It’s a huge risk to develop such a personal memoir for screen, but Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love is a gorgeous reminder of how important platonic love is, and that no one should ever want 2010s fashion back.
From ’ Topshop tea dresses to the cultural significance of Russell Brand and the birth of scripted reality TV, the early 2010s really had it all.
Everything I Know About Love certainly won’t let you forget any of the cringe-worthy details as you’re brought into the world of four twenty-somethings, Maggie (Emma Appleton), Birdy (Bel Powley), Amara (Aliyah Odoffin) and Nell (Marli Sui).
They might’ve just got a place in uber-cool Camden together, but they’re definitely just as uncool as the rest of us.
Based on Dolly’s memoir following her own daunting move to London in her early twenties, you’re taken into the world of best friends Maggie and Birdy (inspired by Dolly and her own best friend). They’ve been inseparable since they first sat next to each other at school. But their friendship is tested for the first time when chronically single Birdy gets… a boyfriend.
She promises Maggie ’nothing will change’, and you’ll want to believe it just as much too.
While Birdy gets on with her newfound status of ‘being in a relationship’, with attractive yet extremely dull Nathan (Ryan Bown), Maggie decides to ‘live before I die’ and goes on a rampage of chaos and suitably wild escapades – many of which instantly recognisable to readers of Dolly’s book.
It’s worth saying early on that the decision to semi-fictionalise the piece has really paid off. The author herself admitted the subtle changes meant she was given a bit of distance, while having the freedom to stray away from the plot of the book, aka what went down in her own actual life.
At the recent premiere, Dolly labelled the idea of having a character called Dolly in the series a ‘bit of a headf**k’, which is probably fair enough.
Throughout the course of the seven-parter, Maggie and Birdy slowly, and unsurprisingly, start to drift. But while fans wait to see if they’ll make it through, the story opens up with room to dive into Amara and Nell too.
While Maggie is the clear ringleader of the group, Birdy balances her out with her caution, having never taken drugs or done anything remotely wild in her life. Amara is fun and extremely talented, dreaming of a professional dancing career while stuck in a mundane property job. Nell, who I’ve already added to the list of Scottish icons, is the most ballsy of them all, but desperate for an out of her long-term relationship.
It’s so, so lovely – as someone currently in their early 20s – to watch a series that portrays the power and joy of strong female friendship. While there are the pretty arguments and misunderstandings any close friendships occasionally suffer, these are four characters who really love each other and aren’t afraid to show it.
They also worry about all the right (and wrong) things. From what to chat about on a date to avoid awkward silences (council tax, Russell Brand), how to have enjoyable sex, and the years-old conundrum of whether using a belt to cinch in your waist actually works (it doesn’t). It’s just all so disgustingly relatable, and very funny.
We get glimpses of how Birdy and Maggie became so close, through beautiful flashback scenes from when they first met, through to their 16-year-old selves trying to impress boys with made-up dance routines, and crying to each other when it all goes wrong. It screams early 2000s. The scenes have been placed at all the right points, when the pair struggling to cope with what their friendship is becoming now.
Above all else, it will make you want to get up and dance. The girls can’t get enough of getting their groove on. If it’s not a cheesy club night, it’s another house party, and in the background of it all is an irresistibly nostalgic soundtrack.
It’s almost a blessing Dolly wasn’t always allowed her own personal favourites, with artists such as The Rolling Stones and Marvin Gaye quickly struck off the list (she had no clue how music licensing works, because who does?), replaced instead by more believable tracks from the period featuring Rizzle Kicks, The Ting Tings and Calvin Harris. Perfection
As well as the perfectly curated tunes, the cast has been seamlessly put together by recent Bafta award-winning Aisha Bywaters. The girls have really gorgeous chemistry. Having shared how quickly they all ‘clicked’ after being given the roles, you can tell they’re mates in real life. It’s also unbelievable to know this is recent drama school graduate Aliyah’s first on-screen role.
An undisputed highlight from outside the main four is a stellar performance from Jill Halfpenny, who portrays Maggie’s absolutely nutty but brilliant boss Roisin. She’s the ruthless executive producer on a series titled Heirs and Graces, based on Dolly’s real-life experience as a script assistant on Made In Chelsea. She’s utterly bonkers but incredible at her job. You will love her, hate her and want to buy her a drink all at once.
Those hoping for a neat conclusion may not exactly get one, but that wouldn’t really suit the chaotic nature of Maggie’s world anyway.
Everything I Know About Love is without a doubt the perfect helping of cringe, warmth and heartbreak all mixed up in a dreamy summer love story. Let’s just hope there will be a second helping to come.
Everything I Know About Love begins on Tuesday, June 7 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.