The Lying Life of Adults

The Lying Life of Adults

TV-MA

netflix

A subtle yet intriguing coming-of-age series that’s also a portrait of 90’s Naples

7.5

TV Show

Italy
English, Hindi, Italian
Drama
2023
Alessandro Preziosi, Giordana Marengo, Pina Turco
50 min

TLDR

It’s not for everyone, with the series’ subtlety. But, the best adaptations make you want to read the book, and this show definitely fits the bill.

What it's about

After being compared to her estranged aunt, Giovanna starts to navigate adolescence, and her family’s secrets, through searching for her aunt on the rougher side of Naples in the 1990s.

The take

Based on a novel, The Lying Life of Adults might feel, at first, like a standard Netflix coming-of-age series, complete with vintage styling (the 90’s, this time) and teenage shenanigans, like skipping classes, preoccupation over sex, and rebelling against parental disapproval. Sure, the show does go through these moments, but the writing of original novelist Elena Ferrante, with the assistance of the writing team and showrunner Edoardo De Angelis, elevates this template through its subtleties, as Giovanna visits her estranged aunt Vittoria, and compares and contrasts the way she lives, with the way her parents approach life. It’s both a portrait of a divided family, but also one of a divided city, and it makes Giovanna’s coming-of-age a more nuanced journey that we haven’t seen before.

What stands out

The Lying Life of Adults is based on a coming-of-age novel of the same name, whose plot points are filtered through first-person narration. Because of this, what makes the novel work is the self-conscious realizations of Giovanna, which can be hard to portray through a visual medium. The series does try to reflect this through some voiced-over internal monologues, which is the go-to for many novel adaptations, but it doesn’t entirely rely on it. It shortens the dialogue, rewriting it to keep the same ideas, but in a more simpler way, and the comments that stick in Giovanna’s head in the novel get edited, echoing replays that makes it clear how she’s overthinking them. And techniques like framing, scoring, and even being raised from the ground during Giovanna’s dance with Vittoria, makes Giovanna’s feeling more clear, along with Giordana Marengo’s expressive eyes.

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