Rebecca Patton – Nov 27, 2018
Spoilers ahead for My Brilliant Friend Episodes 3 and 4 Getting your period for the first time can be terrifying, but it’s doubly so for Elena Greco (Margherita Mazzucco) on HBO’s My Brilliant Friend. In the third episode, which aired on Sunday, Nov. 25, the young Greco notices she’s bleeding. She doesn’t go to her mother, with whom she has a complicated relationship, but instead walks across their neighborhood courtyard, a blood stain visible through her skirt. “I hurt myself between my legs,” Elena, affectionately called Lenu, says once she finds her best friend (and sometimes nemesis) Lila (Gaia Girace). That she first believes her period is somehow her fault is just one telling example of how violent puberty is for the young women of My Brilliant Friend. It’s treated not as a normal event that everyone goes through, but something to be feared, especially because of the unwanted male attention that comes with it.
Lila hasn’t gotten her period yet and has no idea what Lenu’s talking about. However, Carmela (Francesca Pezzella) explains that “Aunt Flo has paid her a visit.” Lila, mad that she doesn’t have her period yet, says they’re disgusting and that anyone who gets them is disgusting, too. Even Mrs. Greco seems to imply that periods are shameful, telling her daughter that she needs to pin her pads securely to her underwear because if they fall out, it could be “really embarrassing” for her. Not because it’s a pain to wash out, or messy, but that it’s sure to encourage bullying wherever she ends up.