place against the backdrop of the locals living in fear of the Camorra, the regional crime syndicate.
The first episode moves a bit slowly but stick with it and you'll be well-rewarded for your patience.