The TV Ate My Wardrobe Masters of Sex coverage leans heavily towards costume design elements and as this first episode of the new season is also costume designer Ane Crabtree’s last episode on the show I want to focus on this aspect of this premiere. So there will be some plot discussion, but maybe not as much as previous reviews.
First thing to take note of is the time jump as season 2 ended in early 1961 and the very useful title card at the start of “Parliament of Owls” tells us it is now 1965. This means bigger hair, more pants and patterns. It isn’t a completely different change style wise with Libby still sticking to pastels and Virginia’s bow and button details remain intact (if not a little bigger in places) and the most notable difference is Virginia’s children who are now fully fledged teenagers (and different actors). The teens are used in this opening episode as a way to heighten conflict and so far they have proved to be pesky to both the adults and the audience. Think more Kim Bauer than Paige Jennings.
Starting with my favorite Virginia look from the episode in her oh so relaxed and chic combination of capri pants and a green shirt tied up in the middle signifying she is on vacation. Despite it being far from a chilled out break with so many different points of tension Virginia still manages to look the part in her sun hat and sunglasses. In fact you could wear this ensemble today and not look out of place.
A closer look at the pair:
Libby on the other hand looks rigid and formal in her pale blue dress and while it is probably on trend for the time, the contrast between the two women and how comfortable they are in their skin is palpable.
Take Libby’s reaction when she sees Virginia hula dancing with Virginia’s daughter Jenny (Libby and Bill now have three children and the title card at the end informs us that everything about the kids is “entirely fictitious”).
While Libby looks somewhat uptight here (although I love the gold belt detail) for their lakeside location, the outfit from the previous day is far more relaxed and shows just how much Virginia and Bill’s arrival has impacted her mental state.
This reads as far more playful and vacation mom with her headscarf and gingham (which is so on point this season as Lizzy Caplan showed off on Jimmy Kimmel Live! recently). It is a very put together outfit and fits in with this whole ideal family that Libby is trying to maintain; the cracks are clear and even though she thinks it is best to put on a happy family front it is far more likely to be detrimental to the children.
There has always is a lot red, blue and white in Virginia’s wardrobe and she is killing it with her headscarf choice here which is the perfect accessory for a road trip in an MG convertible. Plus so many excellent side eye looks in Bill’s direction.
It is important to remember that even though there has been a significant time jump when it comes to personal style evolution it doesn’t tend to be all that dramatic when you are an adult, especially if you have found a look you are comfortable with and I would say Virginia has done just this.
Bill’s version of vacay dressing is removing his bow tie and putting on a chunky knit cardigan that Olivia Pope would drink a whole lot of wine in.
Virginia’s bedwear screams winter rather than a warm weekend at the lake and I wonder if she is trying to be as unalluring as possible because even when a secret affair is not as secret as you think, you probably don’t want to be hooking up when the wife and all of your kids are under the same roof. This is the most forward we have seen Libby about this whole setup and again they are wearing garments that play on how different they are with Libby being the surprisingly provocative one in this conversation.
They do share one thing in this bizarre friendship and that is Bill Masters; for some reason all I can think about is the Princess Diana interview where she talks about there being three people in her marriage.
There is a time jump within a time jump in this episode as the narrative moves between the presentation Bill and Virginia are giving to the press and the time at the lake when they have received the first galleys of their book. Their book is released in 1966, which means another year looms on the horizon.
I would be remiss if I didn’t show this shot of Virginia getting ready, practicing her talking points and eating breakfast because it is a perfect showcase of the foundation garments which I discuss in detail over at Flavorwire.
A well put together lady suit and a bathroom revelation with Bill putting the unzipped skirt and Virginia’s throwing up together to equal pregnant. After all the talk of making sure her daughter doesn’t end up pregnant it is Virginia who ends up in the family way. Super awkward and a story development that I’m not sure how I feel about.
I’m looking forward to seeing Ane Crabtree’s work on the forthcoming HBO show Westworld and I am intrigued to see how Masters of Sex will progress now that both feet are firmly in the 1960s.