Palm Royale: Kristen Wiig’s Retro Romp Fizzles Despite Stellar Cast

Apple TV+ delivers a retro spectacle with “Palm Royale,” boasting an ensemble cast led by Kristen Wiig, Allison Janney, Laura Dern, and Carol Burnett, all adorned in fabulous ’60s attire. However, while the visual splendor captivates, the series itself fails to fully engage, landing somewhere between comedy and drama without excelling in either.

Wiig stars as Maxine, an outsider striving to infiltrate the elite circles of Palm Beach, Florida, circa 1969. Despite her efforts, she faces relentless rejection from the social elite, led by Janney’s queen bee character, Evelyn. Maxine’s journey takes an unexpected turn when she discovers a connection to the legendary socialite Norma Dellacorte, portrayed by Burnett, who is currently in a coma.

Creator and showrunner Abe Sylvia embraces campiness, infusing the series with catty conflicts and operatic twists reminiscent of a telenovela. While the leading ladies relish in their roles, the pacing feels sluggish, and the humor often falls flat, leaving scenes strained for laughs. Additionally, Wiig’s comedic sensibilities seem misaligned with her character, and Maxine’s relentless pursuit of acceptance becomes tiresome over time.

Despite attempts to address the social turmoil of the era through characters like Dern’s hippie activist Linda, the narrative falls short, relegating most characters to one-dimensional stereotypes. While the cast delivers enjoyable performances and the fashion and wit offer some charm, “Palm Royale” ultimately lacks substance, resembling a flat soda that has lost its fizz.

In the sun-soaked glamour of Palm Beach, “Palm Royale” unfolds as a fizzy soap opera, promising intrigue and scandal beneath its polished veneer. However, beneath the surface, the series struggles to find its footing, failing to fully capitalize on its intriguing premise and talented ensemble cast.

As Maxine, Kristen Wiig brings her signature quirkiness to the role of an outsider determined to ascend the ranks of high society. Yet, despite her efforts, the character’s relentless pursuit of acceptance feels hollow, lacking the depth needed to sustain interest over the course of the series. Additionally, the comedic talents of Wiig and Burnett seem underutilized, with the narrative favoring campiness over genuine wit.

While the series attempts to explore the social dynamics of 1960s America through its characters, including Laura Dern’s hippie activist Linda, these efforts often feel superficial, overshadowed by the exaggerated conflicts and melodrama that dominate the storyline. As a result, “Palm Royale” struggles to resonate beyond its surface-level glamour, ultimately leaving viewers craving more substance.

Despite its shortcomings, “Palm Royale” offers moments of entertainment, particularly through its lavish costume design and lively banter between the characters. However, these fleeting pleasures are not enough to elevate the series above its shortcomings, leaving it with a sour aftertaste that lingers long after the credits roll.

As the series unfolds, viewers are treated to a feast for the eyes with the fabulous fashion of the 1960s on full display. From glamorous cocktail dresses to elegant evening gowns, the wardrobe choices in “Palm Royale” are a visual delight, transporting audiences to a bygone era of sophistication and style. The impeccable costume design adds an extra layer of allure to the show, serving as a captivating backdrop to the characters’ dramatic escapades.

However, despite its aesthetic appeal, “Palm Royale” struggles to strike the right balance between comedy and drama, often veering into over-the-top territory at the expense of genuine emotional depth. While the series aims to capture the glamour and intrigue of high society, it occasionally gets lost in its own melodrama, sacrificing substance for style.

Nevertheless, the cast delivers commendable performances, with Allison Janney’s portrayal of the imperious queen bee Evelyn and Laura Dern’s portrayal of the spirited activist Linda standing out among the ensemble. Their dynamic interactions inject moments of energy and intensity into the narrative, providing glimpses of the series’ potential to engage audiences on a deeper level.

Despite its flaws, “Palm Royale” offers a guilty pleasure escape into the opulent world of Palm Beach, where scandalous secrets and bitter rivalries lurk beneath the surface of polite society. While it may not fully deliver on its promise of a gripping dramedy, it nonetheless offers an entertaining diversion for those seeking a dose of retro glamour and intrigue.
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