Based on the hit novel by Sarai Walker, the new series tackles the extreme expectations placed on women with rage, retaliation and ultimately murder
In one of the saddest moments of the new black comedy series Dietland, the show’s heroine, Plum Kettle, lovingly bakes and decorates a cake. She sings passionately, completely immersed in her work, which is clearly a true labor of love. When she finishes the final touches, she dabs a bit of frosting on her thumb and takes a tiny taste. For a very brief moment, she seems blissfully happy and content, until she realizes that she is not allowed even such small indulgences according to the incredibly restrictive diet she is on in preparation for getting weight loss surgery. A look of horror is available on her face and she immediately runs to the sink to rinse her mouth out.
Scenes like this one illustrate the depths with which Plum has been instructed that she doesn’t deserve joy. Throughout the series, Dietland interrogates how our current beauty culture’s emphasis on ” perfection” encourages self-harm. This is seen from the opening credits where a cartoon Plum, looking sad and dejected, starts a journey up a mountain of confectionary treats. As she moves up the mountain, she loses weight and has a makeover with a red dress, capturing the attention of several male admirers, but she keeps climbing and climbing getting skinnier and skinnier, until eventually a skeleton of herself gets to the top and dies.