Adapting Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend for television: Faithfulness and authenticity

Kaila Heltzel, Massimo Verzella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


My Brilliant Friend (MBF) is a television adaptation of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels. This study focuses on the first season of the series, which transposes L’amica geniale, the first of four novels. Our goal is to go beyond traditional comparisons between source texts and adaptations to explore the discourse on the production and development of MBF. We collected and analyzed newspaper and magazine articles, YouTube interviews, and studies that focus on the adaptation of L’amica geniale. Drawing on this corpus, we use discourse analysis to interrogate the two concepts that inform discussions on the artistic and cultural value of this adaptation: faithfulness and authenticity. Far from being unproblematic, these interrelated concepts are ambiguous and elusive because they are entangled with their semantic opposites. The quest for faithfulness clashes with the transformations that occur when adjusting a source text to the affordances of another medium. Similarly, the authentic and the inauthentic are frequently intermingled. Viewers might believe that they are experiencing the ‘real’ until they discern that the real was, in fact, staged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalForum Italicum
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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