EPISODE 10: 9: You’re more challenging than that.

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Show Notes

How much can we trust our memory? Sex therapist Dr. Martha Kauppi tells us to stop wasting time on the evidence. Writer Mark O’Halloran talks about the experience ghost writing for Frances and actor Emmanuel Okoye helps us think about who our characters are when they’re not seen through Frances’s eyes.

Martha Kauppi



Straw media. Well, norm is
there anything else you want to ask her?

I love your shirt. Is that
glitter? It is. It's amazing.

Welcome to conversations with friends and strangers. I'm Maggie. I'm the Lam

in the show we take a closer
look at the complicated relationships. In the

Hulu series conversations with friends. Will
meet some of the cast and crew,

chat with experts and share our own
kind of sexy, kind of uncomfortable,

but relatable stories about the messy relationships
we find ourselves in today. On the

show we're really starting to question our
own memory. How much can we trust

it? Psych Therapist Dr Martha coupy
tells us to stop wasting time with the

evidence. In certain situations, only
climate change is real. People. Podcast

host Jillian Hamilton shares some of the
wisdom she's collected. Then Marco Holler and

talks about ghostwriting for Francis, and
actor Emanuel Okoyer helps us think about who

our characters are when they're not seen
through Francis's eyes. Is She an unreliable

narrator? You're an unreliable narrator.
I don't know why you're being so aggressive

right now. All right, let's
recap. Frances story about Bobby continues.

She tries to buy a coffee but
her account is over a drawn. She

can't reach her dad, and then
now he reaches out for a drink.

She says Melissa speaks very highly of
her, and so Francis sends her the

fresh short story. The period pain
comes back and it's so bad this time

she passes out in the rain while
crossing the quad to meet Bobby. Yeah,

to quad. Bobby takes care of
her and she's very, very sweet,

and they have a little hard to
heart while Francis is my bath and

Bobby Calls Nick and tells him to
come over her. Frances finally tells them

what's going down with you? Why
ended? They say truck, and everyone

is being very nice to Francis.
Nick even told Melissa about the relationship.

They love each other and, to
quote a different joint and newsome song,

for the time being, all as
well. Now that we've seen episode nine,

or three quarters of the way through
the story, I feel like we've

gotten to know our characters pretty well
by now, though there's always room for

change, and we're also getting pretty
detailed accounts of how Francis feels about bobby

through her short story. So we'll
talk about characters more today. But there's

this moment when Francis in the bath
and talking to bobby the way. You

don't me what for being difficult.
I didn't dump you. I ended it

to save you the trouble. You
to let it drag on for months.

We were miserable, so I won't
remember. I can't help that. That

had me thinking about the idea of
misaligned memories, where one person remembers an

important moment differently than the other person
involved. That's a really, really common

dynamic and it's built on some big
misconceptions. Here's a coppy. So the

way that I would clear that up
with my clients and in my own relationship

and for anybody would be to explain
when you have a difficult interaction, the

way that you record it is very
unique and self protective. So you're noticing

the things that you perceive as a
threat, which are going to be different

from what somebody else perceives as a
threat in that situation, and you're going

to remember things in kind of a
fragmented way. And so when some time

goes by and then you revisit that
event and you say what the events were

that you perceived. Your partner's memory
is not going to match because they took

the snapshot and their brain from their
own self protective stance. So it's the

biggest waste of time ever to try
to square up history after the fact.

It just never ever works. Not
only is it a big fat waste of

time, Martha says, it's also
not necessary to resolve the conflict. The

much more important conversation is about what
did you perceive, my darling? So

what did you experience? What happened
for you? What did you perceive that

I was saying or doing? What
did it mean to you, so that

I can understand and we can go
back and forth both ways, so that

everybody can learn not how to do
it different but what their partner constructed from

that thing, what it meant to
them, and begin to realize that how

we make meaning of events is as
unique as a fingerprint. There is no

other way to find out what happened
for your partner. No kind of real

of movie events unfolding is going to
tell you what happened. That is important.

What's important is what happened inside of
you, as in how did it

get under your skin? What did
it mean to you? What emotions did

you experience, and then to begin
to kind of lean into that. I'm

so sorry that you felt frightened them. So sorry that you were upset.

I'm so sorry that you felt betrayed
or, you know, whatever it was.

