Dietland premiered in June and instantly hit a nerve. The show is a TV adaptation of a novel by Sarai Walker and it’s about a plus size woman coming to terms with her body and sparking a revolution in the way that people look at beauty, body positivity, and what it means to be plus size in American culture. Piggybacking on the Me Too movement and the general cultural focus on female anger and female empowerment that is sparking discussions about acceptance, Dietland gives plus size women the heroine they deserve in the fabulously flawed Plum Kettle.
Played by Joy Nash (who modeled for H&C back in the day!) the lead character Plum is at first a mousy plus size woman who tries her best to simply be invisible and not take up space in the world. She is a ghostwriter for the fabulously fashionable Kitty Montgomery, who is the editor of a popular teen girl magazine called Daisy Chain. She is trying to save up enough money to have weight loss surgery. Like many women she has bought into the myth that her life will be perfect once she can fit into the perfect little red dress and that all her problems will disappear along with the weight she wants to lose.
But over the course of the ten episodes that make up season 1 Plum transforms from a woman that is actively seeking to disappear into a woman that has finally found her voice and is using it to call out double standards and the societal constructs that keep women down. The journey is not an easy one though, and some of the experiences that Plum goes through and the epiphanies that she has are almost painful to watch because they are experiences that are so achingly familiar to any plus size woman in this society.
The show doesn’t shy away from hard topics either. It takes on the very current sexual attitudes of toxic masculinity and sexual assault. Plum eventually joins Jennifer, a radical group that is tied to the deaths of rampant sexual predators, and she struggles to figure out how to balance her feelings of righteousness and rage with justice and compassion.
Plum is fabulously flawed and watching her go through a maturation process similar to a second adolescence but one where she accepts and celebrates her body instead of being ashamed, is cathartic and painful at the same time. As of today, Dietland has not been renewed for a second season yet. However, the ratings were average for an AMC scripted show that isn’t The Walking Dead and there is a good chance that because the show is so culturally relevant at this time that AMC will renew it. Series creator Marti Noxon has a three season plan in mind for Dietland if AMC chooses to renew it. Noxon is known for being part of some heavy hitting female focused shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, and recently HBO’s dark but glorious serial Sharp Objects.
Unapologetic With Aisha Tyler
Dietland is exactly the smart and culturally on point show that plus size women need to boost their representation on TV and also to explore issues that only plus size women face. But what makes Dietland truly unique isn’t just the show, it’s the aftershow. AMC pioneered the art of the aftershow by giving The Walking Dead fans a chance to talk about the episode they just watched and issues related to it. It was so successful that now almost all AMC shows have their own aftershow, including Dietland.
Dietland’s aftershow is called Unapologetic and it’s hosted by Aisha Tyler. Unapologetic is the chance for Dietland fans to talk about the issues raised by Dietland and explore them in a modern and real cultural context. Some of Aisha’s guests have included series creator Marti Noxon and some of the cast as well as body positivity activists and feminists like Roxanne Gay, Tess Holliday, and Gloria Allred. Host Aisha Tyler leads in depth cultural conversations about the view of feminism in this culture and the experiences that women face every day as well as political and cultural topics. It’s a witty, smart, and no-holds-barred conversation that is relevant to all women, but especially to plus-sized women.
While waiting to find out if Dietland and Unapologetic will be back for season 2 you can stream the entire 10 episodes of season one of both shows over at AMC now. Check them out and join the conversation by telling us on social media what you thought of the shows and what topics you’d like to see them tackle that women and plus sized women deal with every day.