Parents' Guide to

Z: The Beginning of Everything

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Subtle period piece on vibrant, troubled Zelda Fitzgerald.

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Christina Ricci makes a sympathetic and compelling Zelda Fitzgerald in this period-perfect series that will make viewers glad to visit the days of jazz and bathtub gin. If viewers have heard of Zelda at all from the many stories about her that were filtered through Scott's fame, they probably picture a drunken flapper jumping in a fountain just before getting admitted to a mental hospital (or "sanatorium," as they called it back in the day). That's the outline of Zelda's life, too, but Z: The Beginning of Everything fills in the details: the fact that she was a writer, too, from whom Scott frequently pilfered, for example. In Ricci's portrayal, she's enchanting, too -- a wild sprite who matches her husband drink for drink and is full of fun and adventure.

The optics, too, are beautiful: women in linen dresses and silk chemises, marble bathtubs, everyone in hats. Watching a couple of alcoholics spiral down is always a bummer, but the Fitzgeralds do it with such beautiful style and in such rich surroundings. Fans of period shows such as Mad Men or Downton Abbey may find particular delight in watching, soaking up vintage sights such as a New York City street with no cars and an old Hollywood screen test. We know it's all going nowhere good, but, like the Fitzgerald's time as the toast of the Jazz Age, it's fun while it lasts.

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