It wasn't my intention. I don't
even remember at the same way,

but that's not the point. The
point as you experienced what you're experienced,

and so how can we start to
get past it, remedy it and also

eventually make decisions? I would be
making decisions, of course, to help

my partner not have a traumatizing experience
wherever possible, but I'm not going to

be able to predict that unless my
partner actually share something about how they make

meaning. So we have to remember
it's not about facts, it's not about

the evidence, it's about our personal
experience, and knowing that is can be

very liberating. Right. It's and
it's a really important point because it comes

up all the time, because we
really want to square up the facts.

We want to get a record,
you know, in place. We want,

we wish they're that a movie out
of it so that we could prove

our point. We got a therapy
so that our therapist can be the judge

and jury and say that we were
right in our partner was wrong and they

did US wrong. And, you
know, then tell us what to do,

but only tell us what to do
if I'm the one that gets what

they want. Don't tell us what
to do with my partner gets with right.

So that's just a convoluted mess and
it's a enormous waste of time.

Now that you said that, I
realize that I remember that with an x

of mine we recorded one of our
fights, just a sagreement that we had,

and we played it back in the
morning and we were both just embarrassed.

Nothing did came out of it.
Really let's just forget this ever happened.

Never do better. Then I think
that's a great experiment because I think

we all have to kind of learn
that memory is plastic, like it's not

concrete. It's but we relate to
it as if like this is a rock

and it's my bedrock. And if
you can't even agree with the facts that

I know are true, then what
do we even have together and how can

I even trust you? And you
know that comes from such a deep and

real place, but it is a
self protective stance that if based on a

complete fiction about how memory works.
And also every time we take a memory

out of storage and take a look
at it and put it back in storage,

we also have changed it again.
So the more times I ruminate about

that fight, this or I becolm
about my perception of what happened, and

I'm never going to feel understood by
my partner unless my partner asks me what

I perceived and what I experienced.
And they would have to actually really separate

themselves from a need to be right
or see at the same in order to

give me what I'm looking for.
So we go looking in the wrong places

for the wrong things. With that
conversation. HMM. I really loved talking

with Dr Martha Cowpy. She's got
a really special energy about her. Yes,

very calming and she makes me feel
like I'm capable of being reasonable.

We've been friends now for something like
four years. Have we ever had a

fight where we disagreed on the fundamentals
of what happened? Maybe not us,

but I know we were both party
to a fight that dragged on for quite

a while. MMMM. Her feelings, miscommunication, hunger. Yeah, and

I remember going through the text messages
where that fight started and progressed, and

rereading them obsessively for confirmation of my
own position. It didn't. We want

to make it into a one act
play and some point you did. Did

that helped resolve the conflict? Thought, yeah, I think you know the

answer that question. Answer is no. The answer is no. And that

fight dragged on for quite a long
time. Yeah, it did. But

back to this episode, we get
to hear a lot more of Francis a

short story the dance, and that's
something that we didn't actually get to read

in the novel. Similar to the
spoken Mord poetry they performed together. Sally

Mooney leaves that up to the reader's
imagination. But bringing the story into the

visual realm, they had to actually
write some of that story. I think

I was the only one who understood
her power over circumstance and people. It

seemed to me that what she wanted
she could have and the rest was cast

aside. We met in secondary school. She was the new girl back then.

She was opinionated and frequently in detention. Nobody liked her, which drew

me to her immediately. When we
were seventeen, we had to attend a

fundraising dance in the school. She
wore a flimsy summer dress and trainers.

She was radiantly attractive. I told
her I liked her dress and she gave

me some of the fog that she
was drinking. We snuck off together and

I could hear the music buzzing from
inside like a ring tone that belonged to

someone else. She gave me more
of her vodka and asked me if I

like girls. I just said sure. Here's writer Marco Haller. And again,

on that process, there is a
text that is alluded to that is

felt to be a catalyst for a
major psychological and emotional shift within the novel.

And then there was toying with the
idea that perhaps the novel itself is

the text. So what we did
was what what I did was I collected

all of the pieces from the book
that she says about Bobby, our bobby

says about her in describing them,
and constructed the short story out of those.

So again it was feeling as if
was coming from the book, that

the person who loves the book will
come to this drama and recognize it,

that we're not pulling tricks with people, are introducing new texts and it worked

out really well. There was a
degree of trial and error with that,

of trying to get the tone of
it rice, but I thought it was

the right approach. Yeah, I
think so too. I mean it's funny.

It's almost like ghostwriting for for Francis, right. Yeah, yeah,

yeah, the whole idea of adapting
this massively internal novel into a television series

is so wild to me. Yeah, I mean Sally has such complex characters.

