Dietland Breakdown: 4 Stars Discuss Finale, Women's Movement & More!

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If you haven't figured it out by now, as women's rights are back into the spotlight thanks to such movements as #MeToo and #TimesUp, Dietland is more than just a TV show.

And like the show itself, Joy Nash (Plum), Tamara Tunie (Julia), Robin Weigert (Verena), and Selenis Leyva (Soledad/Belle) are more than just the stars of Dietland, they've found themselves included in the larger discussion because fate made it so.

I had a chance to talk with all four within the past two days about Dietland Season 1; where the finale finds their characters; the ability of people to be righteous both in and out of character, and the discussion generated around Dietland and the various issues of the day.

Can Plum Keep Up? - Dietland Season 1 Episode 10

As the credits rolled on the finale, safe spaces where the characters had been working were effectively upended. Plum abandoned her quiet life for one on the run with Jennifer as the women we'd only just met as "Jennifer" were being torn down once the Feds were on the case after Verena offered names that resulted in Julia and her sisters' arrests. The end, ultimately, is only the beginning.

Weigert, who believes the friendship between Verena and Julia "has deep roots, goes way back and maybe we ended up being sort of two sides of the same coin a little bit, going in two different directions with the same essential ideology," also understands why Verena went to the FBI.

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"Obviously Verena has some, I believe, feeling of culpability when it comes to this group that calls themselves Jennifer because even though she didn't consciously help to create that organization, once she was stirring the pot with a lot of different women, psychically, who knows what you're going to create.

"And I think one of the messages of the show if you can say that, is that once you get a fire going, you can't really control where it spreads. You may be tapping into something very valuable when you're tapping into rage that might otherwise implode and become a source of self-destructive behavior.

A New Mission - Dietland

"It seems like on the surface ... it seems, well, let's just get that rage up and out and into the world, and find your voice and get you out there and making a difference. Go, go, go. Then, all of a sudden it's like Pandora's been let out of her box and ... you know what I mean? Pandora's box is open and anything could happen.

"Interesting that I kind of said Pandora's been let out of her box, which is not what I meant to say, but maybe a little Freudian. I mean, it's just something is let loose and who knows where it will end."

Like many of the other characters on Dietland, Weigert believes that even though Verena appeared to be the most unflappable, that under the "savior, a rescuer to all the women" a Calliope House, she had a breaking point in which she might look a lot like her dad. 

"And then if her fear button gets pressed, if she gets triggered, I would think she would snap into a certain kind of more autocratic, more absolutist kind of mode."

That may be what allowed for the serene look on Verena's face as she walked down the street with a smile on her face knowing her friend was going to get arrested for a crime for which she felt some culpability.

Julia's Caught - Dietland Season 1 Episode 10

And Julia is a character for whom Robin felt a lot of interest the moment she removed her white face and expressed her vulnerability.

It's what I considered to be one of if not the most pivotal moments of the series because of how it breaks down what women do, in essence, to get through the day. Perhaps not on that level all of the time, but it can feel like it after a lifetime.

Tamara Tunie talked about it from her perspective and Julia's.

"It was very, I was very nervous about that scene because I felt it was such an important moment in the series, not just for the character but also for the show itself. For me, it kind of just represented the façade that so many of us walk around in, in order to achieve whatever.

Related: Dietland Season 1 Episode 9 Review: Woman Down

"Whether it's to please the eye or whether it's to work in a certain environment, or whether it's to just walk down the street and protect yourself from just the assault of living in the world."

"I mean, and so I felt like it was so powerful. I was really nervous about it because I wanted, I envisioned it in my mind, what it would be like, but until we were actually shooting it ... I mean, the vulnerability of that moment I thought was just really kind of overwhelming.

Who She Is - Dietland

"I thought that they did a beautiful job shooting it, but I just remember being so stressed out about it that like I really couldn't sleep the night before we shot it.

Of course, production was very cooperative and it was a closed set so we could really kind of focus and just really control as much as possible the environment in which I was going to do this peel, because basically, it's just getting, ultimately it's getting naked."

"I think it was, what it meant as far as Julia was concerned was finally stripping away the façade that she had been wearing in order to achieve her goal, working in the Beauty Closet and infiltrating that industry, which was her intent. 

"For the show itself, I think it just kind of accentuated and put an exclamation point on what we, particularly as women do, but any marginalized society has to do in order to fit in or achieve their goals or whatever. I felt like ... When I watched it, I was really as blown away as I think the rest of the audience was."

"Then the idea of this woman who's had a double mastectomy, and not only has she had the double mastectomy, but she's gone through the pain of tattooing roses over her, thorns and roses over mastectomy. I mean, it was just like, "Wow." It was just really amazing. "

Removing the Mask - Dietland

"I want to give a shout out to my body double, Virginia. Virginia Grant is the ... She's not even an actress; she's the woman who played my body double, who has had a double mastectomy. "

"Yeah, so she and I, we were there together, I mean because they used her body, they didn't just do that digitally, but they actually used her body and imposed her body over my body.

