Julia: Fried Chicken, episode 2 of the second season of Julia, involves a high stakes cookoff, several famous names, and a still uncertain list of recipes for the cookbook. Are Julia Child (Sarah Lancashire) and her cookbook co-writer Simca (Isabella Rossellini) loving sisters or jealous enemies? There are spoilers ahead.
Julia: Fried Chicken remains in France. Deadlines approach and people pester for results. LIfe Magazine is sending demanding telegrams about interviews.
Judith Jones (Fiona Glascott), the editor from Knopf, goes to France in hopes of finding Julia and Simca ready with recipes. They are not. But she gets to meet some famous folks while she’s there. Jacques Brel (Oli Higginson) writes a song for her and makes a pass at her!
In addition to Brel, James Beard (Christian Clemenson) arrives with his beard Frances Field (Stockard Channing) in hand. Beard also invited a very handsome young man named Sam (Nassim Lyes).
Sam makes a pass at everyone, including Paul Child (David Hyde Pierce), which was fun. These people aren’t just hungry for food.
The Big Cookoff
With all these people assembled and no recipes agreed upon, Julia and Simca have a cookoff. Diners will vote for their favorites. James Beard joins in with a fried chicken. They eat for hours, have a lovely time sampling dish after dish. When it’s over, the recipes for the cookbook are still under contention.
One of the issues between Julia and Simca is jealousy over Julia’s fame. They argue in the kitchen. Later as Julia and Paul prepare for bed in their matching pajamas, Julia says, “Success changed everything and I don’t know what to do about it.”
At the end of the evening everyone is paired up with someone – or perhaps with a manuscript – and the camera merry-go-rounds between one sleeping couple and the next again and again. It reminded me of a scene from Sarah Lancashire’s Last Tango in Halifax.
Whether that was a call back to Sarah Lancashire’s oeuvre or not, the crown of flowers Julia wore at the big cookoff was definitely a call back to a famous photo of Julia Child wearing a crown of flowers. The part of the conversation you see above was when Julia and Paul explained to the assembled diners that the secret to marriage is food, fucking, and flattery. This series loses no opportunity to make sure we know Julia Child was a woman of lusty appetites, plain speaking, and large gestures.
Meanwhile back in Boston
Alice (Brittany Bradford) hooks up with Isaac (Tosin Morohunfola). Afterwards, she knows so little about how her own body works that she has to get an education from the new director of The French Chef, Elaine Levitch (Rachel Bloom). I thought this was a clever way to introduce topics like birth control, body autonomy, and reproductive rights into this 1960s conversation. It makes Alice’s desire to have more programming for women look even smarter.
Avis (Bebe Neuwirth) meets Harvard Prof Stanley (Danny Burstein). She gives him butterflies! He wants to kiss her! Avis runs to France in a panic. While she’s on the telephone getting a last minute plane ticket, she tells her story to the ticket agent. What really scares her about Stanley is her age, her aging body, and exposing that to someone new. I love how this series manages to make the show about so much more than Julia Child and food.
Melanie Mayron directed. The series is on Max. Please leave your thoughts on episode 2 in the comments. 🙂