Tag Archives: 1950s

Best of TV Costuming 2014 and The Shows I Finally Watched

29 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2014″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

2014 was the year I finally started watching Game of Thrones and it was the one gaping hole in my “shows that are huge that everyone talks about” list. However, what I want to focus on today is a pair of shows from the “cancelled too soon” brigade that have long been on my “why haven’t I watched these yet?” list (I have a lot of lists).

Pushing Daisies and The Hour are tonally different with one inhabiting a heightened reality with the other being very much grounded in this world; Pushing Daises is heavily influenced in its visuals by the period The Hour is set in with a playful twist on 1950s style. The costume design of both is something I was instantly drawn to and vibrant color is a strong feature on Pushing Daisies with both sets and wardrobe dripping in Technicolor. This isn’t to say The Hour is a dreary palette of greys and beige as Marnie’s sweet pastel frocks and Bel’s block color suits dismiss this notion.

Bel the hour Marnie The HourWhen you come to a show late and one that has been recommended countless times there is a worry it won’t live up to expectation and you just won’t get it. Fear not as the only reaction I had to these two shows was devastation there isn’t more than two seasons of each and joy to finally see what everyone has been raving about. There is an unearned feeling of sadness that comes from watching something which had an early cancellation as I don’t necessarily believe I have the same right to be angry that there is no more when I didn’t watch it when it aired. Instead I will be both mad at myself for not getting to it when it was originally on and still lament this premature end.

It is easy to romanticize the 1950s thanks to the styling; the costuming of The Hour and the influence of this period on Pushing Daisies has me clamoring for pretty frocks with nipped in waists. And hats. So many great lady hats in both shows.* There is also a lot of bad things about this post-war period and The Hour covers various panics from this period including the spy and nuclear war variety. Racism and sexism are prevalent throughout and homophobia extends to being criminally prosecuted if you are caught in a homosexual act. So while I love 50s fashion and costume designer Suzanne Cave did an excellent job of recreating this period, it is good to be reminded of the horror beyond the hooped skirts.

*Still dreaming of the day I get a Janet Snakehole pillbox hat

Chuck Pushing DaisiesDrawing comparisons between the two aside from finally watching them both this year and a shared 50s style isn’t as hard as you may think when it comes to discussing FEELINGS. Yep I’m talking about shipping and the obstacles for the main couples at play. Pushing Daisies takes the central pairing and gets them together in the first episode; this is no will they/won’t they. Instead they face an entirely different challenge as they can say exactly how they feel, but can’t physically touch each other without a barrier between them. Ah the perils of bringing people back to life with one touch and killing them all over again with another one. The Hour is a more traditional unrequited love deal as Freddie’s love for Bel is apparent from episode 1 and she takes a little longer to get there.

But hey look how great they look at the Christmas party from season 2 and this amazing shade of blue on Bel:

Bel and Freddie S2Unlike The Hour which is actually set in the 1950s, Pushing Daisies takes its costuming cues from a variety of periods with Chuck’s attire leaning towards a hippie vibe at points. Basically anything from the mid portion of the twentieth century and it takes on the visual richness you would expect from the mind of Bryan Fuller.

And look how adorable they are:

Pushing Daisies Chuck and NedSometimes once is enough but another thing these shows share is they are now part of my not so long list of DVDs I like to stick on at bedtime and fall asleep to. The sleep part sounds like a disservice, however it reveals how much comfort they bring and I’m always glad to add something to my rotation because otherwise my Rear Window DVD is going to get burnt out.

Now to figure out what to add to the 2015 rewind project. All suggestions welcome. Otherwise I will start my much thought over Gossip Girl rewatch and I’m not sure I am ready for that.

