Where Is 'Dumplin'' Set? The Musical Comedy Delves Into Southern Traditions
If you're interested in Jennifer Aniston, Dolly Parton, and pageants, chances are you're ready to check out Dumplin', a Netflix film landing on the streaming site Dec. 7. The film follows Willowdean "Will" Dickson, who is referred to by her eponymous nickname by her former beauty queen mother (Aniston). It looks like a delightful musical comedy with a lot of heart, and plenty of life-affirming lessons. But one thing that's not explicitly obvious is where is Dumplin' set.
Despite not being confirmed in the trailer, the answer comes straight from the very end of the film's logline:
Dumplin' (Danielle Macdonald) is the plus-size, teenage daughter of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston), who signs up for her mom's pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.
However, Dumplin' was filmed in Atlanta (as so many movies are these days), not the Lone Star state. The shoot took place in Georgia in August of 2017, and from the trailer, it appears to take place during warmer months -- Willowdean and her best friend, Ellen, are floating in a pool, and Will refers to the upcoming "pageant season." Traditionally, pageant season begins around the end of summer, so this fits with the filming time. (Then again, in the south, it's generally pretty hot out kind of all the time.)
Right off the bat, the southern accents give away a general location. And beauty pageants are inherently associated with the south. Several years ago, Jezebel took a stab at answering the question, "Why are so many pageant winners from the south?" Oddly enough, the biggest U.S. competition, Miss America, was founded in Atlantic City, and it wasn't until the 1950s that southern women began to dominate the pageant circuit. There are a lot of reasons explored in the article: Does it have to do with valuing traditions? With the focus on femininity and being proper? Or, as one source suggested, is it because of agriculture (seriously)?
More clues are available in the trailer, if you look closely enough. Aniston's Rosie is seen MCing at various pageants, including "Miss Teen Bluebonnet" (the state flower of Texas) and "Miss Teen Sweetwater", which is a small town west of Dallas. Willowdean also says that the drag show they attend is "the closest thing you can get to Dolly Parton around here," in reference to the iconic Country music queen.
Every character also has a pitch-perfect southern accent, none of which are natural to the actors playing them. Aniston doesn't have a Texas drawl naturally, which makes sense given that she's a Los Angeles native who grew up in New York City. Danielle Macdonald, who plays Willowdean, hails from Australia, but you wouldn't guess it from her flawless Texas twang. Even the actress playing Ellen is trying out a new sound: Odeya Rush is Israeli, though she did live in Alabama for a time as a child. Yet all are believable as southern belles — or, in Willowdean's case, a country girl rebel with a body positive cause.
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