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  • Hamish Hart

Palm Royale (2024) Series Review

RATING: 6.5/10

POTENITAL is a peculiar thing, especially for television series, as it can either rise to the top and flourish or falter to the bottom and become wasted. Abe Sylvia's Palm Royale is on a slippery slope, beginning on a downward spiral, but possessing enough star power and interesting story beats to create an engaging narrative by the end of its ten episode mini-series.

Based on Juliet McDaniel's book Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, Palm Royale follows Maxine Simmons (Kristen Wiig) as she attempts to gain high society status at Palm Beach, Florida's most exclusive country club: the Palm Royale. But in order to reach the elusive upper status, Maxine will have to befriend a number of well-known members such as Dinah Donahue (Leslie Bibb) and Evelyn Rollins (Allison Janney).

Kristen Wiig, Alison Janney, Josh Lucas, Laura Dern, Ricky Martin; the series possesses an alluring cast, all of whom bring life to their eccentric and colourful characters. The only major problem with this is that none of them have had a proper chance to express their personalities in meaningful ways yet as the premiere episodes have been dedicated solely to flushing out Maxine's journey into the club; a journey that felt needlessly dragged out over an entire episode. This is just one of the few problems with adapting a story from page to screen that is less than 400 pages in length: lack of material. However, this doesn't mean the series can't build on the characters they've set up, especially with the inevitable murder of an unknown victim being set up in the pilot by the hands of an unknown assailant. And while this mystery is an interesting one, it certainly feels like its attempting to be a cheap version of Big Little Lies set in the 1960s.

The costume and set design is impressive for the tone and setting they are going for, with the scenes and characters feeling ripped right out of the era. Laura Dern's female rights activist character of Linda Shaw and Josh Lucas' air pilot persona of Douglas Simmons, in particular, emphasise the quality of costume design more than any other due to the accuracy. Of course this is also aided by the performances both of them give as well. Dern and Simmons stand out as the two highlights of the series so far, with Ricky Martin's Robert having all the potential to become the series frontrunner when he becomes more prominent in the plot. This does raise a concerning question: why aren't I talking about Kristen Wiig's lead character of Maxine so much? Well, that's because she isn't all that likeable of a lead (so far, at least). Despite Wiig giving it her all, the writing given to her character isn't doing her any favours, and while this may become a none-factor with added backstory, her persona at the moment is unlikeable and downright petty, giving the audience little to no reason to care about her struggle. And yet again, another reason why such a short story works better on paper and not screen.

Palm Royale has all the potential to be a charming drama set in the cultural decade, but its sluggish pace in the pilot episodes holds the series back, making it difficult for newcomers to give Apple TV's latest show a proper chance. And it's a real shame too as the show looks like its only getting better from here because if it somehow gets worse... oh boy.


About Me

Hamish newsheadshot_edited.jpg

Born in Longreach in Central West Queensland, I have undertaken a number of prominent roles across the region such as Journalist and Digital Media for The Longreach Leader, as well as appearing on critically-acclaimed radio stations ABC Western Queensland and 4LG and West FM to discuss all things film.

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