Hi everyone and welcome back to my new favourite show (sorry RPDR!) Dietland where the women are fab and aplenty. A warning, I've had 6 hours sleep in the last two days and am subsisting solely on Diet P*p*i (don't drink your calories!), Smartpop (100) and Twizzlers (120 fat-free) so I definitely talked too much. Rolling after the break!
The first and second episodes introduced us to our heroine, Plum Kettle (Joy Nash) and showed us around her joy-starved life. She worked and lived in a four/five block radius, clothed entirely in black, buying colourful dresses for the thin woman hiding inside. The thin woman is Alicia and she's due to arrive just after Plum's weight loss surgery, scheduled for the near future.
First, she's gotta figure out a way to pay for it, as Plum makes next to no money working at Austen Media (think Vogue if Vogue had ever heard of English literature) for Kitty Montgomery (Julianna Margulies), your basic waxed Dracula/Cruella DeVil nightmare who has all the best lines, but the worst intentions.
Things are looking up for our Plum, guess who she met? NO, GUESS??! She met the daughter of the architect of a super unhealthy diet plan, whom she idolized and lost as a young woman. This daughter Verena Baptist (Robin Wiegert) isn't a chip off the old block, rather she's about empowering women to find their purpose (I could so use such a Plan right now) and she's offered our Plum the money to pay for surgery if she follows the New Baptist Plan, no strings attached after.
SIDE BOOK NOTE: Do not read if you're not into pedantic "well, in the book..." because in the book, Plum had decent money and not a lot of concern about it, so I think it's interesting that they've chosen to give her financial life a case of the shorts, as well as adding in a dramatic love interest in the form of Dominic (Adam Rothenberg), a NYPD officer investigating a series of hacks on Austen Media. I'll only say this once, this one time, in close together words because I understand why giving Plum a love interest is par for the course: IlovedthatinDietlandthebook, Plumdidn'tworryaboutaloveinterestandwasSTILLhappywithherself. Eventually.
On we roll!
We open in a swanky restaurant with a wealthy matron asking her server why her salad dressing isn't "on the side" (which is totally on the Baptist 12 Commandment List, I don't even have to check) when a body crashes through her table; it's missing photographer Malleck Ferguson (Ian Unterman), a very thinly disguised Terry Richardson.
Plum didn't know yet that the group named JENNIFER was dropping men from the sky yet, she's busy meeting Verena Baptist to get the deets on her new life plan. First thing: Plum's gotta go off her anti-depressant and even more jarringly, isn't expected to restrict any food or thoughts.
You don't understand that if you haven't dieted for a significant period of time (hahahaha of course you have), but the one of the main ways dieting offers success is through you brainwashing YOURSELF. "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels" amirite? "A moment on the lips, forever on the hips!" Last time Plum was offered chocolate, which is as life-sustaining as sunshine, she literally sat.on.her.hands which can only happen after putting yourself regularly in behavioural timeouts.
Related, but only tangentially, so skip at will: have you noticed how many behavioural rules there are for women that, in addition to making us smaller, also make our impact less? Less noticeable, quieter? Noticeable is okay as long as it is one specific type of standout array, the rest is to be muted and save it for book club and wine nights, ladies! Every once in a while I realise I'm trying to suppress as much of my personality as possible to fit in and it makes me so sad, because that trash is everywhere. It's not like the world needs more beige.
ANYWAY, Plum's skeptical about this talk of being kind to oneself, it sounds like a "woo woo version of Waist Watchers". So about this anti-depressant...it has to be tapered off and yeah, Plum flushed the whole bottle last night. Verena is alarmed.
I don't know if they're talking about Prozac, but I have heard that it has to be stepped down very carefully because your body gets attached quickly.
Barbara (Mya Taylor) interrupts, she has to talk to Verena about this thing... while Plum judges from afar. She doesn't want to belong to the awesomeness that is Verena's Calliope House, its full of weird people and "cheese eating happy fatties." Probs totally not where Alicia would hang out in her new wardrobe. It's also tough to listen to thin and rich (white too) Verena, how could she understand what Plum is going through?
As though Verena can read her mind, she walks over with the cheque for $20,000.00 as proof of how serious she is. She asks that Plum keep an open mind and not cash it until Verena's had a chance to show her some things. It's even made out to Alicia, Plum's real name and thin alter-ego!
