Welcome back to the second part of the Dietland premiere; S1:E02 Tender Belly. Last time we met everyone, let's find out where we go from here.
We're back with young Plum (Jayme Cocuzza) hiding from flashes outside her house, while grown Plum reminds us of Margaret Atwood's famous saying about the difference between men and women. Women are afraid men will kill them, men are afraid women will laugh at them. Plum (JoyNash) gets both.
She's at the doctor's office, naked save for a paper robe, I love her little flat bum! Her doctor isn't as impressed with it, or her slow weight loss, so we get a montage of all the different ways Plum has tried to lose weight over the years. The only one that even came close was the Baptist Plan.
The doctor cannot 'authorize' the surgery for Plum until she loses a further 15 pounds, he wants her to cut another 500 calories from her day. That puts her under 700, which is far less than a competent health official should recommend.
Plum's insurance is no longer paying directly for heinous medical advice, she has to fork over $170 to be insulted and ignored by an overweight male doctor.
She can't afford it, according to news anchor Cheryl Crane-Murphy (Rowena King), who goes on to tell everyone about what they're calling the Jennifer Murders.
Julia (Tamara Tunie) and Leeta (Erin Darke) are brainstorming in the Beauty Closet; Leeta can't believe Plum sent them the email addresses! Julia warns Leeta away from Plum from then on, she must not question her authority! Leeta's "that seems a little 'second wave'" made me laugh out loud.
Kitty Montgomery (Julianna Margulies) has come to the closet. Panic!
Plum stares at the book Dietland by Verena Baptist (Robin Weigert) and talks about her new eating plan with Steven (Tramell Tillman); he suggests she treat it like his green tea cleanse!
Back in the closet, Kitty is stressed out and looking for the next new thing to improve her life. This email hack has her worried, what if they come after her next?
Julia calms her down: Kitty only does women's titles, she's safe. What she does is so vitally important that they THINK it's unimportant.
But if women didn't actively try to keep each other down with concern trolling and makeovers and diet groups, it would be left to the men! You know they lack the subtlety.
Ben (Will Seefried) asks if Plum will make his birthday cake, he admires her baking so. She demurs, baking is too tortuously tempting while on plan, but considers his invite to the party (with incredulity - he has 50 friends??) until her phone interrupts.
She was so worried about sharing the Lost Girl email addresses with Julia, but that's because she had no idea how small a role she was playing in the revolution breaking lose across the world.
We see a photographer being led into the woods by a beautiful young woman wearing...a marshmallow (? While other women also wear AND eat marshmallows, because women must be consumable) following until he's confronted by a trio of masked scary people.
This must be the Terry Richardson guy!
He's Malleck (Ian Unterman) and his disappearance has been noted by Austen Media, Kitty tells her assistant to keep looking. He might be stuck with some...baby models? "Nothing proven in court!"
Julia asks about the rumoured boycott of Malleck; Kitty writes it off as "he said, she said", you know, "the lines get blurry with Creatives." *coughJeffreyTamborcough* And she's gone.
Julia checks in with Eladio (Ricardo Dávila) about what's going on, she's a little freaked out about the NYPD detective Dominic (Adam Rothenberg) snooping around.
Leeta is sitting on Plum's step when she gets home, she wants her to meet someone! Verena Baptist! Leeta is super bubbly but laser focused on Plum: why is she taking the anti-depressant? Never mind that, Plum's been summoned to see Kitty again and she's freaking out about the email addresses she sent them.
Leeta has been following Plum for awhile, she's worried because Plum still does everything the Baptist plan said to do! She wants to know Plum, she wants Plum to know her too!
Some fast and bubbly words later, Leeta is gone in a whirl of black hair and big headphones and Plum is trudging to meet Kitty.
I miss Leeta's bright lifesaver-coloured tights from the book.
Kitty couldn't stop thinking about Plum! Did she know Missoni is doing a plus size capsule collection? She did not! So much plus size fashion because women are getting bigger!
That's not how that wor
Kitty is off on another tangent, she's been rigidly maintaining her figure until peri-menopause hit, then several hilariously bad ideas later, she's talking to herself. She will not be left behind.
Someone said once (Moira Donegal?) that there are two types of feminism at the forefront these days: those that consider themselves feminists because they've achieved success while female in the system currently in place: i.e.: look as young and pretty and sexually available as long as possible and leverage that, while concealing but using their brains. The other group wants to burn it all down and replace it. Which do you think Kitty falls into? You know she thinks she's a feminist, like if Beyoncé's watching.
Kitty is sending Plum to cover the plus size fashion show! Or, well, to watch it on Facebook Live, Kitty will send a "regular girl" to the actual show, Plum is her "hidden resource."
Dominic stops her in the lobby, calling out "chocolate cake", he can't stop thinking about it! She takes him to the cafe where she works and feeds him carrot cake. He can't believe how good it is! It's sublime. Steven butts in, he likes seeing her with a guy.
I'd like it a whole lot more if he didn't say "if I could have this any time I wanted, I'd be as big as a house."