Masters of Sex 2.06 “Blackbird” Review: “Lilantha”

18 Aug

Intimacy comes in a variety of ways far beyond the study at the center of Masters of Sex and in “Blackbird” we see multiple characters wrestling with the truth behind certain relationships. This takes place in both a personal and professional setting as the two overlap in several cases; new lows are hit and life changing acknowledgements are proclaimed. Change is coming and there is of course resistance, particularly when there are different agendas at play. While Bill claims he will let the facts speak for themselves, when his own personal space is penetrated by the press he pushes back in the most abhorrent way and he’s not the only one who goes to extreme lengths this week.*

*While watching this episode and seeing the depiction of racial tension in 1950s St. Louis, Missouri it is incredibly bleak spotting similarities and the lack of progress with what is happening right now in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Masters of Sex 2.06 LilanthaI’ve talked a lot about Virginia and Lillian as the best female friendship on television and “Blackbird” cements this assertion (and I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up crying while I type this). Lillian references Virginia’s inability to take no for an answer – I realized while watching this that there is a slightly Leslie Knope steamroller like quality to Virginia – and by the end of the episode Virginia has learned that there is a point where you stop pushing someone. Lillian decides to end her treatment, which is met with resistance by Virginia as she believes there is still plenty to fight for. At this point Lillian is performing this fighter charade for Virginia “I can’t do this for you. I tried, but I’m done” (aaaaand the screen just went blurry as I typed that).

Between Lillian and Bill, Virginia has opened herself up emotionally in a way that she can’t quite comprehend and she tearfully explains to Bill that she never lets anyone in the way she has done with Lillian emphasizing “She knows me.” Virginia doesn’t do close emotional relationships (remember she locked up her heart a long time ago) and Bill points out that the reason Virginia didn’t see it coming is because Lillian is a woman. Yes we have seen Virginia with other female friends, well Jane, but none this intimate. They are of course complete opposites and yet they provide that something the other has been missing.

Like Virginia, Lillian has erected walls and she tells Virginia over wine that she has missed out on being loved. Lillian tells a story of her cotillion, the cruel name she was called – giraffe as she was both tall and spotty – and how a little piece of us is the girl we were at 13 (which I kind of agree with). So while Lillian hasn’t experienced romantic love, this here on this sofa and later when Virginia tucks her in bed is love. Lillian is also the only one who can get Virginia to accept that Bill loves her, even if this comes with a feigned shocked expression followed by eye acknowledgement. If this episode was just these two women sitting on the sofa drinking and telling stories I would be more than happy. Alas, the end is here and Virginia puts Lillian to bed in the same way she does her children; by drawing words on her forehead. What really slays me in this scene is Virginia telling Lillian she sees “constellations in these freckles” including the previously undiscovered “Lilantha” a “Warrior princess, strong and brave” and if I wasn’t already a wreck then this line would tip me over the edge “But she knew who she was. And that is why she burns so brightly, you can always spot her in the sky.”

Earlier Virginia has told Lillian she will take care of the letter to her family and that she will ensure that her body goes to science so she can maybe help with the cause she has spent so long on beyond her death. Virginia returns to Lillian’s house to pick up the letter and finds her in bed struggling to breathe after she has taken a bottle of sleeping pills. Virginia’s natural reaction is to call 911 and halfway through the call as she looks at her friend she hangs up, recognizing this isn’t her fight. Instead she lies down next to Lillian and makes sure she isn’t alone in her final moments.

Masters of Sex 2.06 Bill and VirginiaWhen Bill and Virginia have sex they don’t kiss, if they did then they might have to admit to themselves and each other that there is something here that goes far beyond research. This point is emphasized in the opening scene and while it might seem like a bit too on the nose for them to reference this in such an overt way, I’m glad they did as I haven’t actually noticed before that they don’t kiss (I’m not sure if this makes me horribly unobservant or if my brain is filling in the gap). So when this moment takes place it’s not while they are sleeping together, instead it comes in at a point of vulnerability as Virginia is opening herself up rather than closing herself off. We don’t see anything beyond the kiss so it’s unclear if it leads to anything else, the way I read it is that it is just the kiss and nothing more.

This is a strong and effective scene; the “I know you” and everything that comes before and after really underlines everything this relationship is about. One aspect that works incredibly well is how the camera pushes in so slowly starting at a distance and ending in a close up. It’s like we are Bill and Lillian sneaking past Virginia’s carefully constructed walls.

