PALM ROYAL – Review by Susan Granger

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Loosely inspired by Juliet McDaniels’ 2018 novel Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, the comedy series Palm Royale, set in the late 1960s, follows the misadventures of former Tennessee beauty queen Maxine Simmons (Kristen Wiig), a desperate social climber determined to join South Florida’s most elegant, exclusive country club.

Currently penniless, ambitious Maxine is married to dim-witted airline pilot Douglas (Josh Lucas), presumed heir to the plastics/mouthwash fortune of his formidable aunt, high-society doyenne Norma Delacorte (Carol Burnett), who recently suffered a life-threatening embolism and is currently lying comatose in a posh nursing home.

In order to accomplish her goal, Maxine – as an unwanted interloper – must not only steal and lie but also charm snobbish socialite competitors like Evelyn (Allison Janney), Dinah (Leslie Bibb) and Mary (Julia Duffy), each hosting a glitzy fundraiser during high season.

Chronicled by reporter Ann Holiday (Mindy Cohn) in the ubiquitous Shiny Sheet, their duplicitous social politics and seductive treachery reign supreme.

But Maxine’s most formidable frenemy turns out to be bohemian Linda Shaw (Laura Dern), who runs an earthy feminist collective situated in a West Palm Beach book store: Our Bodies, Our Shelves.

Supplying Maxine with a constant supply of her favorite mint-green grasshopper cocktails is wary, eagle-eyed Robert Diaz (Ricky Martin), a hunky Korean War veteran working as a bartender at the swanky Palm Royale and doubling as Norma’s pool boy/loyal companion.

Created as a darkly comedic melodrama by showrunner Abe Sylvia, this flimsy, farcical, frivolous frolic starts out deceptively shallow but slowly builds in depth and intensity, incorporating a beached whale and an astronaut falling from the sky.

In various interviews, Sylvia has described conniving Maxine as “a bit of an Archie Bunker character, Her ideas are so retrograde, and yet we buy into her character because she believes them so much – she’s so optimistic and likable.”

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Palm Royale is a silly, satiric, sun-soaked 7 – with all 10 episodes now streaming on Apple TV+ …and it’s been renewed for a second season,

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.