TV Recap: Dietland – The Steps To Bangability …

“F… This” (Episode 104)
June  18, 2018

Before you read on, make sure you’ve checked out our recap and review from last week’s episode here.

After a heavy introspective episode about Plum and her inner demons last week, tonight’s Dietland shifted its gaze outwards, turning its focus on both men’s perception of beauty as well as Jennifer and its growing influence as a movement. Lines are being drawn on whether Jennifer is a terrorist group or the acceptable expression of all women’s collective anger after a lifetime of shitty treatment by men.   In Plum’s life, she has to face the concepts of beauty vis a vis the idea of becoming bangable.

Few shows, if any, would attempt to even tackle these subjects. Even less shows would handle it with a modicum of the dignity and decency and nuance that Dietland pulls off on a regular basis.  If you are not watching this show, you’re doing it all wrong.

Read our recap and review … after the jump (Spoilers Ahead)!!

We open tonight’s Dietland with the daylight kidnapping of a young British boy while Plum narrates for us that said boy, Paul Gormley, is the son of a media mogul, Thomas Gormley, who has been killed by Jennifer.  Jennifer demands that the tabloids owned by Gormley’s company begin running nude photos of men instead of women as they have traditionally.  Once done, young Paul was released unharmed.

We fade into Kitty in her office watching the news of the global spread of Jennifer. She is fine until she hears Cheryl report that Jennifer has announced Austen Media is next on their hit list.  Eladio enters to tell her she needs to check her email…

At Plum’s apartment, Plum goes through her Dear Kitty’s emails (there are an increasing number of “pro-Jennifer” messages in the emails from “Kitty’s girls”) while she and her mom listen to the Jennifer news on the TV.  Mama Kettle has a firm “no murderer” policy but Plum is interested in whether the men being attacked were rapists sooooo … not an easy issue. We also learn from the news that there is a counter-vigilante movement to Jennifer attacking women named Jenifer that work at “progressive” jobs.

Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

In Plum’s room, we see her packing her “skinny me” red dress as she talks about Verena’s idea of a baptism into being a new you and then tells her mom that she’s doing the New Baptist Plan for the money not because she wants to join Jennifer. A text from Dominic gets her butt moving.

The Cafe.  We learn that Phase 2 of the New Baptist Plan will be led by former sitcom star, Marlowe Buchanan (Alanna Ubach), who we met last episode briefly. As Plum enters the cafe, Marlowe is doing a little skit thing which is a classic Plum fantasy piece.  The point of the whole thing is that Marlowe has reached an age where she is deemed “no longer bangable” and THIS is what we’re going to be focused on tonight.  Because Marlowe? She literally wrote the book on this subject, “Bangability Theory.”

Photo: AMC

To be clear, this is not going to be about literal banging or even what Plum wants … no, no no, this whole exercise is going to be about understanding what men want.  Oh, boy.  Read the book, Marlowe tells Plum; that is her homework. Also, these ladies will be spending the next two days together.  Kitty calls and we head to the title sequence.

When we come back from commercials, we’re with Dominic on the street handing off Plum’s drive to some cop buddy of his — he’s looking for a scrub down of everything on it.  There is some back and forth about Jennifer and shitty guys and it seems like Dominic is no longer an active cop because of some vigilantism actions he may have done while on the force.  Anyway, it seems like his reputation is giving bad guys an excuse to bounce outta jail. Whelp!

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Marlowe is taking Plum through the first step to the road to bangability – Waxing! The reasoning behind the exercise, Marlowe says, is to understand what the road to bangability takes and “takes from you.” Interesting. This is going to be a very “Mr. Miagi says, ‘wax the car'” kind of lesson plan I think … Anyway, in the room, Plum  is put through some unflattering poses while two Russian women chatter on about their lives and Plum assumes they are talking nastily about her. She narrates her thought of which is worse, “the insult or the injury?”

Joy Nash as Plum Kettle – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

** Joy Nash is a goddamn hero for filming these scenes — they look so uncomfortable and vulnerable and exposed.  I am willing to do some weird shit and this, this seemed particularly uncomfortable. Also, I don’t understand waxing – women should not pour wax on themselves; I don’t want anyone pouring hot wax on themselves and ripping out hair. **

Austen Media.  Jennifer has made a demand that their Manifesto go on the cover and Kitty Is.Not.Having.It! She lays out her (all male) board, calls them babies, and tells them that they can run it on their Men’s magazines but Daisy Chain will be running “30 Days to Sexy” and “Product for Every Problem” — end of discussion.