They're inner world is very, very
rich, especially Francis, and I

feel they did a very good job. Okay, let's take a quick break

and when we come back we'll talk
to mark a little bit more about the

process of adapting. Welcome back.
Right now we are in conversation with writer

Mark o'halloran about the process of adapting
the novel conversations with friends into the series.

Conversations with friends. I mean there
was episode nine for me, was

possibly a more satisfying writing experience for
me, because the drama is is quite

odd, because it's centered, I
mean half of it is centered, in

the bathroom and she's having a bath
and she's ill and she's in ex emotional

extremists and bobby invites him back into
their lives and I thought that triangulation of

emotional relationships is incredibly both sad and
affecting. Actually, I felt really sorry

for Bobby at times in the book. Actually, yeah, she's definitely tragic

character. I enjoyed the fact that
that episode night that we saw more of

Bobby. I felt that, well, this is very friends has forward as

a series in thirty minutes. That
makes sense, but bobby such a great

character and an episode nine is like
that. Okay, here's Bob Back.

Well, she just is for quite
a lot of the novel actually, and

and sometimes I feel in the novel
she's the idea of a character. Sometimes

or she's the idea that Francis has
of the character. I don't mean that

is criticism of the writing. I
mean that that's just the structural reality of

it. And to make her reel
was quite a job of work actually for

all of us to try and find
her. And we have the same with

nick actually to really solidify nick and
and to make him more grounded and more

believable. And literally, it's literally, because Francis has a lot of ideas

about people, but that's not necessarily
who they are really. When you you

get out of Francis his head and
look at them, and that was quite

interesting. And Bobby's really incredibly complex
and kind of joyous at the same time.

And she's wicked, you know,
she pushes things and I like that

about her. This is all super
interesting to me about the adaptation because,

you know, Francis in the novel
is an unreliable narrator and she can't be

quite so unreliable in the series because
it doesn't work in a visual realm,

you know, because she is very
much the hero of her own story,

even though she's the hero of our
story. Feel there is a very good

point that you brought up earlier,
not in the podcast, in real life,

when we were talking about this and
you said a very good example is

that conversation has with Melissa Croatia.
Do you remember? Yeah, so she

says you're not fucking him, are
you? But in the series she says

there's nothing I should know right,
which had me thinking, is that really

the way Melissa asked it in France
or is that the way that Frances perceived

or heard the question? Because it's
the same question she's asking and for those

of us who read the book,
it's kind of like A. It's an

eye opening moment of Oh, in
the way that Dr Cowpy was saying there's

no movie real to play back after
a disagreement. In a way the job

of the writers adapting a novel that
was written in the first person, like

conversations with friends, is deciding how
to recreate that real of what happened in

a realistic way, while still taking
into account how important our main character perspective

is. Nick, bobby and Melissa
are all very different in the series versus

the book, because they have to
be real people seen from the viewers perspective

and not just Francis has this.
There's a brilliant set of script editors who

work within element. Chelsea Morgan Hoffman
is one of them, and Evan Norton,

and they were tasked with caring for
the complete arc of the of the

drama, because Marc ro episodes two, three and nine, but other writers

like Alice Birch and made mq and
Susan. Soon he's Stanton, we're writing

other episodes and so you start to
lose track of that drama. They will

come to you and say look,
you need to hit these points here because

their echoed in in episode seven and
you you got to keep and you got

to listen to them and hear that
as well, you know, and then

they also will tell you whether something
is balanced or unbalanced within within the voice

that's heard in the text, whether
something whether you need to amplify it a

little bit more, whether characters are
beginning to sound not like each other.

Across multiple episodes it's been there was
a bit of that gold going on.

I curious if there's a particular character
in the story that you relate to the

most or that you had maybe the
most fun sort of adapting or are getting

to know on the screen. I'm
not often like that as a writer.

I don't often feel but I have
to say that I think possibly we all

think we're Frances. I just enjoyed
her confusion at life and yet her honest

way in which she went about meeting
it. I remember when I was like

I was like eighteen or nineteen years
of age and I was I went to

university for a while but I didn't
finish and I was very confused in life

about what I wanted to do and
I remember I went with debating society thing

that was going on and there was
like the house cells that we are scandalized

by, I don't know, some
government policy, and I watched all these

people of my own age debating and
having a really opinions about everything and I

just felt I'm the most black person
in the whole works. I have no

opinions about this. I don't have
any any opinion about any of this noise

and I when I was brightening the
o're adapting the the the novel at I'm

I thought I remembered something of Francis
is confusion, although Frances probably has more

opinions than but she's also she can
move, she can contradict herself, she

can I don't think she's a set
in stone as as perhaps some people who

would counter her in the novel thing. She is and that's kind of interesting.

