“The sexual montage is so liberating!” The All I Know About Love stars tell us all | Television

“The sexual montage is so liberating!” The All I Know About Love stars tell us all | Television

Living with your friends is a sacred and special moment that can never be forgotten. Thus speaks the actor Bel Powleywho spent most of her 20s living with her best friend Lola, telling many “very terrible stories”, before buying a house with her boyfriend and deciding: “I couldn’t bear to tell the goodbye to Lola, so I just brought her along.

That’s exactly the right attitude for one of the protagonists in All I Know About Love, BBC One’s long-awaited adaptation of Dolly Aldertonthe memoirs of same name. Alderton was already well known as a columnist of the millennial women’s experience – as a Sunday Times columnist and co-host of the hit show Podcast High Low — when she released her coming-of-age story in 2018. Warm, funny, and for many women the definition of #relatable, All I Know About Love was a publishing phenomenon, selling out to over 300,000 copies in the UK, primarily through word of mouth. Such was Alderton’s appetite for kind-hearted and sometimes hard-earned wisdom that a later edition was published with an additional chapter of “all I know at 30”.

The BBC show sees Powley joined by Emma Appleton (The Witcher), Marli Siu (Run) and newcomer Aliyah Odoffin. Only Powley and Siu had read All I Know About Love before auditioning for the show. It was the first book Siu had read in early 2020, and Alderton’s friendship celebration hit hard in isolation: “Absolutely loved it – underlined loads of things,” she says.

Bel Powley as Birdy and Emma Appleton as Maggie in All I Know About Love.
Besties…Bel Powley as Birdy and Emma Appleton as Maggie in All I Know About Love. Photography: Matthew Squire/BBC/Universal

Powley, meanwhile, was a “huge fan” of Alderton’s writing and had already set her sights on the role of Farly – Alderton’s lifelong friend and main love affair. “I felt a real connection to this character just reading the book,” she says. “I think Dolly was successful in the young woman’s experience of finding your place in the world – figuring out who you are in terms of career, love life, sexuality, friends.”

For television, Dolly and Farly become Maggie (Appleton) and Birdy (Powley): childhood besties, giddy from their very first roommate in Camden with Nell (Siu) and Amara (Odoffin) – even as a hipster wearing a trilby smiles. about them “moving to Camden in 2012”: “Everything you’re looking for is already gone.”

Alderton adapted his own life story for the screen, refining its themes – of friendship, growth and the tensions that emerge between the two – into a seven-part narrative. Like its memoir, the show revels in nostalgia for the recent past, with the girls choreographing dance routines to 5ive, Jessie J and Kylie Minogue, raiding each other’s Topshop wardrobes and reveling in what what we now call “indie sleaze” nights the bar.

For Powley – Zooming in with her co-stars in a five-way call with the searing energy of a girls’ night out – the memories were painfully fresh. “All the cultural references are very deep for me,” she mumbles. “Like – I found these outfits really triggering.”

“All mentions of MSN,” chimes Siu. “Didn’t that give you all the flashbacks?” Every face seems to grimace, including mine (dropped with a faded rose emoji at 14).

Beyond the peplum tops and belts, the series resonates for its depiction of the roller coaster of early adulthood. “The reality of life with friends is that the ups and downs blend into one,” says 22-year-old Odoffin, the youngest of the four actors. “It’s really true in that sense.”

Four play (left to right) Marli Siu, Emma Appleton, Bel Powley and Aliyah Odoffin in All I Know About Love.
Four star… (left to right) Marli Siu, Emma Appleton, Bel Powley and Aliyah Odoffin in All I Know About Love. Photograph: BBC/PA

Every woman has her own growing pains to deal with. Amara d’Odoffin – a super social media sleuth, with a highly millennial passion for astrology – gave up her dream of becoming a professional dancer for a more stable career in real estate, but worries she gave up too soon .

“The feeling that you need to know exactly what your next step is, how you’re going to move on with your life, that you need to have it all together – there are loads of people I know who feel that way, so it was fun to explore” , says Odoffin.

The other girls also struggle to find a balance between stability and opportunity. A worried and self-doubting Birdy relies on Maggie to pull her out of her shell. Nell, meanwhile — in a relationship with a man more concerned with her burrito delivery than her enjoyment — wonders what she’s missing. “Nell’s relationship doesn’t sound like much fun,” Siu says. “But, you know, it’s very realistic.”

