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Summary

  • The book’s Maxine fakes marriage, while the show’s focuses on social hierarchy.
  • The show diverges from the book’s setting and storyline entirely.
  • Different characters and an expanded cast in the show gives some fresh perspectives.
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Apple TV+’s Palm Royale has been making the rounds as one of streaming’s hottest comedy-dramas, and the series takes very loose inspiration from the 2018 novel, Mr. & Mrs. American Pie. Saturday Night Live veteran Kristen Wiig takes on the role of Max Simmons, an outsider determined to break through the upper crust of an exclusive resort club in Palm Beach, Florida following her failed pageant career. While the series was originally going to be called Mrs. American Pie, the name change in April 2023 helped to differentiate it from the American Pie film series.

Beyond differentiating the streaming series from a pre-existing comedy franchise, the new title reflects the fact that Palm Royale is drastically different from Mr. & Mrs. American Pie. From the setting to the general plot to the large ensemble cast, little of the original novel’s DNA made it into Apple TV+’s final product, essentially taking the general personality of the novel’s Maxine Simmons and placing her in an entirely new set of circumstances. Kristen Wiig’s character may ring true to the book, but little else survived the translation to the live-action adaptation.

7 Book Maxine Has To Fake A Marriage And Family

Whereas Palm Royale’s Maxine is more focused on other appearances

Maxine & Douglas Dougie Dellacorte Simmons Clapping At Formal Event In Palm Royale.jpg

In Mr. & Mrs. American Pie, Maxine’s primary goal after being divorced by her husband is to win the novel’s titular pageant. However, the pageant is strictly for happily-married housewives, a status that Maxine is freshly stripped of following the messy scene she makes at her ex-husband’s Thanksgiving party. Luckily, Maxine is able to dream up a crazy scheme — Recruit bar and restaurant owner Robert Hogarth (A close parallel to the Palm Royale‘s Robert Diaz) and the underage Bronski siblings to concoct an entire imaginary family, leaving the judges none the wiser as to her actual marital status.

Meanwhile, Maxine’s circumstances in the show are quite different. Still married to her husband, Douglas, Maxine is left to her own devices at the prestigious Palm Beach Country Club as Douglas travels the globe attending to his duties as an airline executive. Initially spurned by the tight-knit elite of the community, Maxine decides she’ll stop at nothing to integrate herself into the cadre of wealthy women with the help of the personal effects of Douglas’ wealthy former-beauty-queen Aunt, currently in a coma. The series acts as a sort of prequel to the novel, although the timeline doesn’t quite line up.

6 The Series’ Setting Is Completely Different

The book begins with Maxine leaving Palm Beach rather than entering it

Evelyn Rollins & Raquel Sitting By The Pool Reading The Paper In Palm Royale.jpg

True to its name, the Palm Royale TV show is indeed set within the pastel wonderland of 1960s Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Royale was indeed filmed in Florida, granting the atmosphere of the fictional Palm Royale country club a very real sense of character as a gauche retreat for the glamorous well-to-do housewives of the era. It’s within this context that Maxine is forced to adapt and overcome her competition, as well as her own insecurities, carving out a niche for herself among the club’s illustrious denizens.

In Mr. & Mrs. American Pie, Maxine instead begins her journey in Palm Beach, but is forced into exile upon her very public and very sloppy divorce with Douglas. Instead, Maxine spends most of her time in the book within the confines of Douglas’ old condo in Scottsdale, Arizona, in which she learns about and participates in the Mr. and Mrs. American Pie contest. The story also begins a good deal later, in the year 1969, meaning that the visuals of this stage in Maxine’s life will be remarkably different should Apple TV+ decide to move forward in the series’ timeline.

5 The Two Roberts Are Completely Different Characters

Robert Hogarth and Robert Diaz differ in personality and backstory

Ricky Martin As Robert In Palm Royale.jpg

Both stories featuring Maxine prominently feature a supporting character named Robert. That being said, the circumstances and lengths of his involvement vary dramatically. In Mr. & Mrs. American Pie, Robert serves as the titular Mr. American Pie to Maxine, allowing her to enter the contest by way of a surrogate husband. Strangely, Robert and Maxine don’t interact much in the book despite this fact, and the few times they do paint a very different picture of Robert Diaz’s personality compared to Robert Hogarth’s.

The series’ Robert Hogarth was retroactively inserted into Maxine’s life earlier than he appears in the novel, placing him in Palm Beach at the same time as Maxine. In the show, Robert Diaz is The Palm Royale’s faithful bartender rather than the owner and proprietor of a tavern in Arizona. Beyond that, he has a closer relationship with Douglas’ family, acting as a live-in caretaker for Norma while staying in the family’s poolhouse. The relationship between the two is one of the sweetest opportunities the show was able to create by eschewing the need to follow the book’s timeline beat-for-beat.

