Apple TV+’s ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, who becomes famous after hosting a cooking show called ‘Supper at Six.’ Despite its tremendous success and the wonders it does for her, being a TV personality is not what Elizabeth aspired for. She is a scientist and wanted to focus on her research and making groundbreaking discoveries, making a name for herself in the field of Chemistry. However, life takes some unexpected turns, and she finds herself in front of a camera, her reach extending to millions of households in the country.
Considering how realistically the show presents Elizabeth’s life and challenges, you might wonder if there are any similarities she and her cooking show have with a real-life TV personality. Here’s everything you need to know about them. SPOILERS AHEAD
Elizabeth Zott’s Supper at Six is Not a Real Show, But It Was Inspired by 50s Cuisine
‘Lessons in Chemistry’ is based on the book of the same name by Bonnie Garmus, who created the character of Elizabeth Zott and the fictional TV show ‘Supper at Six’ to serve the story’s plot. Garmus came up with Elizabeth’s character while working on her first novel, but back then, it was just a side character who wrote a cookbook called ‘Supper at Six.’ That novel wasn’t published, but years later, when Garmus wrote ‘Lessons in Chemistry,’ she brought back the character and the cookbook, this time as a TV show.
Hosting a cooking show was an important aspect of Elizabeth’s character, which Garmus knew was essential to the plot. When she started writing Elizabeth’s story, the author knew she treated cooking as a science. Hence, her presentation and attitude toward the audience would differ from that of a usual TV presenter. According to Garmus, it was Elizabeth treating her audience with respect that became the driving factor of success for her show.
“These women at home were often dismissed as average housewives and or, you know, plain Janes, average housewives. They were just average. And in fact, they were women just like women today that had plenty of dreams and ambitions, but they couldn’t aspire to very much. So when she took them seriously, they – it was like they were reawakening, and they were starting to remember who they were, too,” the author added.
When it came to bringing ‘Supper at Six’ to the screen, director Sarah Adina Smith revealed that they heavily researched the cuisine and the cooking shows of that time. “American 1950s cuisine is not known to be super great and delicious. Something we talked about a lot is in World War II, women were oftentimes supporting their families and getting out of the home, and then, all of a sudden, the men come back from war, and [the women] are pushed back into the kitchen. A lot of 1950s cuisine was designed as a way to give women convenience and to give them back some of that freedom that they had lost,” she said, talking about the nature of dishes presented in ‘Lessons in Chemistry.’
“What I think is really interesting is Elizabeth is a little bit ahead of her time; she sort of has modern, more fresh, and delicious twists on 1950s cuisine. She’s still very respectful of the idea that women need to find a way to feed their families on a budget, keep them healthy, and have a life of their own,” Smith added. This shows that a lot of thought and research went into creating ‘Supper at Six’ because even though it is fictional, it had to feel real to the audience.