The red of Virginia’s blouse in this scene is in contrast to the blue in her later scenes with Lillian; one suggests passion while the other is nurturing and both represent the two sides of Virginia we see in her relationships with these two characters.

Masters of Sex 2.06 MorganBill’s being all Mr Sensitive with Virginia, however when things get a little too personal with the story reporter Morgan Hogue is writing he ends up in a scenario he has never found himself in. Morgan wants to talk about Bill’s past and his recent estrangement from the white medical community; this is not the angle Bill wants as it reveals far too much about whom he is and is a narrative he finds uncomfortable. To kill the story Bill threatens the editor of this newspaper with made up research findings that will paint black people in a negative light. It’s repugnant and so unlike the Bill we have seen admonishing Libby for her recent racist actions. Bill is for what it is worth disgusted at himself for stooping to this tactic telling Hendricks that he has never misrepresented his work like this. Hendricks refers to Bill’s methods as coming from a desperate place, but it still leaves a nasty taste behind and Hendricks fires him as this pairing is not going to bring the change that either of them is striving for; Bill needs to go out on his own as Hendricks did.

Masters of Sex 2.06 LibbyThese last few weeks I have been pretty much watching Libby scenes through my fingers as she continues her descent into obsession and paranoia going from watching Coral and Robert to getting a police check on Robert. Banning Robert from picking Coral up leads to following them to their home and Robert confronts Libby as she’s figuring out where Coral lives. Robert tells Libby that he’s Coral’s brother (they haven’t different surnames) revealing Coral’s ruse for getting under Libby’s skin (which Libby deserved in that moment). Libby has cut her leg, something Robert notices and asks if he can help her. Libby accepts this aid for a moment and then things get too personal for her and she overreacts by firing Coral and fleeing the scene. Later she caresses that cut and smokes in the darkness; this act of care and intimacy has stirred something in Libby. Part of her obsession with Coral and Robert is from this factor of closeness that is absent in her own relationship and while this doesn’t excuse Libby behavior and prejudice, it goes some of the way to explain her actions. I worry they have pushed Libby too far into this corner and as I mentioned last week it comes across as an attempt to make Libby unlikeable so as an audience we feel less sympathy for her and her loveless marriage.

Masters of Sex 2.06 awkward double dateWhile I’m on the subject of loveless marriages “Care is what you have for a stray dog you find in the road. Love is what you have with someone you share your bed with.” These words by Gene to Betty suggest that this relationship has come to an end as Gene finds out the biggest secret Betty has been keeping. Gene’s friend Al is beyond clueless as even though he witnessed the kiss between Helen and Betty last week he doesn’t connect that this is romantic as his only experience of lesbians is a stereotype; neither Betty or Helen look like this so they can’t possibly be. This also goes back to what Betty said about them not being accepted by this community as they don’t fit this description. Gene figures it out and while he thought Betty’s outburst was because she was into Al – he tells a sad story about what it’s been like to double date with Al in the past – when Al mentions the kiss he instantly knows who Betty’s heart belongs to. Betty thinks that she can make it work with both Helen and Gene as they have money now and “money means options.” They already live an unconventional life and they can maintain afternoon hookups as long as Helen is willing to go along with this. Helen isn’t content with being the mistress in this set up and plays Betty at her game with an impromptu proposal to Al.

Masters of Sex 2.06 Betty and GeneWhile Betty is okay with performing this charade and she really does care for Gene as she suggests, it’s not enough. For Gene he could get passed the kids lie and he doesn’t want to adopt, he tells Betty “You’re enough.” The problem is that Gene is not enough for Betty and he never will be. An unconventional set up yes, but one that isn’t fair to anyone involved. Helen pushed her point with the Al proposal and Gene confrontation with Betty about truth shows that he can’t play this game. Ultimately I don’t think Betty can either and while she has got used to comfortable living and an incredible wardrobe she owes it to Gene, Helen , Al and herself to own her truth.

