Conversations With Friends is slated for no chemistry and accents

Conversations With Friends is slated for no chemistry and accents


‘This is so cringe!’ Conversations With Friends is slammed as ‘dull and awkward’ as viewers say there is ‘no physical chemistry’ between the actors – while slating Joe Alwyn’s Irish accent as ‘painful’

  • Conversations With Friends, adapted for BBC Three, was released yesterday 
  • Follows hit adaptation of the authors novel Normal People which aired in 2020
  • Drama stars Taylor Swift’s boyfriend Joe Alwyn and Girls actress Jemima Kirke
  • Slated by viewers as ‘awkward’, with many saying there was ‘no chemistry’
  • Others watching criticised Alwyn’s Irish accent in the lead role as Nick

The highly-anticipated adaptation of Sally Rooney’s steamy novel Conversations with Friends has been slammed by viewers – with many criticising the ‘cringey’ sex scene and lack of chemistry between the lead actors. 

After Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal enjoyed global fame following the wildly popular adaptation of Normal People, fans were desperate to see which how the next cast of actors bring the authors work to life.

The BBC Three adaptation, which premiered yesterday, follows a mysterious, sexy married couple, Nick (Joe Alwyn) and Melissa (Jemima Kirke), and their unusual attraction to two younger women, Frances (Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (Sasha Lane). 

Frances embarks on an erotic affair with Nick while trying to reconcile her feelings for best friend and ex-girlfriend Bobbi, whom she is in love with.

However viewers slated the series after it was released last night, with many commenting it was ‘slow and tense and awkward and dull.’

Meanwhile others criticised English actor Alwyn’s attempt at an Irish accent, with one writing: ‘Joe Alwyn’s Irish accent is painful.’

Sally Rooney’s highly-anticipated adaptation of Sally Rooney’s steamy novel Conversations with Friends has been slammed by viewers – with many criticising the ‘cringey’ sex scene and lack of chemistry between the lead actors

Viewers slated the series after it was released last night, with many commenting it was ‘slow and tense and awkward and dull’

Like Rooney’s 2018 smash, Conversations With Friends is also set in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. 

The first episode of the series introduced the lead characters, best friends and ex-girlfriends Bobbi and Frances, who meet mysterious and sexy older couple Melissa and Nick at a poetry night in Dublin.

Bobbi immediately becomes infatuated with Melissa and openly begins a flirtation with the older woman, who appears flattered by the attention. 

Meanwhile Frances finds herself drawn to Melissa’s husband, Nick.

Viewers slammed the programme, with many calling it ‘immensely awkward and boring’, as well as criticising the chemistry between the lead actors 

Baffled Conversations With Friends viewers claim Taylor Swift’s boyfriend has been ‘miscast’ in new BBC drama 

The casting of Joe Alwyn as Nick Conway left viewers baffled – with many questioning whether Joe was right for the role, with the book’s character being older. 

Referring to a quote from a review by Variety, one person tweeted: ‘This is pretty on point. A point I forgot to make, Nick doesn’t come off as an older man at all so it made that whole storyline not work.

‘V miscast #ConversationswithFriends. “But he just doesn’t read as old enough to sell how many years are ostensibly between Nick and Frances.”‘

Someone else posted: ’15 mins into #ConversationswithFriends and I’ve got only one question: With all due respect, what were they thinking when they cast Joe Alwyn?’

While referring to actor Paul Mescal who played Connell Waldron in Normal People, another viewer wrote: ‘I’m just gonna say it; Joe Alwyn is no Paul Mescal and that’s the first thing that’s wrong with #ConversationswithFriends I’m away to rewatch Normal People.’

Someone else shared: ‘I’m sorry but everyone saying “i get it” it’s like WHAT are you getting??? Because Joe Alwyn is NOT giving what Paul Mescal gaveth.’

Another viewer joked: ‘Me: Can you believe Joe Alwyn went to the same drama school as Andrew Garfield? My friend: He definitely bunked classes.


As the series continues, Frances and Nick embark on an elicit affair, with the foursome becoming more and more entangled with one another.

The group holiday together in Croatia, where their romance deepens.  

Nick ultimately reveals the affair to his wife, who accepts the relationship having had her own affairs, and Nick begins to date Frances openly within the group.

Eventually Frances rekindles her romantic relationship with both Bobbi and Nick, with the four continuing their elicit attraction to one another despite the complexities. 

The first episode aired on BBC Three last night, while the whole 12-part series was also released on iPlayer.

However many viewers were highly critical of the offering, with one writing: ‘Not really seeing the chemistry between Frances and Nick, would strongly prefer to see Bobbi and Melissa.’ 

