'My Brilliant Friend' Season 2 Episode 2: Why do women live bitter lives than men?

Episode 2 is a note on how women's bodies change over the course of their lives — through marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood


                            'My Brilliant Friend' Season 2 Episode 2:  Why do women live bitter lives than men?
Still from 'My Brilliant Friend' (Image: HBO)
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Spoilers for 'My Brilliant Friend' Season 2 Episode 2 'The Body'

There is a particularly heartbreaking sequence in Season 2 Episode 2 of HBO drama 'My Brilliant Friend' when Elena Greco (Margherita Mazzucco) stands in the middle of her neighborhood observing the women around her. She is just returning from a heated argument with her best friend Lila (Gaia Girace) and is suddenly confronted with the reality of their conversation. Some women talk loudly amongst themselves, others haggle noisily with vendors shouting on top of one another. There are mothers who run behind their children the second they try to sprint away — yelling obscenities, cursing their birth. Other women live as hollow remains of their former selves, living on the bare minimum, merely getting by each day. 

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How did these women get to this stage in their lives? How did they become these vessels of angst and fury fostering resentment for themselves and everyone around them? In the middle of their dusty, dirty neighborhood, Elena is left gawking at the gray that envelops the lives of women. And she wonders, is this how they become after pregnancy? Does enduring daily beatings from their husbands turn their bodies into replicas of their male counterparts, as they lose all their femininity? 

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Written by Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci, and Saverio Costanzo, and directed under the watchful eye of Costanzo, Season 2 Episode 2 of 'My Brilliant Friend' dives into an exploration into the female rage and the anger that consumes them all their lives up until the point they heave their last sigh.

Lila's abusive marriage to Stefano Carracci (Giovanni Amura) only seems to be worsening. What had started out as a true prospect of love and companionship has now turned sour in the face of Stefano's betrayal. Lila sets out for revenge, refusing to stop in the face of Stefano's blows — his wrath is momentary, fleeting around the greed of the business. But the fire that burns inside of Lila consuming her self seeks to destroy Stefano.

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The photo of her that is exhibited at the wedding dress shop in the center of town becomes the subject of much gossip in the neighborhood. Stefano gets it back home only to give it to the Solaras, thus proving Lila's point. Now in business with the Solara brothers, Lila expects Stefano to swiftly change his colors — every promise he had made to her before their marriage means nothing now. Lila is to work in the grocery store with the Carracci women. 

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The episode ends on an immensely heartbreaking note. Lila is pregnant with Stefano's child, out of rape. Elena had spent the first half of the episode defending Stefano to Lila. "He loves you, stop exaggerating," she pleads. But she is not prepared for the truth behind the closed door. Elena and Lila aren't unknown to abuse — women have endured beatings from their husbands for as long as they could imagine. That is not even the end of it — the beatings of everyday life in impoverished Naples also roughens edges. So much so that they become completely different bodies by the end of it. 

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Episode 2 is a note on how women's bodies change over the course of their lives — through marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood. They don't even look like themselves. 

'My Brilliant Friend' airs on Mondays at 10 PM on HBO.