The Men Of HBO's 'My Brilliant Friend' Can Be Hard To Keep Track Of — Hopefully This Guide Can Help
Spoilers through My Brilliant Friend Episode 6. It can be difficult enough for English-speaking viewers to keep up with the My Brilliant Friend plot (hello, subtitles) without taking into account that the characters are played by a series of different actors. The HBO show centers around Elena Greco (Margherita Mazzucco) and Lila Cerullo (Gaia Girace), yes, but the boys on My Brilliant Friend are arguably just as integral to the complicated, decades-spanning plot.
A lot has changed in their Naples neighborhood over the past six episodes, and Elena (Lenu) and Lila's trajectories have become more pronounced the longer the show has aired. While the young Greco has been fortunate enough to attend high school, Lila's family can't afford higher education. In Episode 6, audiences see Lenu go to Ischia for the first time, spending a summer in relative luxury. Lila, meanwhile, is forced to ward off Marcello Solara's dogged advances. To make things worse, he's got the entire Cerullo family eating from the palm of his hand, bribing them with progressively larger gifts in exchange for Lila's hand in marriage.
Michele Solara, on the other hand, is the neighborhood bully and does his older brother's bidding. And then there's Nino Sarratore, who declared his love for Elena when they were kids and now won't give her the time of day at school. But not all of the boys serve as romantic interests: Rino, for example, is Lila's older brother and arguably her closest friend. But if the show's cast of characters still has audiences perplexed and furiously consulting the novels' family trees, this guide should dispel any further confusion.
Rino Cerullo (Tommaso Rusciano & Gennaro De Stefano)
Lila's older brother works in the Cerullo's family store and dreams of making luxury shoes, becoming rich, and escaping poverty. Not only are he and his sister close, but Rino also defends Lila against their abusive father and attempts — unsuccessfully — to convince Mr. Cerullo to keep Lila in school.
Pasquale Peluso (Francesco Catena & Eduardo Scarpetta)
Pasquale is the son of carpenter Alfredo Peluso, who was imprisoned for allegedly murdering Don Achille Carracci. The Peluso boy is a self-proclaimed socialist and close friends with Rino. Pasquale's also in love with Lila, but when he proposes, she gently says that she doesn't feel the same way.
Marcello Solara (Pietro Vuolo & Elvis Esposito)
The Solara brothers are infamous in the neighborhood for being as violent as they are rich. Marcello is the eldest and falls in love with Lila, but she's determined to reject his advances. And while Lila's parents like Marcello, she's seen his violent side and wants nothing to do with him.
Michele Solara (Adriano Tammaro & Alessio Gallo)
Michele is something like Marcello's henchman and almost always appears onscreen by his brother's side. Their main activity seems to be driving around the neighborhood, preying on teenage girls, which is...gross. The younger Solara's got a thing going with Gigliola Spagnuolo, but it doesn't seem too serious.
Enzo Scanno (Vincenzo Vaccaro & Giovanni Buselli)
Enzo is friends with Pasquale and Rino. When they were little, he threw rocks at Lila for embarrassing him in school but quickly apologized. It seems like he's much more of a gentleman as a teenager and asks Lila to dance at a neighborhood party. He, along with everyone else, is in love with the young Cerullo.
Gino is Lenu's classmate and brief boyfriend. In Episode 3, he and a friend corner Elena in the girls' bathroom and pay her ten lire to show them her breasts. Gino later asks Lenu to go steady with him, and she agrees — but only out of competitiveness with Lila. However, Elena's never invested in the relationship and breaks it off after a few months.
Nino Sarratore (Alessandro Nardi & Francesco Serpico)
Nino is the eldest child of Donato and Lidia Sarratore. His father is a womanizing poet, and their family is forced to leave the neighborhood after he has a torrid affair with Melina Cappuccio. Nino goes to Elena's high school, but he doesn't say a word to her until they spend time together in Ischia. The teenagers bond over books and eventually share a romantic kiss on the beach.
Stefano Carracci (Kristijan Di Giacomo & Giovanni Amura)
Stefano is Don Achille's oldest son. He runs their family grocery store and has the hots for Lila (get in line, bud!). And although Pasquale's father killed Don Achille, Stefano decides to bury the hatchet between the two families during an explosive New Year's Eve party in Episode 5.
Alfonso Carracci (Valerio Laviano Saggese & Fabrizio Cottone)
The younger Carracci is a sensitive boy and sometimes cries in school. In fact, when they were younger, Alfonso, Nino, and Enzo were all humiliated by Lila (and Lenu, to a lesser extent) in a school competition. As a result, Stefano retaliates by beating up the young Cerullo. However, it doesn't seem like Lila remembers how terribly Stefano treated her way back when.
What's so interesting about watching all of these characters grow up is seeing what they remember (Nino's proposal to Lenu on the staircase) and what they've conveniently forgotten (how mean Stefano was to Lila). And since there are still two episodes of My Brilliant Friend left, it's anyone's guess as to what happens between Elena, Lenu, and the neighborhood boys in the following weeks (unless audiences have already read the book, that is).