So I really I dog her?
I don't, but she was what

she was going through. Yeah,
I mean as too. I think.

I think we all see ourselves in
and Francis in the in the romantic ways

and then also in the really UN
unhealthy and unromantic ways. You know.

I think that's why the story is
so powerful. I agree. I think

that there's something that she is convinced
of herself and the black and white in

her world through not a lot of
grays that I feel we develop with time,

but she's very smart at the same
time. So it's just very confusing

because he's building her own walls that
she's running into. Francis in the butt

France in the show. We're all
Francis. We may all be Francis,

but with these other characters being brought
into the realm of reality, some of

us are actually bobby and especially the
way they cast it with Sasha is just

incredible. In my opinion. I
think it's like inspired gas, like Louise

Kylie did an incredible job with the
casting. That's actor Emmanuel Oh coyea.

He plays Andrew, as she always
does, clearly, but I'm a great

example of how you should adopt source
material for a different medium, in my

opinion. Yeah, I probably relate
more to boggy because, like, she

has that duel identity, you know, as an American and and Irish,

has like one parent from both in
the in the show now that they've in

the adaptation, and I feel like
I've always felt that being Nigerian Irish,

you just constantly flitting between two different
modes of expression depending on who you're interacting

with and yeah, I feel like
that might might come out for Bobby.

What about like these like complicated relationship
dynamics? Do you think that there's like

a specifically Irish flavor to these like
messy like x's that remain friends in like

affairs with married couples and, you
know, blurred sexuality? Do you think

that that's like a Dublin thing or
do you think that's more of like a

universal idea? I don't know that
it is a specifically Irish thing. If

anything, I think it's a it's
more of a trinity thing that, because

like trinity has a reputation of like
of like people who love over indulging in

like the arts and what am I
trying to say now? I think it's

does the it achieves what I feel
like every artist is trying to do by

making it like really really specific and
through that also making it universal, if

that makes any sense, a hundred
percent. So I don't know that it

is particularly Irish, but it is
particularly human, I think, to have

messy relationships, because we're all messy. We're all messy, as as much

as we, you know, try
to pretend otherwise. I feel like the

only connection I can maybe make with
Irish culture and identity would be the fact

that Ireland is so small, so
that when you make connections that you like

real authentic, genuine connections with somebody
and it doesn't pan out how you would

maybe like, there are that many
other options. So you kind of a

to just be an adult and you
know if it if, if it's if

it didn't end horribly, of course, then yet you just stay with the

people that you've formed a connection with. I don't know if that's appliable in

larger cities, but I feel like
definitely here anyway, like I from secondary

school to now, I have very
few like really really intimate relationships and that

and and friendships, and I'd feel
like, regardless of what happens over the

course of those relationships, I'll just
always want to know that person. Get

me. MMM, at this point
in episode nine, Nick has finally told

Melissa everything. She'd be angry and
I was ready for that. It was

a difficult conversation. I tell them
everything, what everything me, because I

want to keep saying so the relationship
is out in the open. But what's

going to happen next? I'm curious. Over the years how often would you

say you see a relationship recover from
a major infidelity? Because of an optimist,

I'd have to say most of the
time I see it recover. This

is Jillian Hamilton. She's the host
and producer of the podcast cheating when love

lies. Because that doesn't necessarily mean
the two parties are coming back together in

life partner bliss. Maybe they've grown
from the experience, have moved on individually,

but the experience of the affair has
benefited their emotional personal growth. I

think that that's true, that sometimes
cheating is the jumping off point for recognizing

that something isn't working right exactly,
and it is a myth that people believe.

Well, things aren't working there for
I cheat. Someone can't cheat simply

for the thrill of the adventure,
for self discovery, as we discuss more

and more often the idea of polyamory
being fluid. Some people will use cheating

or affairs to discover themselves as other
sexual identities. How to show this show

is hosted and produced by me,
Maggie Balls, and me. No,

I'm Gadweiser. It's written and edited
by me, with assistant editing. By

nowam are supervising producer is Ryan Tillotson, with help from Tyler Nielsen, Frank

Driscoll, Nick Bailey and the entire
Straw hut team. Theme Music is by

Maggie Glass and square fish, and
big thanks to Aria a shy, Lauren

Thorpe, xavior Salas and the Hulu
team. How to make me smile a little child
Conversations With Friends & Strangers
Welcome to Conversations With Friends and Strangers! Join Maggie & Noam as they take a closer look at the complicated relationships in the Hulu series, Conversati... View More




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