The pressure each character feels to live their best life is deftly embodied in a later episode by a booze commercial at the bus stop urging them to “GO FIND THE GOOD TIME”. But for Maggie, an aspiring writer and hardcore romantic — and Alderton’s replacement, at least in their shared penchant for shag jackets and joie de vivre — the stakes are particularly high.

“She definitely has main character syndrome,” Appleton says. “She lives in her own film – which I can understand. She wants romance and excitement, and she always dreams bigger… She’s like a crazy train.

Emma Appleton in Everything I Know About Love.
“Like a runaway train”… Emma Appleton in All I Know About Love. Photograph: BBC/PA

Often, this intensity is formed on his friendships. For Maggie, Birdy is her trusty partner in crime, and their life together is one big, drunken slumber party – until Birdy’s new boyfriend gets in the way. A dinner party where the two friends play at being adults over a Jamie Oliver beef stroganoff captures the miserable fear of being left behind in life by the people you rely on to get you through.

“This dinner is where the cracks start to show,” Powley says. “They’re so scared of rocking the boat of this perfect friendship they’re supposed to have that they don’t communicate with each other when things start to go wrong.”

But what sets All I Know About Love apart from other treatments for millennial angst is that it gives equal weight to the joys – including drugs, alcohol and (most noticeably in these times sober) cigarettes.

Even dating apps — now a trope of a disaffected and isolated generation — are treated not as a harbinger of the end of romance, but as a shortcut to it. A montage showing Amara and Maggie slipping and navigating their way through London is strikingly lacking in moral instruction.

Odoffin says it reflects the adventure of many modern women: “The reality is that it can be dark too – but the truth for these girls was different.”

“It’s so liberating, this montage,” says Appleton. When she first read it in the script, she said, “I thought it had the potential to be pretty full or free – but I trusted Dolly, and it turned out so light and funny… It’s just a joy to watch – and it was really fun to do too! (Odoffin adds, with wry emphasis, “Intimacy coordinators are AMAZING.”) It’s a stark contrast to Lena Dunham’s gender. GirlsI say, where even the good sex was often sinister.

Poley agrees. “Thinking back to Girls, all of the sex scenes are really heavy and dark – and this edit is really joyful,” she says. “You’re kind of like, ‘Yeah, come on girls!’ It’s told from their point of view, from them who appreciate it.

But if the search for self-knowledge and satisfaction are the themes of All I Know About Love, it is at heart a show about friendship. It is more generous – and perhaps more realistic – than other depictions of the millennial experience. The girls and Industry depicts no relationship so precious that it couldn’t be thrown away for something better – while in Sally Rooneyit is workeven best friends behave coldly.

sex and the city is an obvious inspiration, with Appleton occasionally speaking in voiceover and its heroine aspiring broke, blogger Carrie Bradshaw. (“I want to be amazing at commentssays Maggie, “and witty words. “)

But all I know about love shares more DNA with Derry Girls and Pen15: heartwarming shows that celebrate friendship as the primary way younger generations are wealthier than earlier ones. Birdy and Maggie are entangled to a degree that some psychologists might call codependent, but more viewers might call friendship goals.

For example, the metaphorical “vault” – inside which they seal their most embarrassing confessions (and some of the funniest lines in the series: Beatles fans and Aussies, prepare to be outraged) – is symbolic of their unconditional trust. “It’s like a free therapy session,” says Odoffin.

And the friendship doesn’t end on screen, says Powley. “The dream is to work with people that you really like, that you like to spend time with – that’s what we have on this show.” She adds, “And it’s rare.” Odoffin agrees, tongue-in-cheek: “I highly recommend dancing in front of your colleagues on the first day you meet. It does something for morale.

Appleton notes that the four of them exchanged career advice over the course of the series, supporting each other to grow, much like their characters. “Aliyah went to RADA and had training that I never had, so I picked her brains – as I worked with cameras and on TV… It was really collaborative.”

She hopes All I Know About Love will help 20-somethings embrace the uncertainty of those years: “It’s a complicated time, and that’s a good thing – understanding things out of order.”

Now 30, however, Appleton and Powley feel out of the woods. Powley says, at the start of a new decade, she had this cliched realization: “Oh, this is who I am!” “When you’re in your early 20s, you’re kinda looking, or at least I was, to find out who I was through friendships, relationships, work, love, sex,” she says. . “Dolly captured that perfectly.”

“Yeah, totally,” Appleton nods. Still, “you couldn’t pay me to go back to my early 20s.”

All I Know About Love starts at 10.40pm on BBC One on June 7, with all episodes available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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