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AMC's 'Dietland': New Revenge Fantasy Takes on Violence Against Women in All its Forms

June 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Melanie McFarland, Salon

The central mystery feels messy, but the real dramatic sustenance is in the cruelties its heroine visits on herself

Being a fat person in this culture tends to translate into being expected to treat one’s own body like a hostile entity to be brought under control, tamed. The morbidly obese person's flesh is a prison for some never-before seen thin person dying to get out, the permanent before holding us back from the happy after.

Plum Kettle, the heroine at the heart of AMC’s “Dietland,” lives her life in a holding pattern, convinced that if she can only get a dangerous gastric bypass procedure and drop immense amounts of weight, she’ll finally be ready to claim the big, sexy life that’s been waiting for her.

“Dietland,” premiering at 9 p.m. on Monday, is actually a series about violence. You might not notice that right away, given the focus on Plum, played with fatigued sensitivity by Joy Nash. That said, series creator Marti Noxon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “UnREAL“) sounds that alarm soon enough: Bodies begin dropping all over New York City, and the cops soon realize the common thread linking the victims is that each is an accused rapist or sexual abuser.

Until their fatal reckonings, rendered by a mysterious entity that goes by the name Jennifer, the system had allowed them to run free. As subplots go, this one obviously is meant to serve as a revenge fantasy tailored to fit #MeToo and the modern feminist movement.

But the greater violence tearing through “Dietland,” one women like Plum have been subjected to for decades, despite the mainstream messaging of body positivity, is a variety women inflict upon themselves and other women. She’s pummeled daily with messages about beauty standards as well as commercials selling butter-soaked, delicious fast food options she’s forbidden from eating.

Plum, however, has chosen a special hell for herself as the ghostwriter responsible for writing the “Dear Kitty” advice column in Daisy Chain magazine, where she answers letters sent by teenage readers seeking life advice. The real Kitty Montgomery (Julianna Margulies in full …read more


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