At first glance, AMC’s “Dietland” looks like yet another version of the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada,” in which would-be writer Andy (Anne Hathaway) struggles to impress editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep).
Joy Nash and Julianna Margulies star as Plum Kettle and Kitty Montgomery, the new show’s Andy and Miranda. Aside from the industry setting, however, that’s where the comparison stops as Marti Noxon’s “Dietland” is about far more than career women.
Like Sarai Walker’s 2015 novel “Dietland,” the show confronts the dangers of the beauty industry, notions of self-worth and retaliation against bad men for violence against women. It sounds like a weird mix on paper, and the TV adaptation does not stray too far from this weirdness. Yet it’s also incredibly timely. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements are still going strong, and the man whose allegations of sexual misconduct started it all, Harvey Weinstein, who was recently arrested, charged and indicted for rape.
“I want to make ‘Fight Club’ for women,” Noxon recently told Variety. “We deal with the beauty industry and how beauty and violence are linked. The violence we see against women is related to the violence we do to ourselves looking for an ever-moving target, that ideal of beauty that will make us lovable and precious.”
The showrunner, whose previous TV credits include “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” and “UnREAL,” also said the violence against men and women depicted in “Dietland” is not there for mere shock value.
“Does [revolution] require violence and a real threat to the ruling class to keep change moving forward?” she asked Variety. “Should women arm themselves?” After all, as Margulies’ Montgomery puts it in a recent teaser, wine glass in her hand: “Men would rather destroy the world than let us rule it.”
Billed as a “darkly comedic drama” by Deadline, “Dietland” is very much a “’Fight Club’ for women,” as Noxon put it, albeit one that’s also a modern, warts-and-all update of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Kettle is very much an Andy-like figure, and Montgomery is more often than not portrayed as an absurd, over-the-top character. Combined with the many disparate storylines of wronged women seeking vengeance against the men who hurt them, this makes for an odd mix. A timely and important one, but an odd one nonetheless.
“Dietland” premieres Monday, June 4, at 9 p.m. on AMC.