Dietland premieres June 4th, 9pm on AMC.
By Jeffery Shellenbarger
Dietland (based on the novel of the same name) centers around a woman called Plum Kettle—a ghostwriter for a fashion magazine who hopes to stop living in the shadows by slimming down through bariatric surgery. Being fat denies her many opportunities in both her career and love life, and after many failed attempts to lose weight via fad diets, she has taken to severe calorie restrictions in order to shed enough pounds to be eligible for surgery. What separates this story from so many other stories dealing with body image issues is the degree of realism presented in this show.
Joy Nash channels so much realism into Plum that you forget that Plum is a fictional character. In her side job as a baker at her gay best friend’s coffee shop, Plum bakes cakes that drive people wild. When she whips up a batch of frosting for a cake and takes a small taste, the look of terror she gives as she realizes that she ate outside of her allotted calories is one not-unfamiliar with anyone with body image issues. She rushes to the sink to not only wash out the frosting, but to wash out the shame.
This show goes beyond beauty standards, though. The show aims to build up women in general by also diving into the #MeToo movement. Lurking in the shadows of Plum’s story is a feminist revenge plot against men who make a habit of abusing women. Serial abusers are being kidnapped by women dressed as witches, being forced to confess for their crimes against women, and then being dropped to their deaths from highway overpasses, tall buildings, and aircraft. As we learn more and more about this scheme, we see how Plum may be connected.
As I watched my screener, Twitter was blowing up over Kim Kardashian’s endorsement of appetite suppressing lollipops. It seemed all too perfect as this is exactly the sort of thing addressed by the show—this whole industry that exists to make women feel inadequate. Kim Kardashian survives the patriarchy by playing her role in maintaining its system of oppression. Perhaps, like Plum, she will be given the opportunity to rise against it.