'My Brilliant Friend' season 2 episode 3 highlights Elena's mother's constant struggle to cope with her successes

'My Brilliant Friend' season 2 episode 3 highlights Elena's mother's constant struggle to cope with her successes
Still from 'My Brilliant Friend' (HBO)

To say that HBO's 'My Brilliant Show' is a great show is not doing justice to the ingenious production that director Saverio Costanzo puts out every week. A beautiful, heartrending story of two best friends for life who are sometimes together sometimes apart.

Even as the world of 'My Brilliant Friend' is set in picturesque Naples, our protagonists Elena Greco (Margherita Mazzucco) and Lila Cerullo (Gaia Girace) are housed in the black hole of their neighbourhood, which being devoid of basic amenities propels them to analyse their position in the world.

Season 2 episode 3 of the series titled 'Erasure' is a sore reminder of the growing distance between the two best friends. Being a part of the have-nots, Lila wages a (verbal) war against the haves at Professor Galiani's (Clotilde Sabatino) party. She calls out Elena's eagerness to belong to the elite leftist intellectuals who talk about revolution, war and poverty from their cushioned households, mocking her for wanting to fit in, calling her a parrot. 

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This idea of the haves and have-nots is something that should ideally ring close to Elena - it is prevalent in her very own household. 

Elena's mother Immacolata Greco (Annarita Vitolo), at first, is sorely upset about Elena's education. In the first season, it is her father who pushes for her middle school education and not her mother - who would rather have her stay at home and help her with chores since there are three other children in the house to be taken care of. 

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But near the beginning of 'Erasure', when Elena brings home new books for her curriculum (given to her by Lila)., Immacolata opens the biggest of the lot and smells the pages. A few seconds later, she breaks down repeating that the books are brand new. 

So far, Elena has studied from tattered books given to her by Maestra Oliviero (Dora Romano). There was never enough money to buy books let alone new ones. When she sees, smells and feels these new books in her own hands, Immacolata is confronted with their dearth of resources. 

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At the same time, it hints to her past. Elena's mother is sore about her education because somewhere deep down, she wished she had gotten the opportunity to study herself.

But the trials and tribulations of life, a highly patriarchal society, and poverty (a direct product of the war) kept her back.

When she looks at Elena and her successes - from going to middle school to high school, eventually going to the university to study - she is confronted with her own past that struggled to keep up with her hopes and dreams. 

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"I think her mother cries over the books because they are beautiful and represent impossible luxury: she's probably never held a brand new book before. The books also stand for the unbridgeable chasm between her and Lenu," a fan pointed out. 

As Elena goes further up the ladder with strong academic pursuits, it points to her slowly escaping the gray of their neighbourhood and move on to greener pastures - moving away from her mother, constantly nursing the fear of her mother's limp. 

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

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