Pharmacy. Plum isn’t feeling well after her waxing and Marlowe makes the point that dudes want their women to have the “illusion of purity” … something very much along the lines of prepubescent. Which, Gross but also, probably true in too many cases. Double Gross.  Marlowe asks Plum why she’s ducking Kitty and Plum admits to having written the “plus size fashion show” article while coming off of the Y and fears it may be too … ethereal.  Probably a gracious word for it.  Enough of that though, Verena wants Plum back at Calliope House.

Calliope House. Verena admits that while she is the “curator” of the New Baptist Plan, she may not control all the details of how its administered — its a larger discussion.  Anyway, did you bring the “skinny me” dress?

Rubi! Love me some Rubi!! Plum is doing that thing where no one is talking so you begin to talk and say things you think the other person is already thinking … you know what I mean? Anyway, she posits that the whole bangable exercise is about proving that trying to get to “bangable” is like being a prison of its own and Rubi admits she’s in the ballpark but is really oversimplifying things.  Whatevs, Plum says. She is getting her surgery.  Totes cool, Rubi says, she is too tired to argue.  She only got an hour of sleep last night because they were under a bomb threat.

“Its a radical space for radical women. People feel threatened by that … real change can’t come from inside. You gotta create a whole new system. And that’s Calliope House.” – Rubi

Outside, Plum is trying to pump Marlowe for information on whether Jennifer and Calliope House are in cahoots and Marlowe doesn’t think so – Verena and Calliope House don’t condone bloodshed.  Marlowe warns Plum not to conflate feminism with violence – makes her sound very uninformed.  Back on the bangable track, Marlowe assures Plum that they only have two more appointments … today.  Commercials.

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

When we come back from commercials, Doctor Jerkface (Richard H. Blake), the dermatologist, is examining Plum for prime Botoxing spots. He tells her the injections will really balance at her face and Marlowe tells us that Botox is important for all, even young ones, because bangability is a goal for everyone! Doctor Jerkface assures Plum that:

“Pretty hurts.  Ugly hurts more.”  – Doctor Jerkface

Last Appointment for the day – the makeover.  Paul the Stylist (Darius de Haas) is very complimentary of Plum’s natural features, he’s pretty sure he can make her look bangable.  Marlowe is pleased that even the gay guy gets the point.  Paul is great until he says that their real work will be to do some contouring and make her face look slimmer. *sigh* You’ve let me down, Paul.  After he is all said and done, Plum is very made up and made over and gets over $1000 worth of upkeep cosmetics to keep it going. This is the cost of beauty … Marlowe, very pleased with herself and today’s work, sends Plum on her way for her 4pm meeting with Kitty.  “Go on hot stuff.”

Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC
Julianna Margulies as Kitty, Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Austen Media.  Kitty immediately rips into the obviously made over Plum – accuses her of “trying to get glam” while ducking Kitty’s calls.  Plum says she had a death in her family and Kitty moves on with a simple “that’s terrible.” Despite significant typos, Kitty is running with Plum’s article – she thinks there is a there there.  This is where Plum would like the conversation to end but Kitty is Kitty and so it doesn’t. Kitty goes on to say that she realizes she needs a “specialized angle” for some of her girls with weight problems and while she used to think giving fat girls disincentived them from getting healthy, she’s coming around on her position.  She thinks its nice to included everyone. *sigh* Plum tries to end the meeting then and there but Kitty still isn’t done.

Kitty asks how her girls are doing … what’s on their minds. Plum mentions a couple of upticks in ghosting but a down tick in things like cutting and bullemia. On the topic of Jennifer, she tells Kitty that the majority of the responses have been very “pro-Jennifer.”

“I guess they feel like they matter, somehow. Like even if they don’t fit in with their peers, they still matter anyway, you know?”

Kitty greets this with a thoughtful interesting but then dismisses Plum without a further word.  Good talk!

