Photo Courtesy of Amazon
Article Written by Alexa Doiron
Amazon released its new historical fiction series based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald this winter. While excited fans awaited the series’ premiere date, their expectations were not met when the show finally aired.
“Z: The Beginning of Everything” drew inspiration from the popular novel with the same title. The novel garnered great interest after its publication and fans were thrilled to see the show add a new element to the fantastic and mysterious life of Mrs. Fitzgerald. However, where the book let readers into the mind of this great woman, the show fell short in keeping viewers interested.
One of the first issues concerns the cast that was picked to play these large roles. The only actor that succeeds in his role is David Stratharin, but his talent is wasted in a character that merely contributes cheesy dad lines. While Christina Ricci crosses the screen in her shiny flapper gowns, her co-star and on-screen husband, David Hoflin, portrays a Scott Fitzgerald that is so transparent and dull, it is no wonder she turns down his first marriage proposal. Zelda’s mother is played by Kristine Nielsen who acts as a literal idiot throughout the show, always saying “Be good, Zelda,” despite knowing very well that Zelda is never good.
The show also drags out the beginning of the relationship between Zelda and Scott in an attempt to include more information on their first courtship. However, the only thing this method succeeds in is thoroughly boring the viewers. In fact, it isn’t until halfway through the first season that Zelda leaves Montgomery. While it is nice to have such a close look at the life of Zelda before Scott, it honestly isn’t very interesting. The first few episodes repeat scenes of Zelda going to parties with her friends, flirting with young men, and being reprimanded by her father. All of which could have been conveyed in only one of the thirty-minute episodes.
However, an aspect of the show, and one that made the novel so popular, is that from Zelda’s point of view we are able to see in full force the emotional abuse, mental illness, addiction, and controlling nature of the infamous writer. Most only remember the portrayal of Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) from the movie “Midnight in Paris” (2011) where Zelda (Alison Pill) was the only one in the relationship seen with some sort of emotional imbalance. This show reveals another side of the relationship that had been ignored for decades.
In terms of how the show relates to the novel, there seems to be a lot of dissimilar aspects. For example, while the book does give background on Zelda’s life in Montgomery it is not nearly to the painstaking extent that the show does.
It will be interesting to see if Amazon picks up the show for a second season, especially after advertising it so much. If not, this will be the second show of the year for the company that fails, following the sad demise of the highly anticipated show, “Good Girls Revolt,” which was also based on a popular book.
Hopefully, however, the company will be able to recover from this dusty first season to create a second that both accurately portrays Zelda’s life as well as entertains viewers. The story of Zelda Fitzgerald is one that needs to be told, from the misdiagnosed schizophrenia to the broken artist. If it isn’t through Amazon, then hopefully some other platform will come forward to expand on this illustrious character of literary history.