I am so excited that my very favourite actress Sarah Lancashire is back on my screen, this time for American audiences! Okay, all the audiences, the whole world is watching this main stage and I'm very happy to be here. Let's roll into my recap of Julia S1:E01 Omelette after the break so y'all can listen to me carry on and on about how absolutely fantastic Sarah Lancashire is in everything she does.
Okay a couple of notes first: I have been recapping Sarah Lancashire shows since February 2016, which makes me a Jenny-come-lately to the fandom, but I'm just happy to be here. Way back in the day, I watched a little show called Happy Valley with Sarah and liked it so much that I thought I would recap the second series for this brand new website I had started... The awesomesauce Dixie from the huge Sarah Lancashire Facebook page saw my second recap and that was it! I found a group of fellow lovers of SLancs work and it has led me to countless new shows and actors. I wouldn't have known of Suranne Jones if not for Sally Wainwright, writer of Happy Valley and Gentleman Jack, Suranne led the way to Jodie Comer and how about Nicola Walker? Her body of work ranges from the absurdly sublime (River) to the sublime sublime (Annika) and anyway! What I'm trying to say is that without Sarah Lancashire, there would most likely not be a GingesBeCray and I am so happy there is.
Second note! I'll start putting ** in front of paragraphs with this sort of carrying on so you'll know what to skip.
**When I was six, I cooked my way through a French cookbook and I'm preeeettty sure it was a Julia Child cookbook. Mostly because I remember the Beef Bourguignon so well as I got to pick out the wine myself. Now that I am old and have had many six year olds in my kitchen, I have no idea how I did that and I give all the snaps to my mom for letting me even try.
Okay now we start!
**I also love that Julia Child came into her own late in life; as a late bloomer she is an inspiration.
We open in Oslo, Norway (looking for Annika!) in 1961 with Julia Child (Sarah Lancashire!!) cooking a beautiful fish for a large dinner party; her husband Paul Child (David Hyde Pierce) comes to roust her from the kitchen so everyone can celebrate her properly.
*Julia Child is quite saucy; she'd rather eat her husband than the fish but I'll take the fish if anyone is asking?
Julia is gently encouraged into sharing a letter she's received; Knopf would like to make her cookbook the standard for French cooking in America.
The hubub dies down then swells when the phone rings; Paul Child is being summoned back to DC. Somehow this means 'Back to Paris!"
Geography is not my strong suit but I've rarely confused Pars and Washington so I don't know?
A year later in Cambridge, MA, I'm EXTRA confused but Julia is cooking so I'm just going to pay attention to that. She has an entire wall of copper-bottom-ed pans hanging, remember when that meant a pot had superior conductivity and wasn't just the coloured crap they sell these days?
Omigod there are so many pans!! Walls and walls of them!
Sorry, sorry, Julia and her husband are talking about what she'll discuss on television promoting Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, she decides on an anecdote where she cried after tasting her husband's Sole Meunier. He didn't know what was wrong, but to her it was like he took her virginity twice; 'once by f*cking me and once by feeding me."
I'm very North American, I flinched horribly but again: she's so saucy and I love it!
He's sad that something so important to them; to the development of their relationship will be the pearls cast before the dross of American television of the 1960s.
Julia packs up one of those lovely copper-bottom-ed omelette pans and some other things and heads to the studio for filming where she meets a lovely receptionist and associate producer Alice Naman (Brittany Bradford). Alice is the person who suggested Julia be on the show, it must be noted that she is not only a woman, but also a Black woman, in the 60s.
Julia asks Alice for a hot plate; Alice secures one from an arsehole who condescendingly allows her its use even though it's for something as silly as 'peddling cookbooks.'
Albert Duhamel (Jefferson Mays) is the host of 'I've Been Reading'; he wastes no time in mocking her book, which could more honestly be called 'What My Wife's Been Reading' and I already want to punch most of the men we've met somewhere uncomfortable.
Julia takes over immediately and decides to cook a classic French omelette while Albert scrambles to keep up. 'Nothing to it but to do it.'
She is a force of nature, our Julia, taking over the set, crawling around on hands and knees and eventually handing Albert his second breakfast. He is polite on camera, but rude off, calling it 'utterly silly' but never relinquishing the omelette...
Avis DeVoto (Bebe Neuwirth) watches in delight, calling her boys to watch 'Aunt Julia' on TV; Avis joins the Childs later at a celebratory dinner.
Oh no. Paul swore he wouldn't miss the program but he did and he's lying about it and we know and Julia knows and even Avis knows because she WAS watching. Do they have a bad marriage? Did they?
I am sad for Julia Child.
He missed her show.
I hope that doesn't characterize their relationship but Julia's face, full of pain and muted loss...
Avis wastes no time ripping Paul to shreds so it's Julia consoling Paul later in bed.
She's making HIM feel better because he feels GUILTY for not supporting her; instead he was enjoying a 'burst of creativity in the studio'. And then he lied.