At Plum’s apartment, Mama Kettle is raving about Plum getting published and Plum is downplaying it — even if it runs, it’ll be in a box next to Kim Kardashian’s ass.  Alone, Plum takes some selfies with the chocolate cake she’s finished frosting to send to Dominic.  The faces she makes and the joy she expresses — Joy Nash is a fan-fucking-tastic actress and this scene alone make you fall in love with her. This picture .. is everything …

Photo: AMC

As Plum does her night time beauty routine, a face full of bruises is revealed when she takes off her make-up. Its disturbing.  Mama Kettle has my reaction.  She asks why she’s letting Verena abuse her but Plum is undeterred – Verena is making a point about beauty and being think – a point that Plum does not (yet?) agree with. Discussion over, Plum is going for a walk.

Out on the street, Leeta does her Leeta thing and surprises Plum. She’s come to say goodbye and for reasons unsaid, has to be semi-secretive. She won’t tell Plum where she is going or really, why but Plum puts enough together to think its related to Jennifer.   Leeta seems to have soured on Verena and that whole thing and tells Plum to come find her once Verena was done with her. They hug and Leeta drifts off into the night … Commercials.  Also, come back Leeta!!

When we return, Dominic is navigating the increasingly tense streets as Plum narrates for us that Jennifer’s tactics were making a difference – women were getting angrier and bolder while men were getting more scared.  In her office, Kitty is annoyed by the Jennifer coverage and takes her anger out on a talking head woman who remarks that she was able to go running at midnight …

“You should be spinning. Running is too hard on the face.” – Kitty

Always with the perspective, Kitty.

Alanna Ubach as Marlowe, Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Lessons with Marlowe.  As Plum struggles into that ultimate of female torture devices, Spanx, Marlowe reads aloud from her own book about how supermodels are paid so much more than educators because of their bangability factor.  Plum has really had enough at this point. But, they’re not done yet. Shoe Shopping! As Plum recovers from her toe torture, Marlowe increases the volume of her reading.  “Wanting to be thin, isn’t oppression, its primal” Plum snarls at Marlowe. Marlowe makes the point that they are not talking about landing a mate on the Savanah but rather being deemed bangable by society at large.  This call comes much to Plum’s embarrassment and a nearby mother’s horror and outrage  (she has her twelve year old daughter with her and is clutching her pearls at Marlowe’s words. For her part, the 12 year old is very amused).

“But its alright for your baby to wear make-up, and shorts tight enough where I can see her moose knuckle.” – Marlowe

Marlowe might be my newest Spirit Animal.  Also, she’s not wrong but Plum pulls her out of the dressing room with an, “Enough! Stop It!”

Calliope House.  Mama Kettle comes a knocking at Verena’s door. “What are you doing to my daughter,” she begins.  Verena remains utterly calm in the face of Mama Kettle’s spit fire accusations – its inconceivable to Mama Kettle that Verena might have been subjected to the same Baptist Plan torture that Plum voluntarily out herself through.  Verena goes on to tell Mama Kettle that her only go is to show Plum that her self worth isn’t tied to how she looks and how much she weighs … which is exactly what Mama Kettle wants too.  So, why are they arguing here? Let the bonding begin.

Austen Media.  Kitty enters the bathroom to find the vanity mirror has been plastered in pro-female, #metoo movement-style messages on colorful post-it notes. Its a powerful image.  This is the last nail in the coffin for the Kitty turnaround.

In a 180 degree turn, Kitty commands her art director put the Jennifer Manifesto on every Austen Media magazine cover and on their electronic media as well.  The director balks at the cost involved to change the covers on all of these magazines as they’ve been printed already.  Kitty says that Stanley sanctioned her and that should be enough to make this happen.

Joy Nash as Plum Kettle – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Another Doctor’s Office. Plum is in her underwear, being marked up for her weight loss surgery. She looks like a dress pattern doll gone horribly wrong. As powerful an image as the Post-It Notes scene was, this is equally disturbing.  But Plum, initially, only sees her future “Alicia” self staring back in the mirror; the fruition of all her dreams.  But, soon enough, the doctor’s monotone warnings about multiple surgeries and loose skin and permanent scarring make their way to her ears and the fantasy dies with these words …

“But at least you’ll be thin.”

“Oh my God,” is all she can muster as we head to commercials.