Masters of Sex 2.06 BettyAs I’m on the subject of Betty frocks here is another incredible one. There is nothing quiet or subdued about either Betty or Helen’s clothing choices. They clash at times in both color and pattern as they clash in their methods of continuing their relationship. Even their underwear is in stark contrast as Betty wears the white of innocence and Helen’s strapless basque is in super sexy black. Now that Betty is no longer getting ‘fertility’ treatments from Bill this story is now rather separate to the overall narrative and I wonder how they will converge again in the future. Sarah Silverman has been a terrific addition and I hope we get to see more of this relationship as we move forward.

This episode marks the halfway point of season 2 and it has an end of chapter like feel to it as Bill realizes that he can no longer work in a hospital if he wants to continue his work. Other characters hit low points (Libby I’m looking at you), relationships hit their natural breaking point as secrets are revealed and walls are broken down exposing a whole new set of raw emotions. Bill discovers at the end of the episode that maybe he doesn’t know Virginia as well as the thought he did as when he turns to her first after yet another sacking he finds her ‘beau’ on the doorstep. This is a guy Virginia has been dating for a couple of months and like Bill we are only just finding out about this relationship. Bill stumbles away having what appears to be a panic attack and the Virginia/Bill merry-go-round continues to spin.

Masters of Sex 2.04 “Dirty Jobs” Review: “Is It Worth It?”

4 Aug

Dr. Austin Langham spent so long lying to cover up his rampant philandering that he has since become the Masters of Sex truthsayer after his wife so very publicly dumped him in the season premiere. Now Austin is experiencing the bachelor lifestyle without the burden of his lies – it’s not all good as he’s on a diet of chips for dinner and he misses his kids – and he’s got pearls of wisdom to share; impacting the various other characters who are withholding or spinning a yarn that is further from the truth than they would like to believe. If the truth can set you free, why not return the favor?

Masters of Sex 2.04 AustinTruth and trust are intrinsically linked; the conflict at the heart of “Dirty Jobs” and the show in general is down to the walls these characters have erected to protect themselves. Instead it just leads to more heartbreak. Last week’s incredible episode “Fight” saw Virginia and Bill slowly let their guard down with each other sharing pieces of them that were previously off limits and yet they still left the hotel room playing the same roles and insisting that it’s about “the work” and nothing more. Until they can both accept that this relationship runs deeper than that to not only themselves, but each other they are going to continue to struggle. Austin can see through Virginia’s very well told story detailing why she was in the hotel with Bill and her reasons for quitting the study the previous year because even though she talks a good talk, certain intimate actions Austin has witnessed like fixing Bill’s bow tie have betrayed her.

One person Austin can’t detect is lying is Lillian as he’s so excited to find someone to share his Virginia/Bill news with that he doesn’t detect that moment where Lillian’s disappoint betrays her lack of knowledge about this relationship. Virginia has been Lillian’s confidant since they bonded on a bus trip last season and Lillian disclosed her cancer secret; now it feels like Lillian has shared everything and has got nothing in return. Lillian gives Virginia the opportunity to open up about what she keeps closest to her heart and when Virginia claims there is nothing to confess this feels like an ultimate betrayal; Lillian even disclosed an academic cheating story and nope Virginia’s all “I’m not that interesting.” It’s not surprising Virginia says nothing as she can’t even admit it to herself, except in her dreams where she is haunted by the title of mistress despite the white coat and the very real research they are doing.

Masters of Sex 2.04 presenting the workLillian reacts to this in an extreme way and showing just how deeply this has cut her; she gives away her research that she worked so hard on to the man she named the test after and she won’t even get her own name on the study. For Virginia getting credit for the work she has done is important and part of this is because she has earned it, the other reason is so people can see that she is more than just a ‘mistress.’ When Lillian and Virginia present the work they are dressed alike, down to the high collar and similar shades of blue. The glaring difference is that one of them is in a white coat and the more subtle visual cue is that Virginia’s blouse is prettier and more feminine with bow and pleat detail. Lillian is all about unfussy clothing so that her gender doesn’t come into play in a field dominated by men. In Virginia’s dream she is wearing a white coat, plus her hair is pulled back a la Lillian and yet there is still this nagging voice that calls her mistress.