Another wrote: ‘There are many issues with Conversations with Friends, chief of them being that the lead actors don’t have much chemistry and are not very strong actors to carry a truly thin storyline for 12 episodes. 

‘The story here makes #NormalPeople storyline seem like a masterpiece.’ 

One added: ‘Apart from Frances – I don’t like the direction they took with the adaptation. Bobbi American?! Nick English!? Apart from Frances, the chemistry felt cringe. 

‘Book was good, not sure about this. Don’t think I’m gonna keep watching sadly.’ 

Another commented: ‘So far Conversations with Friends is slow and tense and awkward and dull.’ 

‘The truth is that Joe Alwyn is serving Acute OTH-era Chad Michael Murray in Conversations with Friend, a show where the lead couple do little except walk around looking haunted and breathing heavily on each other.

‘Physically impossible for two people to have less chemistry.’ 

Meanwhile others criticised Alwyn, who was born in Kent, for his attempt at an Irish accent. 

One wrote: ‘I’m sorry, but Joe’s accent is so bad, it sounds English. 

Meanwhile others criticised the casting of Joe Alwyn, Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, with many suggesting it was ‘roaming’ 

‘It’s an Irish production, I don’t know why/how no one of the crew picked up on it and fed back to him.’

A second added: ‘Joe Alwyn’s accent is turning on and off like a light switch lol.’ 

The new series comes after the success of Rooney’s 2018 novel Normal People which was adapted into a ratings smash hit TV series last year. 

It saw show leads Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, who took on Connell and Marianne’s love story, soar to fame after it aired during the first lockdown.   

The BBC Three adaptation, which premiered yesterday follows two younger women, Frances (Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (Sasha Lane) as they navigate the lines between friendship and romance (pictured) 

The programme sees Frances maintaining a romantic relationship with both Bobbi and Nick (played by Joe Alwyn) with the four continuing their elicit attraction to one another despite the complexities

Normal People has been the most watched show on BBC Three ever with more than 23 million downloads globally and over 6.75 million devices watching the first episode. This makes it the most popular programme on the channel ever. 

The 12-part drama is based on Rooney’s bestselling novel about the turbulent relationship between working-class Connell [Mescal] and well-heeled Marianne [Edgar-Jones], has been praised for its unflinching take on sexuality.

Author Rooney hit the headlines in October after  she defended rejecting the publisher’s offer to translate her new book – which topped UK and Irish charts since its release in September – saying she backed a cultural boycott of Israel.

Conversations with Friends tells the story of how former couple Frances and Bobbi end up enjoying an affair with writer Melissa and her boyfriend Nick. Pictured from left: Bobbi (played by Sasha Lane), Nick (played by Joe Alwyn), Frances (played by Alison Oliver) and Melissa (played by Jemima Kirke) 

However the decision sparked a wave of criticism against the author and screenwriter. 

Some took to social media to label Miss Rooney’s decision as ‘anti-Semitic’, while others questioned why her books were published for an audience in China – which has been accused of human rights abuses over its treatment of Uighur Muslims.

But the author defended her decision – which she said was not to have the book published by an Israeli-based publishing house – and that the Hebrew language rights were ‘still available’. 

Intimate: Paul Mescal, 24, shot to fame last year alongside Daisy, 22, in the BBC drama, about two young lovers – gaining particular attention for their intimate, realistic sex scenes

Talented: Sally first published Conversations With Friends in 2017 and released Normal People in 2018, with the latter winning Costa Book Award and Irish Novel of the Year – to name a few accolades (pictured in January 2020) 

Conversations with Friends splits critics, with one branding the show ‘sleep-inducing’ while another declares it a ‘sensational follow-up’ to Normal People 

Conversations With Friends was highly anticipated ahead of its release on Sunday – but it hasn’t quite sold all of the nation’s TV critics.  

While The Telegraph’s Marianka Swain lavished five stars on the series, which sees former couple Frances and Bobbi end up enjoying a tangled affair with writer Melissa and her boyfriend Nick, The Independent’s Nick Hilton offered a more caustic appraisal, suggesting it was as slow as the late Captain Tom’s charity walking. 

The drama sees millennial couple Nick and Melissa enticed by art student Frances (centre) and her former girlfriend Bobbi

Critics have given it mix reviews with many hailing it a success, and better than 2020’s Normal People

Conversations With Friends might yet win over TV audiences but some critics were less than sold on it.  