Alanna Ubach as Marlowe, Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

When we return, Marlowe is explaining that her phase of the Plan is over and its time to move on to the next step, dating. Marlowe prettied the package and now its time to present it, she explains.  All of Plum’s boiling anger spills over as she lashes out that she gets the point that she’ll never be “Angelina Jolie. I’ll never even be Alicia” but Marlowe interrupts her that she’s Alicia now.  No, Plum replies, she’s not and she hates her body and can’t live in it.  Plum hasn’t gotten the New Baptist Plan’s point yet, the same as Verena & Co. haven’t appreciated fully the walls to self love Plum has put in place — or they do understand but refuse to just give up.   Marlowe concludes, “you’re wearing the dress” (which Rubi presumably altered – hence the measurement taking earlier). Plum is all, “fuck you and screw the money” and leaves.

Calliope House.   Plum isn’t done lashing out yet. she enters Calliope House to find her mother still there, quite converted, and Plum loses her mind. She screams for Verena to stop manipulating her. Verena, with that utter calm that would drive me crazy, says she understands that Plum has been manipulated her whole life into this perfect beauty paradigm and Verena just wants to break her from it.

“Look at you, you’re so pretty. You have acolytes.” – Plum

Plum calls Verena out on it being easy when you’re thin and beautiful and Verena doesn’t deny it has advantages. But you shouldn’t punish yourself tog there and that’s Verena’s point – forget everyone else, Plum is punishing herself.  And it has to stop. Plum looks like she is about breakdown in tears as we cut away …

Austen Media.  Kitty enters office to find Jeff White (Brit Whittle), CFO of Austen Media, waiting for her. He comes bearing bad tidings – he stepped into the Manifesto fray and convinced the Board to only publish the Manifesto on the cover of Daisy Chain.  He cites the financial reasons but … you sense its more than that. Especially when he says that she’s doing it only to “feel relevant” and also, he calls her ‘Honey.” Fucking Gross – punch this motherfucker in the face, Kitty. Well, Kitty does the next best thing.  She blows up Jeff’s spot and threatening to tattle all of his infidelities and he sputters that he is not like “those men.” He says he’s not a predator. Whatevs, Kitty says, she just wants the expenditure approved.  Done and done. Kitty FTW – God, don’t make me root for her, show!

The Cafe. Dominic is finally getting a slice of Plum’s chocolate cake.  They have a playful rehash of the night of the “Y incident” but then Plum turns the subject to more serious matters. She asks Dominic if Calliope House and Jennifer could be connected and Dominic says, its possible. She tells Dominic she’s walking away but he asks her not to. She’s incredulous but Dominic makes the case that he might be able to really get to the bottom of this whole mess with her help. Also, think of the story she can write when its all over. MANIPULATION MUCH?!?  He tells her that he’ll be watching over her – its not real danger and besides …

“Haven’t you ever wanted to be a hero?!?” – Dominic the Manipulator

This.Fucking.Guy. Master Manipulator Right Here!! Commercials.

Julianna Margulies as Kitty, Campbell Scott as Stanley – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Austen House. Kitty has come a calling on Stanley .  Stanley, who is flying a drone in his study like he’s twelve. Ugh, already with this guy.  Moving past being hit with the drone, Kitty gets right to her pitch.  Jennifer. Jennifer is the movement; its the future. She calls it “Apple Stock in 1980.” The impression of Stanley here is that he is completely out of touch with current events and even what’s happening at Austen Media. He acquiesces without a fight and you can see Kitty has a mixed reaction of sadness and victory. She gets up to go and remarks on him, “you used to be a lion.” He looks genuinely thoughtful and responds that that may be true and wonders if that’s why they stopped fucking.

“I stopped screwing you long before you stopped fighting me.”

“Who remembers,” Stanley wonders, already over this conversation and turning his attention back to the drone. “I do,” Kitty responds quietly as she takes her leave.

Plum’s Apartment. They hug for Mama Kettle’s departure – Mama Kettle now feeling confident that Plum is in good hands with Calliope House. “Are they getting through to you,” Mama Kettle asks? Plum responds with a simple, “yeah.”  As soon as Mama K leaves, Plum narrates for us that in fact, nothing was getting through to her back then and we see her call the doctor’s office to place a deposit on the weight loss surgery. Whelp!

As the episode wraps up, Plum narrates that she didn’t want to be the hero, she wanted to be the hero’s girlfriend.  Wrapping up, the final scene is of women flocking to newsstands to buy Austen Media titles — all with Jennifer’s Manifesto on the covers proclaiming it is their revolution and that there will be blood.  Narrates takes us out as she says Kitty was wrong about Plum BUT, by lighting the fuse of the Jennifer Movement, Kitty was exactly right about them.

And Scene.




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