Last Call: Julia Child is getting the prestige TV treatment

Julia Child in her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Julia Child in her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis (Getty Images)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

HBO Max is, according to Deadline, producing a series based on the life of Julia Child, simply called Julia. It has ordered eight episodes and will go into production this spring.

It was bound to happen, wasn’t it? Not only is just about every notable topic and figure being given a high-budget prestige patina on streaming services as of late, but Julia Child has the distinction of being someone whose life story is actually chock-full of interesting turns, intertwined with 20th-century history in a way that feels tailored to a TV season’s natural arc. You can picture it now, can’t you? Episode one will probably cover Julia’s learning curve with the French language, while somewhere around episode 4 is where we’ll see her husband, Paul—played by David Hyde Pierce!—interrogated by the U.S. government. It’s all so clear, and it’s bound to be captivating, because these biopics always find a way to be. The music always helps.

“We are so happy to help bring the incomparable Julia Child back to the small screen, when we need her more than ever,” said HBO Max’s head of original content, Sarah Aubrey. “This show’s look into her life, marriage and trailblazing career as she transformed the way we talk about food is an absolute delight. Our incredible cast and formidable creative team are a recipe for success, and we couldn’t be more excited.” (That last sentence isn’t that important, but the use of “recipe” is too cute by half, so I left it in.)

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In the role of Julia Child is British actress Sarah Lancashire, whom I personally have never heard of or seen in anything, but who, according to Wikipedia, was once the highest paid TV actress in the UK. A phenom, just like Julia! Does this sound like a series you’d be interested in keeping up with? With so much competing for our stay-at-home eyeballs right now, there’s a sea of options out there. But the inimitable energy of Julia Child might make for some delightful viewing.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

One of the best things about the advent of the streaming service is that a balance has finally been struck between “you have to compress this into a two-hour movie” and “if you serialize television, as soon as a viewer missed an episode, they’re less likely to come back because they’ll feel lost.”

Biopics can stretch their legs and explore deeper story concepts, and there’s so much more viability in taking various properties and adapting them to television—the old saying “video game movies suck” has yielded to shows like The Witcher (admittedly more about the books than the games, but it’s a start.)

Which in turn makes me think “someone needs to do Elder Scrolls or Fallout.