Ready for streaming on Amazon is another well-done series focusing on Zelda Sayre (played by Christina Ricci), the infamous wife of the renown author F. Scott Fitzgerald (played by David Hoflin). This version is based on a book, “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Anne Fowler. Naturally, I’m fascinated by this story for a variety of reasons.
The period drama begins during World War I when Zelda meets the young and handsome would-be author about to go off to war. Struggling with his first novel and dealing with rejections, he quickly falls for the southern sweetie with a mind of her own. Zelda, to her father’s disappointment, is not the obedient young daughter he desires, but rather one who is out and about drinking and carousing with the boys in town. She wants to leave the dull southern life and see the lights of the big cities.
Her romance with Fitzgerald is quickly ignited, but he leaves for war. They write and keep in touch, and even after his return to New York, they continue to correspond. When his first book is finally published, “This Side of Paradise,” Fitzgerald is riding high on royalties, and Zelda comes to New York. They quickly marry, and she is drawn into the author’s world of booze and non-stop parties. At first, she struggles to fit in with his friends but remakes herself into the roaring twenties hot flapper that made a name for herself as Fitzgerald’s wife.
The series is well paced, though a bit slow in the beginning as you are introduced to Zelda’s world and family. Ricci has a thick-as-syrup southern accent. At times she appears physically plain and unattractive, but as she morphs into the daring young lady at her husband’s side in New York City, she gains the attention of everyone, including the press.
If you have ever read about either of their lives, they both had sad endings. LIFE SPOILER: Zelda was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent her last years in an asylum where she died in a fire. Fitzgerald, a heavy drinker all of his life, ruined his health with booze, and he dropped dead of a heart attack. Eventually, their marriage ended on the rocks with both having affairs. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting peek into the lives of a well-known couple who rode the waves of high success because of Fitzgerald’s literary fame. It’s worth the watch and will continue beyond Season One.
While watching Z, I will admit that I am more fascinated with F. Scott Fitzgerald than with Zelda. The story also shows this great author’s extreme weakness and lack of confidence. I am reminded of a quote that Robert DeNiro gave at the Oscars in 2014 introducing the screenplay category. It’s spot on for some of the greats like Fitzgerald and Hemmingway who struggled with demons and booze in spite of their brilliance.
“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”
As an author, I’ve never striven to be famous. Instead, I enjoy writing stories for the sheer enjoyment because I cannot stop the addiction. Being single and alone, it also saves me from becoming a cat lady, hoarding junk, and never going out of doors. (Although I do tend to hibernate more than I should on weekends.) As far as the caffeine, procrastination, panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy, I totally relate but stay away from the booze.
V for Vicki