Masters of Sex 2.04 VirginiaIn Virginia’s working and personal relationships with Bill and Lillian there is a power struggle as Virginia’s influence has made both doctors open up more than they have ever done before, but she is reticent to do the same. Her heart is still locked in that box. They in turn have all the power when it comes to their research so Lillian is well within her rights to give away the work without consulting Virginia, no matter how much she has contributed. Bill can carry on working on the sex study in a hospital without Virginia because he’s the one with the MD and his boss can’t entertain the notion that she is legitimately important to the study. Greathouse thinks that Bill and Virginia’s relationship is like his and Barbs, however Virginia can do the work, whereas Barbs is struggling. Bill even loses a participant because there is no female partner and there are certain things like warming Ulysses that Bill forgets to do.

Instead now he is surrounded by frat boy mentality and when his ploys to get Greathouse to stay away fail – warning him that there might be transference in the observation room (the actual excuse Bill and Virginia used with each other when they first felt something) and pretending there will be “old men masturbating” as the test subjects – he can’t keep his composure shoving Chinese food into one doctor’s mouth forcefully and landing two blows to Dr Greathouse showing the boxing prowess Bill hinted at last week. And he’s fired all over again.

Masters of Sex 2.04 Bill and LibbyStruggles come in all different forms this week and Libby’s attempts to give reason to Bill’s behavior around baby Johnny involves magazine articles that point to disruption as being the heart of the issue. Bill is incredibly calm and reasonable putting on his best doctor voice when Libby freaks out about the lice that might be in the house – they’re “just a few harmless insects” – and he also uses this tone when pointing out that Coral is right about it being unlikely that the lice came from her. When he’s just with Libby this is fine and she talks about their strength as team, with Coral it’s like an affront and as if they are ganging up on her. This is not Libby’s best self and her patronizing tone when she corrects Coral’s pronunciation is superseded in its awfulness by the way she addresses her employee using the lice treatment shampoo. Coral clearly can’t afford to lose this job and so in the end she succumbs to the hair washing humiliation and because Libby claims she can’t trust her to do it herself she insists on doing it in their bathroom right now. Libby gives Coral extra money to get her hair done in a move to make her feel like she hasn’t done anything wrong, but these scenes make for uncomfortable viewing as the power disparity is apparent and Libby’s ‘helpful’ actions often come after Coral has shown how good she is with the baby; it’s a way for Libby to assert her dominance.

Libby flips out when she finds out from someone else that Bill has lost another job as a result of the study – when Libby is asked for juicy sex study secrets she calls it ‘boring’ because she’s never really been on the inner circle even when she did help out – and she’s concerned that he’s so blinded by this that he is neglecting his role as father and husband. This provokes an unexpected emotional response that surprises Libby to the point that her rage subsides immediately as she never gets to see Bill in a vulnerable state.

To his credit Bill does go out and get a new hospital job immediately; Austin’s visit must have had an impact. Austin asks Bill if his relationship with Virginia is worth risking what he has (Libby is framed in the window behind them throughout their conversation) and while Virginia is so intrinsically linked to the work and so therefore she is, I also think that Bill cares a great deal for his family. Even if he is terrified of his son (and the kind of father he will be). Does Austin overstep boundaries in “Dirty Jobs?” Perhaps, but he doesn’t have an ulterior motive or personal agenda beyond stopping someone else from making his mistake and Teddy Sears really does have amazing chemistry with every character he comes into contact with. I also think he was highly motivated by a good home cooked dinner that he knew he would get if he dropped by at this hour.

Masters of Sex 2.04 BettyOne ongoing lie this season has been Betty’s ‘fertility treatments’ with Bill being the most reluctant participant in this charade. It could only go on for so long really and Betty’s big secret came tumbling out after she asked for one lie too many. It wasn’t Bill entirely who revealed the truth, but he definitely pushed for it after Betty asked him to tell Gene that he is the sterile one. Of course Bill has lied about this in the past to protect himself when he told Libby that it was her with the fertility issue. Double standards Bill.

