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Series / Z: The Beginning of Everything

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"I love her and she is the beginning of everything."

Z: The Beginning of Everything is a 2017 period drama series. It is headlined by Christina Ricci, who also acted as an Executive Producer. It is based on a book of the same name by Therese Anne Fowler.

The series begins in Montgomery, Alabama in 1918. World War I is waging and a young debutante named Zelda Sayre is eager to find her place in the world. She's a constant source of frustration to her parents, as she has little care for the conservative sense of propriety in the south. She loves to go to dances unchaperoned, wear shorter dresses, flirt shamelessly with young boys and dream of a better life in somewhere like New York.

Zelda soon meets a like-minded young man serving in the War (David Hoflin). He charms her with his Purple Prose and love of art - in stark contrast to the men of Montgomery, who only care about money and motorcars. The man's name is F. Scott Fitzgerald and he dreams of writing the Great American Novel. Zelda promises to marry him when he publishes his first book. He succeeds after the war is over - but only after he's borrowed some passages from her letters.

The series was broadcast on Prime Video and, despite a second season being announced, ran for a single season.


  • Affectionate Nickname: Ludlow Fowler, Scott's best friend, is nicknamed 'Luddy' by Zelda.
  • The Alcoholic: Scott is already one when the story starts. Zelda becomes one too sadly.
  • Arcadia: Subverted with the beautiful Westport home Zelda and Scott move into by the sea. Zelda quickly becomes bored with it, longing for her old city life.
  • Ballet: Zelda was a trained ballerina in real life and performs a dance from Giselle at a function - which is how Scott first meets her.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Zelda wants desperately to escape the town of Montgomery and head for somewhere like New York. She discovers that it's not what she had imagined.
  • Behind Every Great Man: Scott's book doesn't get published until he borrows from Zelda's letters.
  • Biopic: The first one of the couple to be told from Zelda's point of view.
  • Broken Pedestal: When he returns to his alma mater, Scott encounters a young student called Laurence who is a fan of his writing. Laurence then loses all respect for Scott after witnessing his drunken antics.
  • City Mouse: Scott is one of these, and Zelda desperately wants to be one.
  • The City vs. the Country: Plot A. Zelda wishes to escape her dreary small town and live in somewhere like New York. Of course once she gets there she finds herself out of place among the prim and proper socialites. This veers into Plot B towards the end of the first season, where Zelda and Scott move to a beach-side house in Westport, and Zelda becomes bored out of her mind.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Judge Sayre has a rebellious daughter he can't control. In reality the fact that her father was a judge allowed Zelda to get away with some of her loose behaviour in Montgomery.
  • Culture Clash: Between the lavish and rowdy north, and the conservative and quiet south - once Zelda moves to New York.
  • Dance of Romance: Scott and Zelda meet at a party, so of course this happens.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Judge Sayre doesn't believe writing is a real profession and disapproves of Scott's lack of propriety.
  • Engagement Challenge: Zelda promises to marry Scott as soon as he publishes a book. When This Side of Paradise is published, she travels to New York for the wedding.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Zelda's introduction is flashing her friends before she goes for a swim. In reality she did this just to troll her neighbours into thinking she swims in the nude.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Scott's hair becomes slightly longer around the time his book sells. He also doesn't wear it slicked back.
  • Fanservice Pack: Naturally as Zelda adopts the look of the Roaring Twenties.
  • The Flapper: Scott referred to Zelda as 'The First American Flapper', so naturally she embodies this spirit even before the 20s have even started.
  • Foreshadowing: When Scott carves their initials into a pillar, Zelda notes that he carved his bigger than hers.
  • Franchise Original Sin: In-universe example. The first time Zelda discovers that Scott has used some of her writing in his book, she's flattered that he made her a part of his work.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: The initial episodes in Montgomery. Once Zelda gets to New York, she's mocked by the women for her fashion sense. One even says "could she be more interbellum?"
  • Gone Horribly Right: Scott shows his publisher Max some of Zelda's journals in order to deter him from asking questions about why he hasn't written more. Max ends up wanting to publish the journals as a book on its own - irritating Scott, who was hoping to use some of Zelda's writing in his novel.
  • Good Bad Girl: Zelda loves the idea of free love and, although her family are scandalized, she's portrayed sympathetically.
  • Good-Times Montage: Set to Cole Porter's "Let's Misbehave" as Scott and Zelda make their way through various speakeasies.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Zelda loves to go to dances and drink a lot.
  • Historical Domain Character: Tallulah Bankhead, an old friend of Zelda's, features as a character.
  • I Will Wait for You: As Scott is about to be shipped off to France, Zelda refuses to marry him then, but says she will when he's published his book.
  • Important Haircut: After an exhausting lunch with the Bankheads and deciding she's tired of trying to conform to their standards, Zelda opts to get a '20s Bob Haircut.
  • Large Ham: David Hoflin is very hammy as F Scott Fitzgerald, though he does have the excuse of being drunk in every other scene.
  • Last-Name Basis: Zelda insists on calling the young private she dances with in the first episode by his last name - Landon - because it suits him better.
  • Lethal Chef: Zelda when she has to cook for herself. It gets to the point where she's unfazed by a grease fire in the frying pan.
  • The Makeover: Scott tries to enforce one on Zelda to fit in with the New York ladies. She responds by going Hotter and Sexier to wear a flapper dress.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: The two protagonists are writers, though of course the narrative focuses more on their personal lives.
  • Muse Abuse: Truth in Television. Scott lifted several passages from Zelda's letters and journals to use in his own work.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Zelda resents being seen as just Scott's wife since she's a talented ballerina and writer herself.
  • Odd Name Out: Zelda's two sisters are named Tootsie and Tilde, both T names. Coincidentally she happens to be the Black Sheep of her family.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When meeting one of Scott's stuffy old professors, Zelda makes a show of pretending to be Scott's mistress and excuses them because "I feel the need to copulate".
  • Riches to Rags: Scott's book sales plateau and he can't keep up with Zelda's spending, resulting in them being kicked out of their hotel.
  • Romantic False Lead: The third episode shows Zelda being courted by a young man. As Scott publishes his book at the end of the episode, this means Zelda will honour her agreement to marry him.
  • Southern Belle: Zelda rejects these customs in favour of becoming a flapper instead.
  • The Talk: Tootsie tries to give it to Zelda before her wedding, not knowing that her sister has already done it.
  • The Tease: Zelda is a bit of a tease to the men in town in her teen years.
  • Their First Time: Scott and Zelda do it in the park in the second episode.
  • Time Skip: Episode 3 skips to a year after the war has ended.
  • Wedding Episode: Episode 4 covers Zelda and Scott's wedding in New York. Due to the rushed nature of it, they have to start the ceremony before Zelda's sister Tilde arrives.
  • Wham Shot: In Episode 5, Zelda stops the party by opening her bedroom door and revealing herself completely naked.
    "I'd like to have my new husband to myself for a bit."