The “Foie Gras” episode of Julia was directed by Jenée LaMarque. In this episode Julia Child (Sarah Lancashire) went to New York City to give a keynote address at a gala for public television. During her visit she met both pleasant and unpleasant people.
This isn’t a review of the episode. I’m picking up on one specific theme. Let’s talk about fame and how everyone has an opinion about you and what you’re doing when you’re famous. Julia had to face a lot of it in this episode.
Julia, Judith Jones (Fiona Glascott), and Blanche Knopf (Judith Light) had lunch at a famous French restaurant. Blanche was rude and belittling toward Julia, but Julia handled it with grace. Then the chef, Andre, came out. After telling Julia how impressed he was with her, he said, “Leave the real cooking to the men.”
Julia even took this well. She went back to the hotel where Paul (David Hyde Pierce) and Avis (Bebe Neuwirth) had been sparring all afternoon while Paul lay sick in bed. The scenes between Paul and Avis were wonderful, but that’s not the point. The point is Julia rewrote the speech she planned to give at the gala because of her conversation with Chef Andre.
She spoke about cooking being a voyage into a culture and a kind of travel. She talked about the value of public television. She was fabulous.
Seated back at her table, she bumped into Betty Friedan (Tracee Chimo Pallero). Friedan told her in the most unkind way that her program was not helping women because it kept women in the kitchen.
Paul told Betty Friedan she was rude, and Russ Morash (Fran Kranz) actually stuck up for Julia for once.
Despite her defenders, that insult from Betty Friedan got to Julia. She went out into the lobby and sat down on a couch. She was near tears.
A kind man, instantly recognizable as Fred Rogers (Rob McClure), spoke to her. She said some of the people inside hated her, and he answered “I like you. I like you just the way you are.” This was before Fred Rogers had his own show on public television. He was simply a kind man in the lobby.
Fred cheered her up a bit. (Later, Julia went on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and made spaghetti.)
There’s one episode left in the season, and the preview hints at the idea that Julia might be so discouraged by the critics that she’s close to giving up the show. We know that didn’t happen, but it will be interesting to see how she pulled her self-confidence and mental toughness back together and decided to stay on television.
I can’t imagine the treatment famous people go through nowadays. Everyone on earth has their own bullhorn and is shouting their opinions about everything all day long. Some are supportive, and some are disgusting, but everyone is a critic. What an onslaught to face.
One more episode
I’ve already sad that there’s but one more episode in this season. One thing is clear – Sarah Lancashire is killing it as Julia Child. She can sit down on a couch in a way that makes you believe she’s every inch of 6 foot 2. Every move she makes, every word she speaks, every subtle facial expression – she’s brilliant. Yes, even I’m a critic.