Plum watches some conventionally attractive women wearing unwieldy fashion choices take selfies on the street, then she's at the cafe with Steven (Tramell Tillman) who likes her better when she's with the hunky NYPD detective. He nudges Plum to call Dominic, but Plum demurs, she doesn't think there's a hope in hell.
We learn to manage our expectations when it comes to romantic interest, it goes hand in hand with young men following you down the street pretending to hit on you coz that's soooo groooosss and hilaaaarious. It doesn't mean we don't entertain romantic ideation about our preferred persons, we'd just die before we admit it publicly.
Plum's got an upcoming writing assignment, she's going to be covering a plus size fashion show! Not, like, at the show, Kitty's sending one of the glamazons for that, but rather Plum will be watching Live on Facebook. Almost exactly the same thing!
She's not watching the show, though, she's researching sudden anti-depressant withdrawal. It sounds as much fun as a bag of hammers dropping on your head, one at a time. Heart palpitations, "brain zaps", suicidal ideation, COME ON. WHAT THE SAM HILL IS A BRAIN ZAP?
The reason Plum's been short with cash is that insurance won't pay for the surgery up front any more, she has to pay and be reimbursed, like when a fat doctor told her she was too fat for surgery with her lard-laden 1200 calories a day. That was $170.00USD.
Steven is concerned about the withdrawal, he wants to stay with her while she kicks. She's the girl who never gets sick, though, which confuses all the doctors who think being fat is the root of every single malaise for every fat person ever. Just lose some weight and the eczema/knee problems/tinnitus will clear right up! And of course, if you don't lose some weight (just eat less and move more! Genetics, disability, socioeconomics etc be danged!), then you don't care about your health, so why should they?
She thinks this will be a withdrawlcation! I need to brace myself, this is gonna be ugly. She gives her mom the heads up, then ooohhh calls Dominic, who's glad to hear her voice. She was planning to leave a flirty message, but gets the man himself who asks her about "Leeta", whom she calls the weird girl who works in the Beauty Closet.
Dominic warns her not to be a hero, Malleck who died above in spectacular fashion, was part of the Austen Media family after all.
**that seems like a lot of weirdly placed commas*
Kitty and assistant Eladio (Ricardo Dàvila) watch Chery Crane-Murphy (Rowena King) read the news about Malleck on UNN, his body was dropped out of a plane. Kitty is worried, Austen Media stood behind Malleck through "the first few rape allegations" and the media boycott, paying for his legal fees and PR firm to refute the "first few rape allegations." That information is almost certainly in the hacked emails. Of course Austen supported him, Malleck was family! What if Stanley and his family was targeted? What if Kitty is next?? Or Cheryl! Um, yeah, or that.
Plum gets home to her first brain zap, it looks vomity and sweaty. Can not recommend. Still, she settles in to watch the fashion show on Facebook, some cute clothes!
Across town, another body is dropped from the sky, this time at a football tailgater.
There were two men dropped that day, two French soccer players. Ben (Will Seefried) doesn't want to watch the news anymore, but we're not done yet. 4 more men were dropped across the area, there are 5 in total. Will would rather listen to Plum sing while baking, her voice is like listening to angels humming!
Steven texts Plum, then pops over to her apartment with soup where she is in a sweaty robe feeling her brain zap and bringing forth zombie visions. She started answering Dear Kitty letters in an entirely inappropriate fashion but the nature documentaries are the best!
A tiger jumps off the screen and into her kitchen, scrounging for food in the fridge, which is disappointingly full of tiny containers of baby carrots and chopped celery. He's an animal: he needs meat! He tells us of the women of Mauritania, men love big women there! She counters: those women and girls are forcefed through leblouh (couldn't read too much on that, sorry) still to attain a shape decided by society and not predicated on what the actual person involved wanted or how she felt.
I think the tiger stuffie wants to hump Plum.
Instead, she orders $147.00USD of food for the stuffie and he takes over her work while she rests. By that I mean he deletes all the Dear Kitty letters.
Plum sweats and asks Tigey what's so great about feelings? She doesn't want to feel anything until she's Alicia, because she's sure Alicia will know how to handle every.thing. What's great about feelings? It's about focus and presence and
And then I think Plum humps the stuffie. She wakes up with her hand in her pants.
