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Pallas

S01.E04: Petit Fours

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As WGBH reaps the rewards of their new star’s efforts, a jealous rival threatens the station’s burgeoning success. 

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The scene between Julia and her college friend where the college friend heavily insinuated they had some kind of lesbian experience together felt out of place and very awkward within the context of this particular series.  I'm curious where, if anywhere, they are going with that, as it would be strange to cast Robin Weigert for what seemed like such a small part.

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I thought about the scene with her lesbian college friend, too, and it makes me wonder if the show is going to have a running thread about the homophobia that was prevalent in the era and that she was known to exhibit.  I do think that when we look back at people we now have cultural love for, like Julia Child, we sometimes don't quite see or know ways in which we might have found them difficult.  This piece talks about her homophobia https://www.bostonmagazine.com/2007/04/02/just-a-pinch-of-prejudice/

What was interesting to me in the scene was the way the original memory worked so differently for them.  (Talking about them as tv characters, rather than real people now.)  For Iris, it was a powerful memory of a kind of warmth and intimacy, while tv-Julia didn't or couldn't know what the moment meant to her and had now to think about it. 

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The Boston Magazine piece is enlightening and not just because of the homophobia but also because it highlights her essentially anti-feminist views although it does go to great lengths to discuss how those views were complicated and she did support females in the cooking world.

I had assumed that she was part of the generation of women who created feminism - those born in the years just before and after WW I like Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm. The Smith educated women - super bright - highly educated and forced into stultifying lifestyles because of views of female roles. 

Interesting that her personal history was more complicated since she essentially rejected feminism and yet created a marriage/life in which she was the *star* and her husband was the prototypical "wife" in the background who made valuable but somewhat uncredited contributions to the success of the visible star.

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Was anyone else getting Hyacinth Bouquet vibes from the voice and accent during this episode?

 

15 hours ago, txhorns79 said:

The scene between Julia and her college friend where the college friend heavily insinuated they had some kind of lesbian experience together felt out of place and very awkward within the context of this particular series.

 

15 hours ago, marybennet said:

What was interesting to me in the scene was the way the original memory worked so differently for them.  (Talking about them as tv characters, rather than real people now.)  For Iris, it was a powerful memory of a kind of warmth and intimacy, while tv-Julia didn't or couldn't know what the moment meant to her and had now to think about it. 

This confused me a bit too. The college friend's retelling made it seem like something of significance took place, yet Julia seemed to be legitimately puzzled.  

The Boston Magazine article was interesting. I don't know much about her beyond her show and Julia & Julia. It's kind of interesting though how she had a clear preference for "manly men" and "normal" relationships while she herself was far from being what was considered a "girly girl" in her day.  

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2 hours ago, ichbin said:

The Boston Magazine article was interesting. I don't know much about her beyond her show and Julia & Julia. It's kind of interesting though how she had a clear preference for "manly men" and "normal" relationships while she herself was far from being what was considered a "girly girl" in her day.  

I can't really find it in myself to give Julia some kind of special scorn for having the same kind of attitudes that most of society had.  It's disappointing, but it also is a good reminder that she was a person with flaws.

The person that she mentions in the article who died of AIDS was her lawyer, who she was very close with.  She ended up on the right side of history, which is the more important part.

If they want to do a spin-off about Avis, I'm all about that.

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22 minutes ago, starri said:

I can't really find it in myself to give Julia some kind of special scorn for having the same kind of attitudes that most of society had.  It's disappointing, but it also is a good reminder that she was a person with flaws.

The person that she mentions in the article who died of AIDS was her lawyer, who she was very close with.  She ended up on the right side of history, which is the more important part.

I don't disagree. People who are gone should be viewed on the totality of their lives and time, place, and events are factors which should be taken into consideration regardless of current norms. 

31 minutes ago, starri said:

If they want to do a spin-off about Avis, I'm all about that.

I'm not sure just how compelling a spin-off about Avis would be but I am enjoying Bebe Neuwirth's portrayal of her.

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I read that scene differently - I don't think it implied a lesbian experience between Julia and Iris. I think that Iris experienced something but to Julia, it was just a fun time with a friend. It was confusing to Julia because she didn't have the same feelings about it that Iris did and probably hadn't even considered the possibility until confronted with by Iris. 

And I think it also touched upon Julia's confusion about what it means to be a public figure and how suddenly, her entire persona has meaning to all of these other people who don't really mean much to her.

