Is Weight Loss Dramedy Dietland Actually Body Positive?

Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
It can be hard to recommend the upcoming show Dietland to people, because there's practically no other show out there to compare it to. Creator Marti Noxon, who was also the brains behind other Refinery29 favorites like UnREAL and Girlfriends' Guide To Divorce, likens it to The Devil Wears Prada meets Fight Club, but even those two wildly different films don't cover all the ground that stars Joy Nash and Julianna Margulies do in the AMC series. It's about body image and the beauty industry and the trap of dieting but also sexual assault and an undercover vigilante group.
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But let's take things one step at a time. At its core, Dietland, based on the book by Sarai Walker, is about our brains rather than our bodies. Primarily, Plum's (Nash) brain, which she spends all her time using to focus on ways to whittle down her body before an upcoming gastric bypass surgery. At one point, her doctor recommends she cuts her diet down to 700 calories a day. To Plum, life doesn't start until she can fit into the perfect red dress — but actually, living life means she shouldn't have to.
"I had never seen a character like Plum, who was about someone like me," Nash told me when I spoke to her about the role. "Who goes on a journey and it doesn't end with her being thin."
Nash, who gets her breakout role as the lead in Noxon's series, found acceptance with her body when she was 18 thanks to confident, proud, body-positive women on the internet.
"I was infuriated that I was 18 years old and no one had ever suggested to me that you might be okay as you are," she said. "Not in spite of your size but because of it."
And now, hopefully young girls will find this same acceptance thanks to Dietland, which aims to take the focus off of bodies and onto the culture around them.
"Where the show comes down is your body is your body," Noxon told me. "You can do with it whatever you like. The most important thing is the rest of us should get out of it."
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Dietland isn't looking to only convince women that their bodies are important — it's putting the responsibility on everyone else, as well.
"It's a revolutionary show, hopefully," Nash concluded. "It's one thing to love yourself, it's another thing to change the world."
Dietland premieres on AMC June 4.
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