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Dark and Timely ‘Dietland’ Debuts on AMC

Drama Dietland debuts on AMC Monday, June 4. The series is adapted from the novel by Sarai Walker. Showrunner/exec producer Marti Noxon said she discovered the book after searching something along the lines of “funny novel” on Audible.

“I saw the cover, and thought, a cupcake with a grenade pull,” she said. “That’s definitely not a diet book.”

AMC describes the series as “a wickedly funny and extraordinarily timed satire about Plum Kettle, a ghostwriter for the editor of one of New York’s hottest fashion magazines. Struggling with self-image and fed up with how she’s treated by her boss and society, Plum sets out on a wildly complicated road to self-awakening. At the same time, everyone is buzzing over news reports about men, accused of sexual abuse and assault, who are disappearing and meeting untimely, violent deaths.”

Joy Nash plays Plum and Julianna Margulies plays her boss, Kitty.

Noxon said the series reminds her of The Wizard of Oz, with Austen Media (parent of Plum’s employer, a hip fashion mag called Daisy Chain) as Emerald City, Plum’s boss Kitty as the wizard, and the tornado being when Plum meets Julia, who runs Daisy Chain’s “beauty closet” warehouse.

Noxon and her producer colleagues dropped several Easter eggs throughout Dietland. For one, in The Wizard of Oz, there’s a part of Oz (and a munchkin tribe) called Gillikin; that’s the name of the cafe that Plum hangs out in. Noxon said the Wizard of Oz references are throughout the series, and they’re subtle. “It’s for the deep geek,” she said.

Noxon watched several documentaries to help her construct Dietland, including one about the ‘70s radical group The Weather Underground. “What I find interesting is, revolution can become really co-opted by people who just want to turn it into an adventure for themselves,” she said. “There’s something about these privileged kids who took on this cause.”

The two-hour Dietland premiere airs Monday, and is followed by the after-show, Unapologetic with Aisha Tyler. It’s an odd series, but Noxon anticipates viewers getting on board with Plum Kettle. “I thought of it as funny, twisted fairy tale,” she said. “Plum is the center of it. If you’re with her you’re going on that ride.”

Noxon’s TV credits include Grey’s Anatomy, UnREAL and Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, and she also worked on AMC’s Mad Men.

“It’s fun to come back home to AMC,” said Noxon, “with a totally different [series].”