They don't have a TV, he won't ever buy one, he's not jumping on the bandwagon on some fad or trend.
Julia can't sleep. Then she can't breathe. She sees a doctor; who is professionally bored and tells her she's going through menopause.
After he makes that flat pronouncement, he casually brings up that his wife loves her cookbook so she has to pretend it isn't extra mortifying and that we aren't all tearing up from the flood of all the emotions that flit across Julia's face.
She calls Paul in tears but doesn't tell him about her appointment. I don't know if men know what that means, but they may so I won't assume. It means it's the end of the possibility of bearing children biologically and many other things as well, but when we see Julia staring longingly at a baby carriage, we know that's what's hurting the most right now.
The mother of said baby is Dorothy Zingberg (Lindsey Broad) who saw Julia on TV and even cooked her husband an omelette the next day! Julia is transformed; standing her full height and glowing, even offering a compliment to the baby.
Julia writes producer Alice Naman; pitching an educational cooking show starring herself. Alice brings it to the arsehole TV exec Russ Morash (Fran Kranz) who bats it around with a bunch of other jerks who are only brought up short at the news that 27 people have written letters about Julia's appearance on I've Been Reading.
Of course they bring up Julia's height, her unconventionally attractive appearance and 'distinctive' voice. Arseholes.
I don't know who Simone 'Simca' Beck (Isabella Rossellini) is when she's at home, but she's collaborating with Julia on the cookbook follow-up to Mastering The Art of French Cooking and her recipes are not precise enough.
If Julia Child was anything, she was a food scientist, someone with the desire to know WHY and how. There's a reason her recipes are everywhere in the world to this day.
Simca calls Julia not an intuitive cook; it's like 'making love to a German.' I don't even know what that means but I am highly offended.
Alice calls just then, she'd like Julia to come in for a chat? Julia is more than happy to do so and indeed brings a cake because she and I perhaps share a trait or two.
It's so difficult to watch Alice deliver the bad news about the TV show Julia pitched; Julia first sad then with chin up and resilient, eyes full of unshed tears that will disappear once she's collected herself. She thanks Alice genuinely with warmth; asking Alice where the gentlemen are that rejected her proposal.
She makes her pitch with the Queen of Sheba cake staring everyone dead in the eyes. She'll pay for the first episode, equipment and all, and if it gets traction, they'll take over. She'll even give their wives the recipe for the cake. When one moron protests he's not married, she offers the recipe to him which is audacious because men cooking for themselves is exactly what leads to chaos and dogs and cats living together.
So, um about that, she's shared exactly none of this with her husband Paul. It hurts watching her lay it out for him in a completely disingenuous way; how can you love someone you can't be honest with? He is honest with her, he thinks it's a bad idea and tells her so.
Can there have been this much loss and sadness in Julia Child's life?
Julia explains the pickle she's in to Avis; she is drawn to being on TV, it feels as though she came into focus on screen. Avis suggests getting someone Paul 'really respects' to help Paul make the right decision.
He doesn't 'really respect' his wife?
Julia meets with Judith Jones (Fionna Gascott) the editor from Knopf; she doesn't want to feel invisible at this stage of her life. She wants to be relevant and amen, sister. Judith will help with Paul.
So it is Judith who pitches the show to Paul once again with Julia insisting her refusal; theatre for those with less power in a relationship. I know it's a trope, I hope it's not actually what people had to do to express their wishes, although I understand it makes for charming TV.
Judith sells the TV show as an advancement of cultural diplomacy, Paul buys it as a 'beacon shining a light into the darkness of the American kitchen.'
I hate this scene however much it's meant to be funny. It's slapstick and cheap and I will get over myself, trust.
Paul finds Julia later, admiring his painting in the dark. She thinks it's his masterpiece; her praise sends him into a riot of arousal, leading her to the bedroom for an appropriately awkward and endearing middle-aged sex scene.
Do you think Paul, recently retired against his will, was unconsciously undermining Julia because of how he felt about himself? Like the partner who sabotages their partner's weight loss efforts with bags of chips and chocolate bars strewn fetchingly across a residence? Perhaps a 'WE're done, not just ME?'
I can't hate Paul, he's a product of his time and they actually appear to have a lovely relationship filled with banter and shared feeling. I guess it's just that 'product of their time' seems to be a synonym for complete asshole and I feel for people who had to swallow all of that on a daily basis.
Julia takes the royalty cheque from her cookbook and buys her very own television, where she imagines her face on screen after screen. So I guess we don't need YOU to buy one, Paul.
And we're out!
Sarah Lancashire is a dream at inhabiting a character fully; watching her hang her head in ecstasy over the sheer delight of drawn butter and lobster suspends the moment in time. I absolutely love that we fully understand that Julia Child was a menopausal child-free woman of a certain age who revolutionized how we cook and think of food to this day. We can do anything!
PS: HBO, thank you for all the closeups of the food!