Depending on who you ask, it’s early morning when Dolly Alderton and I log on for a Zoom chat. We’ve agreed to a call time of 8:30, and it’s around 8:37 when Alderton’s cheerful face suddenly appears on my computer screen.
“Hello. Wow, it’s super early,” she said before catching herself. “Well, it’s not super early for people who get up early or people with young children, but it’s for a 33-year-old single woman.”
Certainly, for someone who isn’t a morning person, Alderton looks remarkably chilled. Which is doubly impressive considering she had terrible sleep. “I don’t sleep well. Today is the day all reviews come out so I had a series of fever dreams which were then live,” she explains.
The “reviews” are for all i know about lovethe television series based on Alderton’s best-selling memoir of 2018. Produced by the same Midas-touch team that brought us Bridget Jones Diary and love in factthe coming-of-age series (streaming here on Stan) is set in 2012 and stars Emma Appleton as Maggie, Bel Powley as Birdy, Marli Siu as Nell and Aliyah Odoffin as the role of Amara, four best friends in their twenties who live in a shared house in London.
Long before filming for the series wrapped, it was pasted on multiple lists of “most anticipated TV shows of 2022.” So yes, expectations are high and giving Alderton literal nightmares.
“Last night I dreamed that the show received zero star reviews from all critics, went down in history as the worst TV show ever made, and the Queen even mentioned it in her jubilee speech platinum,” laughs Alderton. “Then I went to my publicists, we got on a private jet and had cocktails in the Maldives to sympathize. So that was my nightmare.
The fact that Alderton still wakes up in a cold sweat worrying about work is refreshing, even if his night terrors involve private jets, the Maldives and the Queen knowing who she is. Alderton has been somewhat in tears for the past few years, finding professional success extracted from his private life.
Between 2015 and 2017, Alderton wrote a weekly dating column for the British newspaper The Sunday Times, allowing him to flex his two most powerful weapons: humor and heart.
While the column focused primarily on Alderton’s love life, it often touched on the millennial experience as a whole. Columns like “Dolly Alderton on Why She’s Obsessed with Pattern Horoscope App” or “Dolly Alderton on Overcoming FOMO” proved she had her finger on the pulse.
In 2017, she co-created the podcast The high low alongside writer and best friend, Pandora Sykes. Billing itself as a podcast that covers “scholarly and unscholarly culture,” The high low was wonderfully unassuming, only serving to bolster Alderton’s reputation as the internet’s version of a funny best friend.
Together, Alderton and Sykes were just as comfortable dissecting the Met Gala as they were delving into the grief of a miscarriage, and made no apologies for their extensive subject matter. In just over 150 episodes, The high low regularly topped the UK podcast charts and has been downloaded over 30 million times.
At the time of leaving Alderton all i know about love by 2018, she had cemented her reputation as a figure millennials could connect with. Naturally, the book was a bestseller, chronicling the roller coaster of your twenties: sex, drugs, roommates, and the addictive romances that are worth it. But the most important thing was a love letter to friendship.
Prior to the book’s release, it was offered as a series, which brings us to All I know about love the TV show. Like the book, the series is rooted in the familiar: disappointing dates, unfulfilling jobs, and the endless search for what matters most in life.
It’s another extension of the Alderton brand, relatable and heartfelt, but as her audience grows and more people engage with her work, the 33-year-old is wary of being painted as an ordinary woman. “I have a very complicated relationship with the word ‘relatable,'” she says. “To be called ‘relatable’ is an honor, to feel that your writing carries the truth for people, or that they identify with it.
“But that’s never a description I would give myself because there are a lot of ways that I’m incredibly unrelated. I am middle class, privately educated, white, able-bodied, and financially independent without a partner…I am aware that I move around the world in a way that is relatively very easy for many people.
Ironically, as Alderton prepares for the intimacies of her twenties to hit the small screen, at 33 she feels a desire to share less of herself in her work. “I’m constantly self-protective in a way I wasn’t before; I now know how much I want to give. I don’t want to be overexposed,” she says.
“At first I had such a small audience that I wrote about everything, and there was no access control required, which was liberating. But I don’t think it’s bad to age a bit and be a bit more wary of what you put out to the public.
Maybe that’s why the TV version of all i know about love is described as “loosely based” on the memoir, rather than a direct adaptation from page to screen. Maggie is the character based on Dolly and shares a bit in common with Alderton ten years ago, including a Top Shop wardrobe and a love of cigarettes.
But according to Alderton, who serves as executive producer and writer, the similarities end there.
“Emma Appleton is a lot sexier than me. When you adapt something from your real life, you have the right to choose someone ten times funnier and hotter than you,” she says. “Maggie is also a lot sexier. frank as me; she often has what needs to be said, while I’m still thinking about my best bus rides home.
While Alderton may have kept some distance between herself and the show, the show contains moments ripped from her life. And while writing about your embarrassments can be cathartic, I imagine watching actors recreate them would be mortifying?
“Yes, mortifying, that’s how I would describe it,” Alderton laughs. “In the third episode, Maggie tells a guy she’s dating that she loves him for the first time and he laughs in her face, which is word for word something that happened to me in 2012, so it was brutal to relive.
“China Moo-Young (the director) and I had our sweaters on our faces while filming because I honestly couldn’t commit to this scene, it was too excruciating.”
Unanswered declarations of love aside, doing all i know about love as a 33-year-old allowed Alderton to appreciate all that has changed over the past ten years.
“The overwhelming feeling I have in my early 30s compared to my early 20s is that I started prioritizing my own comfort,” she says. “To start, I now own a good vacuum cleaner for adults, a Hoover with real bags that I change regularly.
“But also, I make better decisions. For example, the guy I’m with right now is a bit younger than me and last weekend was the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. He kept talking about having a four day rager but because I knew I couldn’t handle a week long hangover I booked a 6pm movie on Saturday to avoid go out.
Owning a Hoover and dodging a hangover might be the most Alderton way to define progress, but as anyone in their 30s will tell you, it matters. Thankfully, for those who love Alderton’s thoughts on matters of the heart, she admits there’s still some way to go on that front.
“I’ve learned that no matter how much I investigate love and relationships on the page, it won’t protect me from my own heart. It still has its own will, and that heart will make terrible decisions, But that’s part of being human, isn’t it?
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