Betty talks at the dinner table about Betty Crocker being a phony and a concept cooked up to sell products – Gene mentions that it was the invention of a woman – opening herself up to scorn from Gene about her own deception. Gene has his own secret and as part of this own love lie he sticks with the meeting Betty at church story, when really he met her at the brothel. Talk about Madonna/whore complex even if Gene was not under the illusion that Betty is a “good Christian girl.” Can this relationship survive full disclosure? In fact it is one sided full disclosure as there is still the matter of Helen, the real love of Betty’s life.

Masters of Sex 2.04 Lillian and VirginiaCircling back to Virginia (wearing an incredible sweater) and the notion of doing things alone after failures in her relationships with Lillian and Bill; both Bill and Lillian have let Virginia down and so much so that she tells her kids that “Everything that is worth doing you have to do on your own.” It’s a pretty pessimistic lesson and it looks like Virginia just bought a bigger padlock for the box that is housing her heart. Virginia receives some unsolicited advice from her Cal-O-Metric boss after Virginia has emphatically stated “I already have a career” and she is told in a rather sarcastic tone “maybe you’re special” when it comes to her dreams. This is enough to put a dampener on everything and coupled with her actual dream that opens “Dirty Jobs” Virginia ends the episode is a less optimistic place. By selling the diet pills to women she’s also spreading some of this misery by targeting people she met a year ago on the street outside their homes and even if she isn’t sticking to the script she’s still making people feel bad about how they look.

If you’re going to set the truth free, then it has to be the whole truth as otherwise you might end up miserable and wanting to go at it alone.

Summer Rewind: The Hour

23 Jul

The summer TV schedule isn’t as light as it once was and so it can be harder to squeeze in catch up projects of recent and not so long ago shows you missed. Last year I blasted through Scandal and took a slightly longer route with The Comeback, pairing a current show dominating discussion with one that is often featured on “Canceled Too Soon” lists (The Comeback is making its own comeback much to my delight in November). In a somewhat unplanned decision this has been repeated this year, first with Game of Thrones taking the Scandal position followed by the 2011 BBC 2 series The Hour.

Why I didn’t watch The Hour when it first aired is a bit of a mystery as it has all the elements that I find appealing – great cast, a writer I admire, a 1950s setting, fantastic looking costumes and a spy plot – and it’s even more curious as to why it has taken me so long to get to it. Yesterday I contemplated a Gossip Girl rewatch (I blame Preserve and this incredible Leighton Meester op-ed) and instead decided it was time to start The Hour as the boxset had been sitting on my desk untouched for a week. The length of the show (a total of 12 episodes) as it was pointed out to me on Twitter made the choice a no-brainer. And I’m so glad I did as less than 24 hours later I have finished season 1; it’s love.

Drooling over the costume design and giving out Diane Lockhart broach accessorizing points has occurred throughout these first six episodes and there will be a separate post dedicated to costuming. A more general approach to the first season is how I will be tackling The Hour today and there are some slight spoilers throughout.

The Hour cast shotIt’s 1956 and the world is feeling pretty unstable; the Cold War rages on and there is political unrest across the globe. These larger events are told through a new BBC news program which distills the events of the week into “The Hour.” The Suez Crisis frames much of the first season and just like a current HBO show it uses real events to infuse tension into the story as we see how the characters respond to the big story.

Unlike The Newsroom it doesn’t feel like it is preaching or attempting to teach in a condescending manner. This might have something to do with the time frame as there are only going to be a certain number of viewers who remember the Suez Crisis whereas you can all but guarantee that the BP oil spill or 9/11 are relatively fresh memories for The Newsroom’s audience. One other notable difference is The Hour is created and written by Abi Morgan, whereas Aaron Sorkin is at the helm of The Newsroom; a repeated criticism of Sorkin’s recent project is the treatment of the female characters and while The Hour is set in a time where sexism was far more inherent, it comes across as the more enlightened of the two. Bel still faces comments and assumptions based on her gender, but she’s allowed to make mistakes without looking like an idiot. No they don’t have email in The Hour, but I bet they wouldn’t pull the same stunt as MacKenzie’s “send all” error. Comparison time over.

