The Atlantic

Is Television Ready for Angry Women?

Producer Marti Noxon has two shows about women’s pain and rage debuting this summer—and the timing couldn’t be better.
Source: Dina Litovsky

On a soundstage in Queens, New York, the crew for Marti Noxon’s new TV series Dietland has built an extremely realistic replica of the offices of a modern women’s magazine. Covers from previous issues decorate the hallway, featuring an array of beautiful young white women and taglines such as “Scarves That Slim.” The kitchen wall, a violent, appetite-diminishing shade of green, is painted with the words try harder. The beauty closet, a serene, cathedral-like space, has floor-to-ceiling shelves labeled dark spot corrector, stretch mark reduction, skin lightener, buffing cream. The products on set seem to number in the thousands.

The only off note is the editor in chief’s office, which looks out onto a backdrop of the New York City skyline and has the requisite pastel tones, velvet upholstery, black-and-white photographs, and Instagrammable bouquets of roses. For the scene Noxon has just filmed, the office was trashed by its occupant, Kitty, played by Julianna Margulies. Chairs are upturned, flowers are strewed everywhere, and magazine pages are in shreds. The aesthetic perfection has been thoroughly dismantled by a woman in a profound state of rage.

Dietland is a show so uncannily timed for its moment, it’s strange to note that Noxon first optioned it two years ago, after listening to the audiobook of Sarai Walker’s 2015 novel of the same name while driving around Los Angeles. In the book, which has been compared to a feminist version of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, a guerrilla group of women kidnaps and murders men who’ve been accused of crimes against women, ranging from institutionalized misogyny to violent sexual assault. But that’s just a subplot. The rest of the novel deals with toxic beauty standards, the weight-loss industry, a magazine called Daisy Chain, rape culture, feminist infighting, and the coming of age of a lonely, 300-pound writer named Plum.

When Noxon showed an early episode of to a male friend, he was part impressed, part appalled at how prescient it was. “He kept saying, ‘Did you know? All this.”

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