"I'm giving the secrets away, but I think it's very important to understand how generous Virginia was to step forward and expose herself in just a really powerful way. That really bonded us.

Related: Dietland Season 1 Episode 8 Review: Rad Fatties

"I mean, we have become great friends. She's an extraordinary woman, and we really, I just really feel bonded to her because of that. I feel like she really gave me something. "

As the face of Dietland, Joy Nash has the "joy" of representing the show and joining what I've always thought of as one of the last fights for equality -- the plight of the overweight person. She corrected me on that in her sweet way naming other plights, and wouldn't even take credit as the face of Dietland.

Is Plum Ready? - Dietland Season 1 Episode 9

Nash is unbelievably kind and gracious, just like Plum. That's why it's so difficult when even in the last moments of the finale, Plum still seems to be making decisions for others, especially after Soledad says to move her fat ass.

While I'm of the opinion it's not a life-altering moment in real life, after what Plum has suffered in such a short time, my first thought was, "This is not for you, Plum. This isn't it. You're looking for something, but you're not looking for this."

"I think that's really insightful," Nash said. "I think that a lot of what gets her into the car is her need to not be alone. She's been alone her entire life and for the first time, she has people who like her and appreciate her and want to know more.

"Well, I guess she had that with friends like Steven, but it's on another level with Jennifer. And then with the threat of having that all that taken away, driving away in a minivan, it's too much.

"I was talking to somebody else this morning and, about those comments, she was like, 'Isn't there any place where Plum can be just accepted as she is and somebody doesn't have to comment on her body?' And I think, 'Yes, I hope there is. But this maybe isn't it.'" 

Time To Run - Dietland Season 1 Episode 10

Selenis Leyva, though, had to read that "fat ass" line and bring it to life, so she shared her take on what it meant in the moment they were running and to her as an actress in these highly charged times.

Yeah, I remember reading and going ... Like, me, the actress, who is very sensitive to words, because that's how society has made us, let's be honest. And it's also politically right now; everything is so charged and so ... Everyone is like ... nerves exposed.

"So for me, that was kind of hard to say it, to even read it out loud. I was like ugh. It didn't feel good. But I gotta tell you, once I was there as Soledad, I didn't think twice about it. Once I was there as Soledad, I was like, 'This is it. This is her just ... '

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"She's fed up. It's a situation that they were in. They're running for their lives, and here is Plum freaking slowing her down. It was a reaction. And sometimes we say things when we are super angry, upset, or whatever, our most vulnerable state. And maybe it's the unfiltered state, right?

"Where we're being just real, and Soledad was just being honest at that moment. She looked at her for who she was? 'Come on, you're fat. Let's go. Move.' At that moment, me, I didn't judge it. Reading it outside of the character, I did judge it.

"But as Soledad, I didn't. It was just the facts. Soledad catches herself. She does catch herself, but not enough to be like, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that.' Enough to just be like, 'Come on, move.'"

The Interview - Dietland

Nash has two moments of empowerment she enjoyed playing with for Plum during the season. "I think that interview she gave, where she's finally putting her face behind her words before she kind of set everything on fire.

"I think that was a big moment for her, where she felt like she was doing something that she was uniquely good at. And then also... God, what was it? I had it, and it disappeared. Oh! Telling off the people, or the woman in the weight loss surgery, in the doctor's office." She believes those scenes are indicative of the growth Plum showed after the first three episodes of the season.

Which character comes the closest to treating others with honesty and dignity like that they were fighting so hard to get?

Weigert realized the question came with baggage in the story is from the point of view of Plum, and she chose accordingly.

Calling out Debra Monk's performance, Plum's mom got the nomination. "She has a pretty awesome mom who's got her best interest in mind, who wants her to recognize her true strengths, and who doesn't judge her, sees her for who she is. All these things we would all wish our mothers would do. We didn't have it and are grateful if our mothers did. "

Plum Gets Angry - Dietland Season 1 Episode 7

It was a little more difficult for Nash who even interrupted her list of names with, "I have such affection for everyone," before adding, "Maybe not Kitty." Sana, Julia, and Leeta were the others on her list.

Tunie laid it on the line by announcing not a single one of them were as good as they let others believe they wanted to be, and that's probably the closest to real life.

What about real life? What kind of discussions is Dietland fostering? We know it spawned a companion aftershow on AMC called Unapologetic with Aisha Tyler.

Weigert is fascinated with history and how long it's taken for the breakthrough that has allowed this discussion to occur at all. She shared a very interesting tale with me about the "evil eye" and the witches trials. At the time, male magistrates would make women face them backward for fear of getting "that look," and Weigert had some thoughts on that today.

Related: Dietland Season 1 Episode 6 Review: Belly of the Beast

"And I still think that that terror exists in the culture and it's fascinating to me. It's like, if women are looking, and they're looking with the condemning eye, it's as if the whole edifice is going to crumble.

