Netflix’s ‘Survival of the Thickest’ follows the story of Mavis Beaumont, a 38-year-old fashion stylist whose life is upended after discovering that her boyfriend, Jacque, has been cheating on her. Having spent the past five years of her life with Jacque, Mavis thought they would have a future together. However, his infidelity makes her reconsider her life, and she decides to completely break away from him and make a new life for herself.
The sudden shift in her life brings many challenges, but Mavis faces them with courage, determination, and the help of her closest friends. In between this, she also finds romance. The show presents the realistic struggles of a person trying to make their dreams come true while also looking for love in New York City. If you are wondering whether the character of Mavis is based on a real person, here’s what you need to know.
Is Mavis Beaumont Based on a Real Person?
‘Survival of the Thickest’ is based on a book of essays by Michelle Buteau, who also serves as the series’s co-creator and stars in the lead role. The character of Mavis is partially based on Buteau, a comedian with a very different trajectory than the one Mavis goes through. In an interview with Paste Magazine, Buteau revealed that Mavis is an extension of herself. The TV show draws inspiration from the things that have happened in her life, but she didn’t want it to be an exact replica of hers.
Talking about how much the show resembles her real life, she said: “It was important to create a world outside of it [her life]. There are easter eggs. [The show] is going to be its own thing. Besides the obvious of it being diverse, it really goes back to a lesson. Sometimes it isn’t you that has to catch up to the world; it’s the world that has to catch up to you.”
The title of the show comes from the title of Buteau’s book. Revealing the process behind coming up with it and how it stays true to the story she wants to tell, in the book as well as the show, she said: “I had a bunch of key phrases I always say, I have a lot of isms. I have a full heart but tight jeans. Sometimes I call myself a big titty, freckle face unicorn. I wrote down a bunch of stuff I say all the time. It’s fun running stuff by people. When everyone says yes—from the publishing house to your mother—you go with it.”
When creating the character of Mavis, the most important thing for Buteau was to get the name right. She wanted “a strong name, a name that people around the world could say easily.” She also wanted to incorporate the initials “MB” into it because it’s not just her initials but also her father’s (Michel) and mother’s (Marie). After a lot of thinking, she was struck by the idea of naming the character after her grandmother, Mavis.
“She’s no longer with us, so I’m like, ‘What a great way to celebrate all the things. She’s always on my mind. I have pictures of her everywhere. She was a real spitfire,” Buteau said. While several other names were considered, Mavis Beaumont appeared to be the one that fits the character right. As to charting the protagonist’s journey, Buteau drew upon her own struggles and emotions but fictionalized it to make Mavis her own person.
In the show, Mavis is left wondering about getting married and having children at 38 when she breaks up with her boyfriend. In real life, Buteau enjoys a happily married life with her husband, Gijs van der, with whom she has two children. With all this in mind, we can say that Mavis has some characteristics of Buteau. Still, the writer has crafted a unique journey for the character, something that is more universal and will be found relatable by the audience.