Some of those feelings are awesome!
Kitty and Dominic have a meeting at Austen, it was she who sent him after Plum and they know she does know Leeta (Erin Darke) so there! Kitty knows about girls like Plum and her recent "political" answers to the Dear Kitty letters.
Dominic doesn't think the email hacks and the men falling from the sky are the same, one is a mild annoyance but the other is extremists targeting men. Also interesting is that Dominic is not NYPD any more, but rather working directly for Kitty.
What about when Jennifer Lawrence's nude pics were hacked? That was both, but with women! That counts, right?
Plum gets out of the shower to find...completely red cheek/chin areas. Outside her door is buckets and buckets of takeout food, what's with her skin?
She reminds herself to be brave like Tigey as people avoid her on the street and yet another body falls from the sky behind her. She doesn't notice, she's breathing like a tiger.
She rushes to see Julia in the Beauty Closet, somehow in between babbling about the fashion show her skin clears up. It looks totally normal all of a sudden. Julia understand about the anti-depressant suddenly and how quickly Plum went off it.
She diagnoses Calliope House then rubs lavender oil on Plum's temples and sends her home. Julia has to get to the Daisy-Chain party for Fashion Week!
Kitty is coming to the party with Abra Austen (Kelly Hu), they decide they couldn't let the terrorists win by cancelling the party, could they? They do have surprisingly similar ideas about men, who can age or look however they want, as long as they have money. And if they do fail, they fail up (all the way to the White House some times, even). Neither Kitty or Abra will allow themselves to age, then they become invisible and while I understand that some people feel this way, I don't get it. These women are grimly locked into a death march against time and I don't know how to tell you, ladies. Time always wins.
The party is cancelled, the NYPD have shut everything down, because "there are bodies falling out of the sky" (LADY), says an officer (Armando Acevedo). Abra runs off in Kitty's car, but Julia saves the day and whisks Kitty off to a bar.
Poor Abra, being one of the idle rich is worse even than abject poverty, so sayeth Kitty. Abra graduated summa cum laude, but instead chose Stanley and 'his rules'. You know, not work, run the home and suck all the d*ck.
As a former housewife, I am starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
Stanley was involved with porn star Stella Cross, too, except she didn't have a home to run. Her duties were more defined.
Kitty swings the talk around to Leeta, Julia fired her because she encourages eccentricity but cannot handle chaos. Julia stops the chat when she sees a man secretly filming them, Kitty is furious. She was caught eating! "Optics"
I didn't see any food, though, just drinks?
Plum struggles through another plus fashion show, drifting into a daydream where she's fabulous and Dominic can't get enough of it. She walks a runway in her living room, Malleck is there taking her picture.
She wakes to real Dominic tending to her, she can't get over how soft her skin is! She wants Dom to touch her soft and sensuous skin, there's so much of it! Doesn't he just want to get lost in it, forever!
She has her belly out.
Dominic seems like an ally, but he betrays her trust as she sleeps, copying her hard drive.
Now we meet Marlowe Buchanan (Alanna Uback), activist and earth mother. One sec
Side note: in the book, Marlowe's backstory is that of Keri Russel's, if Keri Russel gained a hundred pounds and kept her hair short. I feel betrayed by this casting of a thin white woman with shoulder-length hair, but I will try not to be petty about appearances. TRYING
Marlowe has a baby in her lap, Verena never wanted children, but is concerned about her latest offspring. Plum is so smart, but she could go in any direction.
Earlier we heard about a missing website owner, Hal Jizz (Biko Eisen-Martin) of VietCooch and other gross-sounding websites fame. In the book he was a very thinly veiled Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame, but here it looks as though he's running revenge porn sites. I am good either way.
We see him reciting a speech on camera with a bloody face, admitting to filming Vietnamese women without their knowledge and permission. His name is Hal Jizz and he deserves to die.
Next on camera are the two French soccer players, they lied under oath about the underage prostitute they both visited. Another man admits that he would have fired the woman who worked for him if she didn't have sex with him and then Malleck is onscreen. He drugged and sexually assaulted 31 women and girls, some as young as 14. He hired lawyers to intimidate and harass his victims and spread rumours about them and he too deserves to die.
