The perils of a long-running TV series

The perils of a long TV series


By acquiring the broadcasting rights to L'amie prodigieuse, Club illico has pulled off a real coup.

The readers and, above all, the readers of Elena Ferrante's tetralogy were too numerous for the series not to be a listening success. I didn't know enough Italian to watch it in its original version, but the French version of illico is impeccable.  

My wife, Maryse, had read all four volumes of The Prodigious Friend. I had given up on it for the same reason that I had not read Harry Potter and so many other books that exceed 700 or 800 pages. This is my ultimate limit. It is also for this reason that I have not read the new translation of the Bible graciously sent to me by my learned colleague Léo Laberge, an Oblate who participated in its 3186 pages!

The Prodigious Friendis an adaptation of the novel of the same title by Elena Ferrante (a pseudonym), an author who surrounds herself with mystery and whom no television has yet managed to interview. It is said that she is 79 years old, was born in Naples and has children. It is also said that it is not her, but her husband, the writer Domenico Starnone! Anyway, the series is based on unwavering friendship, but oh so tormented! of two little girls who grow up in a poor neighborhood of Naples in the 1950s, and whose lives end up taking very different avenues.


Truth be told, the 16 episodes of the first two seasons blew me away. I even watched the first season three times in a few weeks – which is extremely rare – and the second, twice in the same week. I found the images of Naples that I had visited at the end of the 1950s and, above all, I discovered a way of scripting that no series had accustomed me to. Long and emotionally charged sequences, interspersed with scenes of incredible violence, heart-rending music and, between the two girls, an almost loving relationship, marked by mood swings as violent as they are unpredictable. The first two seasons did not borrow from any series that I knew. It was a discovery.

I just watched the third season. She disappointed me a bit. The two female stars, Elena (played by Margherita Mazucco) and Lila (played by Gaia Girace) are still fascinating, but things are a little confusing and dragging on. Far fewer scenes take place outdoors, causing us to lose the fabulous landscapes of the Neapolitan coast and Tuscany.


To cling to the issues of the day, we deal with sexism and violence against women. The two protagonists seek to escape the patriarchy still prevalent in the working-class milieu to which Lila belongs, and among the bourgeois who constitute Elena's new world. In the background, the screenwriters paint a sketchy picture of the 1970s, when Italian communists and fascists engaged in skirmishes that left dead on the pavement.

Every time I watch a long series, I always end up getting bored. This is why Luc Dionne remains my hero. It managed to sustain my interest for 720 episodes. Even if I perceived certain strings and noticed processes that were repeated, Dionne always managed to catch my attention. District 31 remains an exception for me. Maybe I should give up series of more than twenty episodes, as I refrain from novels of 800 pages!

The perils of a long TV series