Dietland episode 5 review: Is Plum set to join Jennifer?

Dietland episode 4

In some ways, you could argue that Dietland episode 5 is the conclusion of Plum’s origin story. It’s her hitting rock bottom and realizing that no matter what she does for others, she’s always going to be hurt or betrayed. Maybe she’s judged for her weight, or maybe she’s perceived as weak and cast aside because of that. Either way, she’s leaving this episode at her lowest point and feeling desperate enough to find some element of change.

It’s hard to even list the many ways she was devastated in what was a painful, at-times uncomfortable hour of TV. Even though Plum is a fictional character, it was hard to watch some of what she went through just because so many of us have been where she is. Her time in the dating circuit was marked by her being abandoned, ignored, shamed, and at one point obsessed over by a guy fetishizing her for her weight. She was at one point not only ditched in the middle of dinner, but also mocked by some fellow patrons out on the night.

To go along with that further, Kitty fired her after she was looking for a way to channel her rage onto someone else. She was infuriated that she was being stripped of many of her powers at Daisy Chain and elsewhere over her pro-Jennifer publications. She gave the organization a platform by publishing a manifesto, and after an adult film actress (Stella) was apparently killed by them, it was then determined that she negotiated with terrorists. (How did the higher-ups not think that this was coming?) While we never agreed with the decision Kitty made in the first place, Julianna Margulies did have an exceptional performance in some of her scenes tonight, showing some rare vulnerability and her frustrations that a risk she took were costing her a job she was infinitely more qualified for than many of the men around her.

Jennifer is no doubt dangerous, largely because its hyper-realized take on empowerment and aggression could cause the scales of society to tip. Yet, exploring that in an edgy, visceral way is what Dietland does best. It tells a story of extremes meant to jar and alter your way of thinking — change is good, but what’s the value of extreme change? What are the limits? It is funny at times, satirical at others, and yet also serious in the way it approaches actions and consequences.

Now that she has nothing else — she was even betrayed by Dom, who turned out to be working for Kitty the whole time — joining Jennifer may be the only appealing option for Plum. It’s her way to get revenge on society, and she comes armed with so much more information than most.

CarterMatt Verdict

When it comes to producing discomfort and also expression real-life awkwardness and pain, this was the best episode of Dietland to date. It was real enough to not make us want to relive it again anytime soon, but beyond compelling enough to have us continue to watch for the rest of the season.

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