"There's inside of that feeling of powerlessness that women have harbored, there is this fascinating reversal that seems possible just with a look that crushes the whole, what's being called the patriarchy or whatever. Just stand there trembling before that gate, and I'm kind of fascinated by that dynamic.

"It sort of scares us all, a little bit. What is this power? There's a mystery to it. There's a mystery to how this is going to unfold and what it's going to eventually evolve into and become. At least to me."

Verena Gets Revenge - Dietland Season 1 Episode 10

You know that beer that has "the most fascinating man" commercials? After conversing with Robin Weigert, I'm looking for a beer who is ready to topple that travesty. I think I may have found the world's most fascinating woman.

But wait! The other women are not to be outdone.

Nash is watching real-world women become sensations on social media and loving every minute of it.

"I just clicked on a link. A woman in France, some guy catcalled her, and she told him to shut up. He came back and punched her in the face. And it was all caught on CCTV.

"And her response was just so badass, it was just... She's like, 'I saw him coming, I knew what he was going to do. And I stood up and took it full force. I looked at him in his eyes and let him know; you can't stop me. You can punch me in the face, but I'm not taking this.' I just thought it was so f–king cool. "

As for how long she thinks it will take to get somewhere in this conversation, Nash says, "I don't know, man. That's a big question. I think we need to respect each other and see each other as fully-fledged human beings. Like we shouldn't be discounting each other because of whatever agenda or whatever."

Julia Tries To Bargain - Dietland Season 1 Episode 8

Tunie believes Dietland is what used to be called "watercooler" television. When everybody watched it and gathered around the water cooler the next day at the office to talk about it.

Most importantly, she hopes men are watching, and women who watch are including the men in their lives because it's with them the discussion needs to be taking place.

As for what kind of signal to look out for that the conversation is evening out, Tunie isn't even ready to contemplate that yet, "I think it's changing a culture and that takes time, that takes time. I couldn't even say. All I can hope is that it gets better and better and better and better and that this just isn't a moment, that this actually is a movement and that it really makes a difference."

Related: Dietland Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Plum Tuckered

Leyva may be the new kid on the block, but she's been making waves on Orange is the New Black for six years now and has a lot to say about discussing women's issues.

"Oh, my gosh. I think it's so timely, right? I thought like, 'Oh, wow. This is perfect timing. Marti, were you just waiting? Were you sitting at the sidelines waiting for this?' It was just perfect timing. And I love that it's opening up more of a conversation because this is not just a bunch of angry women. You know what I mean?

Group Meeting - Dietland Season 1 Episode 10

"Wanting to bring down the man. No, this is a bunch of women who are just like, 'We're tired of the abuse.' And I think for a minute there when women in Hollywood specifically started coming out and saying things, you would hear ... I would hear people say, 'What does that mean for us now? A man can't give us a compliment?' Or a man would ... "

"I had one wonderful man say to me, 'It kind of ruins it for us. So now if I see a pretty woman at work, I can't compliment her on how pretty she looks.' And I'm like, 'Why do you feel the need to compliment her on her looks anyway?' You know what I mean? It's like, 'Why is this ... Why do you feel like you, the man, is being stripped of his rights?' You know?" 

"So I love this that these women are showing, and especially episode 10, where you really get to hear Soledad's story. You get to hear all the other Jennifer stories, in a little bit more detail as to what has driven them to where they are. It's not just a bunch of angry lesbians hiding out hating men.

"No, it's women; a group of women, smart women, women with careers, women who have served in some cases, and served their country, and they're saying, 'Enough is enough. We want to make sure that we are treated fairly, equally, and without this constant abuse that we from a very young age have been taught to believe that's just the way things are or the way things should be.'"

Sophia's Story - Dietland Season 1 Episode 10

"So I love that we are talking more about it, and we're showing guys ... The rape scene with Plum, some people will argue, it's not rape. Is it rape?

"They were on a date. She was at his house. They were getting it on, right? No, so, it's really starting up this great conversation about how men and women need to start looking at how we have been dealing with each other for years, for decades.

"How we don't talk about things because being female means that you have to put up with this, and being male means you have a right to tell a woman she looks really pretty just because you feel like it in the workplace.

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"I love the fact that this show is bringing up so much conversation, and that it's showing these women ... It's not just angry for no reason, it's set up with the way they've been treated."

In her career, Leyva says, "I was always called a bitch by men in my early years as an actress. By directors, a diva." Not because she wanted special treatment, but because she wanted a clean bathroom or a more thorough explanation of the production; things she saw her male co-stars getting all the time without receiving a second glance.

So now, Leyva's final words on the subject say it all. "I'm sorry for the men that feel this is such a burden, but, oh well. Welcome to our world."

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Dietland Quotes

My body was just a thing I used to move my head around. So I missed a lot.

Plum

That's me, Alicia Kettle, but everyone calls me Plum because I'm succulent and round. Also known as fat. It's OK, I'm allowed to say it. I'm telling you this from the future if you hadn't gotten that yet, but don't think this is one of those stories. I'm still fat.

Plum