W TV CLUB

Everything I Know About Love Is a Nostalgic Ode to Female Friendship

Why you should be watching the BBC series based on Dolly Alderton’s novel, now available in the U.S. via Peacock.

by Jihane Bousfiha

Documentations of female friendship aren’t exactly a rarity in television—from The Sex Lives of College Girls to Girls5Eva and Broad City. The late 1990s and early 2000s had Sex and the City, the 2010s were marked by Lena Dunham’s fantastic but misunderstood Girls—and now, the 2020s have the witty and sweet Everything I Know About Love. You can never go wrong with an entry that reminds audiences just how lovely it is to celebrate female friendship in all of its messy glory, and BBC/Peacock’s latest hits the perfect spot.

Based on Dolly Alderton’s award-winning 2018 memoir, the seven-part series—which is also created by Alderton—tells the story of two 20-somethings: the free-spirited aspiring writer Maggie (Alderton’s fictional alter ego played by Emma Appleton) and her quieter, more sensible best friend Birdy (Bel Powley) as they move to London along with their university friends Nell (Marli Siu) and Amara (Aliyah Odoffin). The foursome are eager to soak up everything the city has to offer, and the series captures their many ups and downs as they navigate early adulthood, from bad dates and hookups to dodgy landlords and constant partying.

Taking place in 2012, Everything I Know About Love is strongly tied to a specific moment in time, but it never feels dated. The setting feeds into nostalgia for the early 2010s a recent trend marked the return of Indie Sleaze, and the American Apparel-Tumblr aesthetic becoming popular once again. The series’ wardrobe—which looks like it came straight out of Topshop, and was, in fact, mostly sourced on Depop—and soundtrack perfectly capture that time period, with needle drops like “Oblivion” by Grimes and Jessie J’s “Domino.”

The show’s title doesn’t refer to romantic love—at least, not entirely. The love story at the heart of Everything I Know About Love is between inseparable BFFs Maggie and Birdy, and how their romantic relationships can get in the way of a seemingly unbreakable bond. When Birdy snags her first boyfriend, it throws their friendship out of orbit, as Maggie starts to feel shut out when she watches her friend experience life with someone new by her side. Appleton and Powley perfectly balance each other out and have palpable chemistry that makes Maggie and Birdy’s friendship all the more convincing, so much so that their relationship will have you reflecting on your own close friendships.

Every episode opens with the same disclaimer: “This work is inspired by real-life events and real people (but fictionalized when life didn’t offer a good enough story).” Using her memoir as the foundation for the series, Alderton fictionalizes and expands upon her material while staying true to its charm. What made the book so wildly successful was the space it created for women to feel understood and comfortable with the state of their lives, no matter how complicated and unpredictable; that’s also what makes the series just as brilliant. It doesn’t shy away from the truth, portraying a refreshingly honest look at female sexuality and the ever-changing dating landscape. It’s warm and relatable yet self-aware, never trying to be something bigger than it really is—a portrait of a young Millennial woman figuring out life. You’re bound to find some part of your own experience weaved into the show.

Everything I Know About Love is a joyful, hilarious, and utterly chaotic love letter to the meaningful love that exists between friends, and how platonic relationships can endure so much more than most romantic connections. The show’s bittersweet finale doesn’t end on a note that resolves its characters’ arcs, leaving the door wide open for Alderton to cover plenty more. And it’s certainly a show deserving of many more seasons.