Conversations with Friends
Watch it for...
The slow-boiling drama of awkward tension and the nuances of friendship that arise as a new sexual interest shatters a precarious bond between two best friends and ex-lovers.
21-year-olds Francis and Bobbi have just graduated from their university writing program. They’ve also managed to stick the landing of being former lovers who’ve settled in as best friends and muses to each other. Still, there’s an underlying precariousness to them that’s driven home when they meet Melissa and Nick, a relatively older married couple in their 30s. When Melissa invites the two of them over for dinner, Francis and Nick develop an awkwardly breathless infatuation with each other. It’s paralleled, but in sharp contrast, to the effortlessness of Bobbi and Melissa’s newfound friendship. Francis struggles to come to terms with her relationship to Nick, grappling with the reality that he is very much married and carrying on an affair right under his wife's gaze.
There’s such a delight in seeing a type of character that you meet so often in life, but portrayed so rarely onscreen, come to life this artfully. The central characters of Conversations with Friends embody the kind of awkward discomfort of young adulthood in beautifully familiar, often cringeworthy, detail. They’re incredibly confident in expressing their views when they know they’re in likeminded company, but then fall to pieces trying to articulate feelings. They’re driven firmly by a desire for uniqueness in their own voice and sense of self, but have difficulty establishing a strong moral compass.
One of the most satisfying parts of the series for me was how the affair, both emotional and sexual, between Francis and Nick is an open secret—Melissa coolly acknowledges and stops just short of a tacit permission. Melissa is forced to choose between several unflattering characterizations offered to her as the wife of an affair, and at great pains, chooses the one with a veneer of self-possessed agency. To me, this is the heartbreaking crux of the story: the ambiguity and unease isn’t just a part of youth, it’s an ongoing feature of adulthood.