HBO Max cooks up a hit with ‘Julia’

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On March 31, HBO Max released the first three episodes of its limited series “Julia,” following the life of superstar home chef Julia Child. Child was an American television personality famous for bringing French cuisine into mainstream America. Her public broadcast “The French Chef” aired in the early ‘60s and reached fifty million viewers at the height of its popularity. “Julia” begins just before Child’s start in American television.  

As the show progresses, the audience sees Julia’s rise to fame and how she became the household name we know today. The iconic Julia Child is portrayed by Sarah Lancashire. Lancashire is best known for her acting overseas starring in many different British television shows and movies.   

In the first episode of the series, Child begins selling and promoting her newly published cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” She appears on the Boston television program “I’ve Been Reading” to speak about the book but ends up giving a live cooking lesson on camera. While the book sells some copies, Child struggles to make it in the cooking world. That is, until viewers of “I’ve Been Reading” fall in love with her joyful personality and cooking skills. 

The audience reaction to her TV appearance sets Child down a path of determination. She sets out to pitch and create her own cooking show for public television. Much to the chagrin of her TV-hating husband Paul (portrayed by David Hyde Pierce), the pilot of her show shoots her to stardom. The rest of the series follows Child in her newfound glory. Child initially struggles with her celebrity status, but grows accustomed to her fame and place as a household name in public television.  

When comparing the HBO Max show to actual videos of Julia Child’s TV show, it is clear to see that Lancashire has both the voice and demeanor of Child down pat. Her portrayal of the iconic chef is almost near perfect. Lancashire captures the joyful soul of Julia Child incredibly well.  

The show in and of itself is a love letter to the woman that so many have learned from. The series is bright and full of beautiful dishes that will make any viewer’s mouth water. Interestingly enough, each episode is the title of the dish that Child focuses on in the following 45 minutes. In the first episode, “Omelette,” Child creates the dish that gained her acclaim on Boston’s WGBH Network. With Child at helm, WGBH pioneered a new era of food-filled television in the sixties.  

“Julia” is a must see for any home chef or self-acclaimed foodie. It allows older generations to reminisce on the actual home cooking show that many fell in love with. It also ushers in a new love of cooking for many. When I was watching the series, I wanted to get up and try cooking along to Child’s original videos. While there are only three episodes available to stream so far, more episodes will be released each Thursday. Overall, this series is a real treat for anyone who is interested in the art of cooking or the infectious joy of the beloved Julia Child. 

Rating: 4/5

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