At least he feels bad about saying it, kinda.
They chat but I can't figure out if they're flirting or not. He keeps using unfortunate language! Saying the case isn't "sexy" and that she should keep an eye out for something or someone "interesting", unlike her?
That's enough to push Plum into action, she goes to meet Verena Baptist.
Verena's pad...is not at all what I expected. There's light jazz and dudes everywhere.
I will choose to focus on the positive.
Willowy Sana (Ami Sheth) with the scarred face brings Plum into the kitchen where everyone is mingling (with dudes). We've got Barbara (Mya Taylor) who needs a BEAST in bed, Rubi (Jen Ponton), Clive (Dariush Kashani) and Jake (Mark Tallman) who says it's okay that Malleck abused a model because she is a porn star.
They talk about porn star Stella Cross until Verena walks in.
Side note(s): I assumed Stella Cross was a combination of Sasha Grey and Jenna Jameson; 2) if I was going to date women, I would beeline for someone with the smoky voice and manner of Robin Weigert. Or a Susan Calman, but anyway, where were we?
Verena's so happy to meet Plum! She enjoyed her subversive bent in the letters. This is Calliope House! Verena's goal is to support women to find their purpose, with big, bold ideas from women who have been discounted, marginalized, and many more words but it doesn't matter because Plum isn't listening.
Eulayla Baptist's (Kathy Voytko) fat jeans are right behind Verena!
Verena tells us the story of her beauty pageant mama, winning award after award for being pretty and perfect. Verena's daddy Allen (Derek Roché) wouldn't let Eulayla get her stomach stapled after her post-partum weight gain, instead he padlocked the fridge and hired someone to cook for her. Eulayla ate only what was given to her, not leaving the house to avoid temptation. Nobody saw her for a year and then she emerged as a symbol of hope to people like Plum.
It was all a lie.
After the Baptist Plan was launched, Eulayla got fat again, and now that there was money at stake...she got the surgery. There were complications, however, Eulayla lived the rest of her life in a diaper. Not, unfortunately, for much longer, as the appetite suppressants and vodka led to a lot of fighting and eventually a possibly-preventable car accident where both parents were killed.
They knew the Plan didn't work, but they kept selling it anyway.
Plum, who was furious when the Plan and promised hope was taken away, can't believe they can lie like that: what about false claims? They just have to say "results not typical" and that's all the legal coverage they require. Then the clinic tells YOU you didn't do enough and sells you another plan.
Plum's mind is blown. She can't take it all in.
They sit down, Verena leaning foward to eat a piece of chocolate. She clearly enjoys it (it was almost carnal), asking Plum if she wants one. Plum says no and literally.sits.on.her.hands. Verena asks if Plum remembers the first time she ate chocolate and she doesn't, but she remembers what it felt like to eat something amazing before it became a reminder of her size.
Plum talks about her experience with boys, which is very limited. The chubby kid who wouldn't kiss her in Kindergarten because she was a pig. (SAYS THE CHUBBY BOY). The guy in college who would make out with her while drunk then deny it while sober. She keeps saying it's fine, smiling while she's clearly in pain and not wanting to talk about herself at ALL. She keeps saying "it's fine!"
Watching Joy Nash as Plum deliver all the pain and wistfulness but overall: shame, it's just heartbreaking.
Verena asks about her level of desire, which is non-existent. That could be a side effect of the anti-depressant, which Plum started after the incident with the jerkhole in college.
If they're going to be working together...what, hold up, who said anything about working together? Verena offers Plum the New Baptist Plan: all she has to do is work with her and investigate a bunch of things and if she still wants the surgery after, Verena will write her a cheque for $20,000, no strings attached. She just wants Plum to make her decisions with an open mind; Plum has to think about it.
Verena is trying to make up for the damage her parents did.
Cheryl Crane-Murphy (Rowena King) and Kitty work out, talking about the hack, the murders and the disappearance of Malleck. It's jarring to see how thin these women are, after seeing people of regular and extra-sized. Cheryl is a Jennifer fan, so she's all right in my books!
Julia is furious with Leeta for sending Plum to Verena, she demands blind obedience or GTFO.
Just like the army! Or religion!
Hmmm, Dominic is following Plum as she ponders becoming a "cheese eating happy fatty" like at Calliope House, looks like he thinks she's interesting after all!
Plum's mom calls, photographers irritate her and she waves them away. When Plum was little, she thought they were taking pictures of her because of how she looked, but this was the house of a famous actress. That's why she was hiding inside all the time.
Malleck and several other men are rounded up, ziptied, hooded and rounded up into a van as we're oot.
Once again: great episode, Joy Nash is a dream to watch in this complex role. I loved Julia the best in the book and she's still the one with the juice for me here, all the best lines. Kitty is still reading a little Cruella, but I'm sure that will even out.
Now about the DUDES. WHAT are two guys doing at Calliope House?? That is a haven for women to find their purpose, not listen to some ahole blow off abuse because of someone's day job. Argh! Until next time, which shouldn't even be a long time, AMC is streaming the third episode already! Wheee! Cheers!