The Independent’s Nick Hilton wrote: ‘Though it is undoubtedly slow, solipsistic, and self-satisfied, the show has an ambient appeal. It is television designed to be watched out of the corner of your eye while scrolling through Instagram, peering in at strangers on two screens simultaneously.’ 

The Telegraph’s Marianka Swain disagreed, writing: ”The creative band is back together, led by director Lenny Abrahamson and co-writer Alice Birch, and they’ve reprised their winning format: 12 extremely moreish half-hour episodes which sensitively tease out everyone’s fraught feelings via charged silences, cryptic text messages and intimate, authentic sex scenes.’

And The Irish Times’ Ed Power went one step further, describing it as ‘superior’ to Normal People, writing: ‘It feels more substantial than Normal People. Rooney fans will lap it up. For everyone else, the wow factor of a prestige television take on Dublin – albeit empty and lockdown-grim – is sure to bring is own pleasures too.’  

Here, FEMAIL shares a selection of reviews of Conversations With Friends, so you can make up your mind whether it is worth tuning in to watch. 



Marianka Swain writes: ‘The team behind Normal People reunite to bring another soulful, sexy and complex Sally Rooney creation to life on screen. Can the BBC’s second Sally Rooney adaptation possibly live up to Normal People mania? Well, if there’s any justice, this sensational follow-up should be just as big of a hit – if not bigger. 

Marianka Swain was a fan of show ahead of its release on Sunday on BBC Three (Pictured: Frances and Bobbi)

‘Admittedly, it’s not as voraciously carnal as Normal People, but that’s because we’ve moved on from teen lust. Although Conversations with Friends (BBC Three) is actually Rooney’s debut novel, it’s a much more complex and challenging premise. Frances (played by magnetic newcomer Alison Oliver) is a bisexual student at Trinity College Dublin who performs spoken-word poetry with her ex-girlfriend, Bobbi.  

It’s an inventive ticking time bomb of a ménage à quatre, and the fallout is thrilling – and constantly surprising.’



Phoebe Luckhurst writes: ‘As a novel, Conversations With Friends is extraordinary: intense; cerebral; political; exhilarating; a quiet tour-de-force that coined a genre of acerbic copycats. It experiments with form and text; its characters experiment with unconventional relationships. This adaptation is a watered down version of it.

‘The dialogue is sharp and the universe beautiful, and the whole show is in moments exhilarating, although often a little too pared back. At 12 episodes it is also long and can feel rather baggy.’



Metro’s Charlotte Manning said the chemistry was ‘all bang on’ in the latest adaptation of Rooney’s work (Pictured: The character of Melissa)

Charlotte Manning writes: ‘It’s one of a recently revived BBC Three’s biggest hopes of 2022, so it’s no surprise the broadcaster realise just how key Conversations With Friends will be in determining it a success.

‘The main four are all bang on with the chemistry, yet Oliver and Alwyn deliver a particular spark as Frances and Nick, perfectly encapsulating the frustration and deep emotional conflict amid the moral dilemma of starting an affair, with the exact person you really want to be with.’ 



Flora Carr writes: ‘Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel Conversations with Friends opens with the phrase ‘Bobbi and I’, introducing our narrator Frances as one half of a package deal: there is no Frances without Bobbi.

‘Likewise, the new, melancholic TV adaptation from BBC Three and Hulu opens with a shot of the two best friends sitting together, their heads bent over a new poem Frances has penned, as Bobbi reads it aloud.

‘Although the ex-lovers-turned-friends spend most of the series falling for other people, its their mutual love and will-they-won’t-they relationship that provides the cornerstone of the series.



Nick Hilton writes: ‘Though it is undoubtedly slow, solipsistic, and self-satisfied, the show has an ambient appeal. It is television designed to be watched out of the corner of your eye while scrolling through Instagram, peering in at strangers on two screens simultaneously.

Nick Hilton suggested: ‘It is television designed to be watched out of the corner of your eye’ (Pictured: Bobbi, played by Sasha Lane)

‘And if the prospect of watching the lives of a group of rather entitled millennials unravel at a pace closer to Captain Tom than Mo Farah doesn’t excite you, there are plenty of close-ups of beautiful people kissing to keep you distracted.

‘The problem of protraction (or compression) is endemic in the adaptation of novels, but the pacing of Conversations with Friends feels so indulgently languorous, the milieu (whether in Ireland or Croatia) so oppressively repetitive, that the effect is, at best, hypnotic, and, at worst, soporific. 

Conversations with Friends is released on Sunday 15th May 2022, appearing on BBC One, BBC Three and BBC iPlayer for UK viewers. Viewers based in the US can watch the 12-part series on Hulu. 


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