These tapes have been released to the public, they are part of the Dirty Dozen killed by JENNIFER. They planned the publication of the tapes and the dropping of the bodies during Fashion Week because "the fashion industry dehumanizes women and fosters rape culture."
"The question is no longer "who" is Jennifer" but "WHAT" is Jennifer?"
Plum is in a bodega at the till when a man starts talking to the woman behind her. Apparently, not only does he like the way she looks, he thinks she dressed that way for him, a stranger! A tall woman (Adaku Ononogbo) intercedes, then another woman and another. He is intimidated enough to leave, but not before getting a shot at Plum, she's not hot enough for his completely unwanted attention.
I love this group that came to that woman's aid!
Kitty can't believe Cheryl ran the story on UNN before telling her, she threatens to tell Stanley unless Cheryl gives up her source.
Cheryl doesn't want to do that, obviously, countering that nobody is going to remember anyway after the next cute video or viral tweet. Kitty thinks JENNIFER is different; she doesn't think they'll stop until women are freed from oppression.
Dominic's kiddos are glad he's not a cop any more, his daughter is worried about all the dudes plummeting to earth. They saw the videos of the men confessing and are scared but. Dominic is married. To Marissa (Christina Bennett Lind), who likes to work double shifts because they make her horny (said nobody ever.)
While frisking him lovingly, she finds his wedding ring hidden on a chain around his neck: what's going on? He has a new informant, I gather Plum isn't the first because Marissa knows it's a woman.
Steven's brought Plum's mom (Debra Monk) to her apartment, it was the phone calls! Ah shit, Plum runs for her phone, she called secretly married Dominic 9 times! 9!! AND submitted her writing to Kitty and Eladio while out of her tree!
Steven and Plum's mom hit her with everything right out of the gate: they think she should be happy as she is and that surgery is dangerous. Plum finally, FINALLY loses it.
They don't understand, not at all! Plum wants to fly without apology, she wants to get hit on, she wants to be NORMAL. Nobody who hasn't been that size doesn't really understand.
She got all her feeling back, and she didn't like it. It's not so much that she hates herself, although she does, almost by prescription, but rather that the whole world hates her.
To walk around in a fat body is like carrying the plague. If this is it, if this is her body, she'd rather be dead.
Wow. That was a tough episode, who saw themselves in that last scene with Plum? Probably a lot of us, I know I did. That's what keeps us dieting and counting calories and exercising while hurt and hurting ourselves more and STILL not losing weight even though we know diets don't work, we know that but the alternative is this. No hope at all. Because we'd rather be dead than not trying to attain that ideal that tells us we're human, we're worthy and deserving of love. Because the whole world tells us we're not if we're fat.
I find it difficult to watch Dietland, but in a good way. It brings up all the pain from the past, but reminds me how there is life after dieting, after constant self-loathing. Do you know I once had an acquaintance tell me she would rather be dead than look like me? To my face she said that, and she seemed mostly upset for ME that I would drive her to say such a thing by existing. She was not a good person, OBVS.
ANOTHER THING: you notice that none of the things Plum mentioned wanting involved yet another plus size fashion collection, right? I read a great article a while back about how the fat activist movement is now fully commercialized and pulled far away from its roots. What about airline seats that fit everyone, or allowances made for those that don't fit into them that does not involve being charged for two seats. Because it shouldn't cost twice as much for one person to fly as it does for another. Still one person! But it's society that's allowed airline companies to frame that as a fat problem, not a "they're not providing reasonable access" problem. Awesome plus size clothing used to be impossible to find, now we have it, yay! We don't need another fatkini, society, we need to be treated like people, actual people, and not told our problems are that we don't love ourselves enough. I wish I could find that article, but Andi Zeisler's book on the commercialization of feminism "We Were Feminists Once" tells the same kind of tale: recommended!
To the show! I know I ranted and raved about them giving Plum a love interest, yes because it deviated from the book, but also because it's fraught and frankly, there's enough going on already. But still, I felt deflated when I saw Dominic betray Plum's trust not once, but twice, once with the computer and the second not telling her he was married.
Sorry, the episode title is Y Not because that's what they keep calling the anti-depressant Plum is on. I don't know exactly what they're referring to, but that's what the title means anyway!
Until next time, my fellow Plumpers, all the best! Cheers.