I had a couple of challenges with this episode. They implied that John Updike wasn't living in the Boston area and would have to travel to appear on Duhamel's show but in the previous episode, they implied that Julia's editor would have to visit Updike while she was in Massachusetts. In real life, Updike moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts in the 60s, but even if they took creative liberties, this seemed like a continuity error in the context of the show.

I will say, though, that they do an excellent job placing the show in a specific time and period - they've gotten a lot of the details of Greater Boston in that era correct.

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I was a bit confused by the college friend scene too.  The more I think about it,  maybe that day awakened something in her friend something she had pushed down. And Julia's easy friendship and pure love, made her see what could be possible with a woman.  I don't think anything happened,  but the conversation confused Julia because she didnt see it as her friend did because they were coming from two different perspectives. Julia's friend found the day extremely significant, while Julia just saw it as a fun day hanging out with a good friend. Lol, maybe I'm wrong but thats how I see it.

* I can also see a woman of that day and age being a bit taken aback by being the person to open up her friend's heart and mind  to being a lesbian. 

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I'm not terribly surprised that Julia Child wasn't much of a feminist.  afterall, many recipes in her cookbook require hours of preparation, something a "working woman" would have little time to do.  it really could be seen as, "wives, here's a way to make new and delicious recipes for your working man while you're home all day."  that's not feminist at all.

 

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The college friend scene seems very out of sync and quite gratuitous. The first misstep that they have made in a really excellent series.

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I know this is a show about Julia, but I want to give a shout-out to Judith Light's fantastic portrayal of Blanche Knopf. I would love to see a show about the rise of the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house and Blanche interacting with the most famous authors of that era.

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On 4/9/2022 at 1:03 PM, ichbin said:

Was anyone else getting Hyacinth Bouquet vibes from the voice and accent during this episode?

I was getting Hyacinth crossed with Margaret Thatcher (a combination of the Meryl Streep and Gillian Anderson versions).

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On 4/9/2022 at 4:03 PM, ichbin said:

Was anyone else getting Hyacinth Bouquet vibes from the voice and accent during this episode?  

I get it from every episode.  The actress being British doesn't help.  She's playing her at least 20 years older, too.

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On 4/9/2022 at 12:20 AM, marybennet said:

What was interesting to me in the scene was the way the original memory worked so differently for them.  (Talking about them as tv characters, rather than real people now.)  For Iris, it was a powerful memory of a kind of warmth and intimacy, while tv-Julia didn't or couldn't know what the moment meant to her and had now to think about it. 

Not just that, but It seemed to me that when Iris first appeared on the porch, Julia had no recollection of who she even was. I had the feeling that Julia was just being nice to a woman who said she was a former classmate. Julia has a memory of skinny dipping in cold water (that would certainly leave an impression!) but not necessarily any memory of the person who was with her, and also, according to Iris, a bottle of Beefeater was involved. 

On 4/9/2022 at 7:09 PM, starri said:

If they want to do a spin-off about Avis, I'm all about that.

I don't know about a spin-off, but if you're interested in more about Avis, I'd suggest reading As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece.  I read it after reading Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France.

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11 hours ago, ProudMary said:

Not just that, but It seemed to me that when Iris first appeared on the porch, Julia had no recollection of who she even was. I had the feeling that Julia was just being nice to a woman who said she was a former classmate. Julia has a memory of skinny dipping in cold water (that would certainly leave an impression!) but not necessarily any memory of the person who was with her, and also, according to Iris, a bottle of Beefeater was involved. 

I had a similar experience once.  I went to grad. school in my late 20s with mostly female classmates.  We often engaged in group study sessions and lunches after class.  Right after my final semester, a classmate clued me in that one of the women in our group had a crush on me (and happened to be about 20 years older than me, too).  I was completely unaware of this as being very "straight" my awareness of female interest was very limited back then.  She said, "I guess you didn't know she was gay and didn't notice how she hangs around you", etc.  Nope, I was clueless.  The next time I saw the woman was at graduation and I suddenly noticed how she hung around me and reacted to my every word.  I even have photos of us in the procession in our caps and gowns with her following right behind me.  Yikes, I was completely blind to this until I got hit over the head with the proverbial 2x4. 

So anyway, yes, this is exactly how I read this situation in this show.

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