Everything I Know About Love BBC

BBC’s Everything I Know About Love episode 1 review: the nostalgic series explores this relevant relationship conundrum

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BBC’s adaptation of Dolly Alderton’s bestselling novel Everything I Know About Love is here. It’s gloriously nostalgic – and somewhat confronting – according to one Stylist writer. 

Warning: this article contains minor spoilers for the first episode of BBC’s Everything I Know About Love.

If you’re anything like us (a fan of BBC drama and Dolly Alderton), you’ll know that we’ve been patiently counting down the days until the premiere of Everything I Know About Love.

The bestselling novel has received the BBC series treatment, and with it, all of those beloved dynamics on the page have transformed into an on-screen delight. Premiering tonight (Tuesday 7 June), the first episode is everything we knew the series would be: gloriously nostalgic for every millennial woman, crammed full of 2012-appropriate music, outfits and all-too-relatable dating and romance horror stories.

We’re introduced first to Maggie (Emma Appleton), who is based on Alderton, a fun-loving 24-year-old that quickly discovers she’s out of money when attempting to buy multiple mini bottles of wine on the train back to London. She ends up befriending Street (Connor Finch), a cool guitar-wielding stranger who smokes with her in the train toilets and romantically kisses her goodbye on the Paddington platform. 

Everything I Know About Love BBC
Emma Appleton stars as Maggie in BBC's Everything I Know About Love.

She quickly trots back to her newfound Camden home, which she shares with childhood best friend Birdy (Bel Powley) and university pals Aliyah Odoffin (Amara) and Marli Siu (Nell). 

“All the best nights happen when we just follow our noses,” Amara beams as the quartet stumble out onto the moonlit streets of Camden, ready for their first Friday night out. As Rizzle Kicks’ Down With The Trumpets blares, don’t be surprised if you consume the first half of this episode with a beaming smile on your face. It’s fun, it’s contagious and you can’t help but be swept up in a tidal wave of similar memories.

Maggie inevitably runs into Street in a dingy north London pub and, later on, hitting it off at his flat, is introduced to Nathan (Ryan Bown), his boring flatmate. “Nathan needs to have sex,” Street says and asks Maggie if she has any single friends.

“She’s the best person in the world,” Maggie beams about Birdy, excited to play matchmaker for her best friend. 

Everything I Know About Love BBC
Everything I Know About Love is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.

Later, though they have separate bedrooms, the friends share a bed after their night out. Like a married couple, Birdy lovingly spoons Maggie and it’s a routine that they’re used to; a kind of post-night out comfort they both adore. This isn’t just a run-of-the-mill friendship, it’s the kind of soulmate connection that many often only think is reserved for romantic relationships.

It’s what makes the rest of the episode – and really, the series – so tricky. When you have a bond with your best friend that’s much like a significant other, does it inevitably lead to someone getting disappointed?

The next day, while out leafleting as giant pancake stacks (yes, you read that correctly), Birdy receives a message from Nathan. She’s excited but Maggie refers to Nathan quickly as “fine”, “average” and “normal” – a collection of adjectives no woman really wants to hear when thinking about her future partner.

After getting ready for her first date with Nathan for a staggering three-and-a-half hours, Maggie gives Birdy the kind of pep talk that every friend craves. She tells her: “You are the sweetest, funniest person in any room. You on bad form is a level of charm most people don’t get to in their entire life.” 

Of course, if you’ve read the book you’ll know what happens. Birdy and Nathan hit it off, forging a steady relationship that Maggie comes to loathe. But not entirely because of who Nathan is as a person. More so because of what that means for the two female friends and their own dynamic.

Everything I Know About Love BBC
Marli Siu (Nell), Emma Appleton (Maggie), Bel Powley (Birdy), Aliyah Odoffin (Amara) in BBC's Everything I Know About Love.

From this first episode, it’s obvious that Birdy – who at first couldn’t even imagine going on a date – is soon wrapped up in the bubble that comes with new love. Maggie embarrassingly stumbles in on Birdy and Nathan, and then exchanges excited whispers with Birdy on the stairs afterwards. She wants to hear all the details – like any good girlfriend does – and asks if they want to drink with her. Birdy, however, declines the offer and tells her about a brunch restaurant Nathan wants to take her to for a second date on the following day.

Even from this small interaction at the end of the first episode, you already know what’s to come for this pair. Maggie is fearfully clutching on to the longheld friendship that has coloured her youth while Birdy wants nothing more than to get lost in her new relationship, however mundane it may seem to Maggie.

While many of us can attest to feeling immense love for our friends, this BBC adaptation shines a light on how this can often lead to the biggest heartache of all – losing a close friend and having to change how you see them.

The BBC series doesn’t hit you with this confrontation outright; instead, it seamlessly weaves it in for you to consider at your leisure. Mostly, though, the series is packed full of relatability, immense nostalgia and the realisation that love comes in so many joyous forms.

The first episode of Everything I Know About Love premieres tonight on BBC One at 10.40pm, with episodes airing weekly and all available to stream on BBC iPlayer afterwards. 

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Images: BBC

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