As summer approaches, many things come to mind: sand, sun, fun… sure, all of those things, but also a question — what are we going to watch? The ratings giants that stretched across fall and into spring have ended and left a programming gap in your evening plans. Which is why, friends, we all need Dietland.
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We get it. You need a bit of motivation to watch. After all, why should you tune in to Dietland when you could spend your spare summer time binge-watching back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Breaking Bad? Well, there are many reasons. We should know — we already watched the first three episodes of the new AMC series, and we’re officially hooked.
Here’s why you should add this show to your “must see this summer” list.
1. It’s not reductive
As the title suggests, the series spins around weight loss. At the center of that vortex is actor Joy Nash, who plays ghostwriter Plum Kettle, a woman who has been plagued by insecurity about her size since she was young.
However, Plum’s relationship with her body is complex, and the show itself offers a satirical look at the way the outside world views a woman’s worth relative to her size. It’s impossible not to see Plum in a way many shows about weight don’t portray their characters: dimensionally.
2. It’s not at all what you expect
Between the name and what we’ve already told you, you may think you have the show pegged. But here’s the deal: you don’t. Running in tandem with Plum’s storyline is a secondary storyline involving kidnapping, murder, conspiracy theories and a possible terrorist cell that goes by the name of “Jennifer.” Essentially, it hovers somewhere between scathing, smart social commentary and a telenovela (think Jane the Virgin).
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Or, in short, not at all what you’d expect. On the surface, Dietland is a show about a woman struggling with her identity because of her weight. It doesn’t take long, though, for the series to flex its range and dive deep into subversive subject matter, sometimes in the most delightfully outrageous ways.
3. It’s extremely timely
That “terrorist cell”? It’s run by feminists. Its victims? Men who’ve committed sexual assault. Misogynists. Rapists. Like the 2015 Sarai Walker novel of the same name, it’s not some surface-level chick lit. It’s not always an easy “read.” It tackles extremely salient topics women are struggling with — self-image, yes, but also the polarizing yet necessary discussions about body and agency taking place in the post-Weinstein-era.
To be clear, the anger and violence the show tackles are satirical, although that doesn’t mean it’s hyperbolic. The anger is real. But no one is advocating for vigilante justice in real life (you can’t really root for Jennifer’s savagery). Here, it serves an important point: to further a dialogue.
4. The women!
In that vein, let’s talk about the show’s true glory: the female characters and the incredible women playing those characters. There’s Julianna Margulies, who brilliantly brings to life Kitty Montgomery, of the acerbic and oblivious teen site/mag Daisy Chain. Of course, there’s Nash, who imbues Plum with so much humanity. In some way, she is all of us.
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Adding another dimension to the series is Tamara Tunie, who plays beauty editor Julia (who may or may not be channeling Southern TV icon Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women). You’ll recognize her from crime procedurals like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Blue Bloods, making this role a fun departure.
The list goes on. Dietland is filled with smart, sharp, nuanced women, and it’s wonderful.
5. It makes you feel… well, everything
Uncomfortable. Angry. Happy. Sad. Relieved. Curious. Dietland explores the gamut of your emotions, and it manages to do so in a way that doesn’t give you whiplash. This is a series that is unapologetically and unflinchingly honest. It’s brave. Bonus? It’ll make you laugh when you least expect it. Dietland is dark; there’s no doubt about that. But it can be funny as hell, too.
Dietland premieres Monday at 9/8c on AMC.
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