If all of the #MeToo rage in New York City was bottled up, severely exaggerated and then magnified, you’d get feminist revenge fantasy “Dietland.”
The new AMC series’ storyline “really keeps the characters in a world where there had been a (#MeToo) moment, but the moment was in the past,” says Marti Noxon, the series’ executive producer. “Our danger is in it being a moment, not being something that really continues.”
The show follows New York fashion magazine ghostwriter Plum Kettle (Joy Nash) and her narcissistic editor Kitty Montgomery (Julianna Margulies) who get wrapped up in the violent group “Jennifer,” out to terrorize men accused of sexual abuse. It’s all very “Devil Wears Prada” meets “Barry” meets “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
The 10-episode series, filmed in Manhattan, is incredibly timely given the Time’s Up movement, but the foundation for the dark comedy’s script was in place long before the fall of disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. Its focus on fad diets, ageism and sexism appear as supporting factors to the “revolution,” which culminates in a citywide hit on accused sexual predators.
“The revolution is tossing off body tyranny or tyranny in general,” says Nash. “‘Jennifer’ is focused more on the sexual assault angle and (the body image and assault issues) seem unrelated, but they are related.”
“Having self-esteem is one thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is oppression. We want people to feel empowered, but we also want the world to change,” she adds.
“Dietland” — a play on the media industry’s unrealistic physical expectations — is a television adaptation of a Sarai Walker novel by the same name, published in 2015. Its leading character Plum struggles with her weight and feels like an outsider in the fashion world that only accepts her as an invisible contributor behind the signature of the chic Kitty.
“All these different themes that are swimming around in the book and now in the show, ultimately they’re asking, why do we accept a certain level of unhappiness in ourselves as true until a certain thing happens — until I’m a size two, or get a new job,” ponders Noxon. “And in the same sense, why don’t we question the status quo of the world?”
The women in the series are done speaking up; they’re revolting.
The masked group of hit-women, “Jennifer,” choose to force attention on misconduct by torturing men and dropping their dead bodies from the sky — a literal blow to the industry’s foundation.
“This is satire. None of us condone killing people and dropping them out of airplanes in body bags … but as I’ve been talking about it I realize women are fed up,” Marguiles, of “The Good Wife,” says. “The #MeToo movement should be hand-in-hand with the fed-up movement. I feel like this is a revolution. It is brewing. We’re finally getting through the surface to let this explode.”
While Joy’s character provides a look into issues such as mental health and self-esteem, Marguiles’ Kitty allows the series to throw its own jabs at Hollywood misconduct and gender inequality — particularly through the use of witty one-liners.
“Even though she’s brought this magazine up to where it is, No. 1, she still has to walk into board meetings and it’s all white men over 60 telling her what she can and cannot do,” Margulies says of her character Kitty.
A line of Kitty’s that’s become Margulies’ personal favorite: “Men would rather destroy the world than let women rule it.”
The two-hour series premiere of “Dietland” airs Monday at 9 p.m. on AMC.