4 Norma Is Essentially A Brand-New Character

Palm Royale has Norma up and about

Carol Burnett As Norma Dellacorte In Palm Royale Looking Confused.jpg

In Mr. & Mrs. American Pie, Norma is something of a background character. A former high-society socialite herself and fabulously wealthy “Queen of the Season”, Norma represents the sort of class and dignity Maxine wants to embody. In the novel, however, she’s only ever really mentioned, serving more as a background context for Douglas’ own views than anything else. Palm Royale opted to not only include Norma, but expand on her character, establishing her as the undisputed real queen of Palm Beach unfortunately indisposed by a medical condition.

Norma winds up being one of the shining stars of Palm Royale‘s diverse cast. Though she’s suffered from an embolism at the start of the series, resulting in a tragic coma that takes her out of comission, Palm Royale gives a few glimpses of Norma in action, revealing what the legendary pageant queen was really like. Norma is brilliantly played by 90-year-old Carol Burnette, a legendary actress and comedian best known for her work on her own variety comedy show The Carol Burnett Show.

3 The Show Has An Expanded Cast Of Socialites

The novel never focused much on Maxine’s competition

Palm Royale Where Was It Filmed.jpg

Compared to Palm Royale, Mr. & Mrs. American Pie didn’t focus on quite so large a roster of characters. While Maxine, Robert, and their imaginary children, Chuck and Dawn Bronski, are given plenty of “screen” time, not as much focus is put on Maxine’s competition within the Mr. and Mrs. American Pie contest. They certainly make appearances, with snide remarks and subtle ribbing, but the residents of Scottsdale, Arizona aren’t as fleshed out as those of The Palm Royale Country Club.

In Palm Royale, audiences are treated to an expanded cast that provides a little more context for Maxine’s desire to fit in and present herself as the ultimate in Floridian domesticity. The socialites of the show consist primarily of Evelyn Rollins, Dinah Donahue, Mary Jones Davidsoul, and Raquel. Evelyn is the definitive queen bee of the group, outwardly distrustful of Maxine while being desperate to hold on to her crown as The Palm Royale’s number one. Her biggest competition is Dinah Donahue, a young philanthropist only held back by her infidelity.

Maxine manages to find an unlikely ally in Linda, a role inhabited expertly by Laura Dern. Linda is a former member of Palm Beach’s high society that re-focused her life on more important things, finding more time for her activism as a feminist. While her deep-rooted beliefs clash with Maxine’s, she still provides a valuable source of insight for her when it comes to infiltrating the stubborn club members’ ranks. The socialites are rounded out by Mary Jones Davidsoul, a charity-oriented member of the group, and Raquel, another judgmental club member.

2 Maxine Has A Different Home State

An important aspect of Maxine’s origin is up for debate between the show and the book

Maxine & Douglas Dellacorte Simmons On The Phone With Each Other In Palm Royale.jpg

While Maxine may start out in different places in Palm Royale and Mr. & Mrs. American Pie, her home state is also iterated upon in the TV show compared to the book. In the book, Maxine originally comes from the wealthy area of San Bernadino, California, giving her something of a prestigious edge on the competition by the time of the Mr. and Mrs. American Pie contest. However, Palm Royale opted to switch up Maxine’s hometown for the show.

In the Apple TV+ series, Maxine now hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s described that she met Doug there, who falls in love with her as she competes for the title of Miss Chattanooga. By far a less desirable origin than San Bernadino, the change to give Maxine some Southern roots helps to further stratify her from the lofty annals of the Palm Royale Country Club. Whereas San Bernadino may have impressed them, Chattanooga is just one more superficial strike against Maxine in the eyes of Evelyn and her gang.

1 Maxine’s Actual Status As A Beauty Queen Is Different

While both the show and book has her compete, her the outcome of her pageantry is different

Palm Royale

In Mr. & Mrs. American Pie, Maxine actually does have a successful history in pageantry, taking home the coveted title of Miss San Bernardino. This almost makes it hard to believe that the character would have any difficulty winning a pageant like the Mr. and Mrs. American Pie contest, let alone merely qualifying for it. Because of this, the crux of the novel revolves around Maxine’s immediate disqualification due to being divorced, something she has to overcome with trickery and help from her friends.

Palm Royale instead further alienates Maxine from the acceptance of the Palm Royale country club by giving her a worse track record as a beauty queen. While Maxine competed in Mrs. Chattanooga, she didn’t take home the prize, though her run for the crown did put her in the sights of her husband, Doug, who was serving as a judge for the contest at the time. It’s safe to say that this change was made to further isolate Maxine from acceptance within the Palm Royale country club, making her struggle all the more palpable as the series progresses.



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