The HourGetting accurate information when reporting the news is still not an easy task in 2014, even harder in 1956 without the technology that can hinder as much as help in the present day. The phone is one of the most reliable forms they have in The Hour and seeing reels of film getting cut together evokes nostalgic feelings for a form that was in no doubt way more of faff. And yet there is something glorious about seeing the individual frames.

Idealism, cynicism and pragmatism create a constant push/pull between the three leads; while the establishment they work for is dedicated to an impartial position there is still a rigid power system in place that threatens to censor and assert control. Freddie’s tenacity and drive to find the truth has the potential to destroy everything they have all worked towards and there are other sinister operatives at play with a mole in the BBC (*sidenote* thanks to a saturation of moles on 24 I often roll my eyes at this plot point, I did think it was well executed here and fits the cloak and dagger nature of the time period). What drives these characters varies and ambition is far more important to Dominic West’s Hector than the pursuit of truth, for Bel (the fantastic Romola Garai) she wants to keep the job she has worked so hard for and yet she is willing to risk it for the story.

the hour bel and freddieConflict comes in all forms including romantic entanglements such as the affair between the married Hector – Oona Chaplin plays his high society wife Marnie who knows of his affairs and uses the great tool of denial with a broad fake smile to maintain the facade – and Bel. Affairs can be dangerous and this one between producer and presenter has all the trappings of broken hearts and the potential for ruining careers. Enter Freddie as Bel’s best friend, he stands in the shadows pining for the woman he calls Moneypenny (the first James Bond novel Casino Royale was published in 1953 and a copy sits on Freddie’s desk) and he not so subtly infers his love for her on many occasion quoting E.E. Cummings and stirring up all my shipper feelings. There’s an intimacy between these two that can be summed up by unspoken cigarette sharing and how comfortable they are in each other’s company. Tumblr gif sets I will be coming for you later.

Balancing a variety of stories including wars raging on several continents with tensions on the homefront and tying them together through acts of espionage makes the big story personal; Freddie justified his reckless actions for this reason and his passion for the truth is both dangerous and honorable. There is of course the potential for a character like Freddie to become a “troubled genius who is always right” trope and yet he is grounded thanks to such a strong performance from Ben Whishaw, his relationship/chemistry with Bel and because the writing doesn’t quite go ‘there’ with Freddie. There is some sense of self-awareness even as he nears the edge of the precarious path he is on. How long it will stay like this is unclear at this point and the next six episodes are sitting on my desk just crying out to be watched.

Masters of Sex: Costumes and Color

10 Oct

Two episodes into Masters of Sex and TV Ate My Wardrobe is already obsessed with the 1950s stylings that costume designer Ane Crabtree has created. Each main character already has a signature look and this helps to inform the audience about the background of each of the women that we will focus on today.

Masters of Sex green sweater

We briefly discussed Virginia’s outfits from the pilot last week and noted the use of dark colors with greens and reds featuring prominently and this was repeated once again in episode 2. While Virginia doesn’t have a lot of spare cash this doesn’t mean that her wardrobe has to reflect this in an overt manner and her outfits are well put together even when she is running for the bus. Virginia hasn’t always worked in an office and her experience working in a music club means that her clothes are slightly edgier in terms of these darker tones that other women in the secretary pool don’t seem to wear. Virginia wants to be taken seriously by Masters, but her look doesn’t alienate her from the women at the brothel who Masters is having a hard time associating with.

Masters of Sex Virginia red skirt

The black sweater/red checkered skirt is my favorite of Virginia’s ensembles so far and it’s belted at the waist to accentuate her tiny figure, but it also shows off her hips at the same time. This helps with the 1950s swagger that we have seen countless times on Mad Men with Joan. As with Mad Men the costuming is authentic right down to the underwear which means girdles and pointy bras.

Masters of Sex Jane

Jane is younger and less worldly than Virginia and so far she’s been dressed in bright blues and yellows to match her smiley demeanor. I particularly adore the “J” broach on the outfit above. Jane might be young but she’s also savvy, she knows how to handle horny doctors as she leaves them befuddled by reading them a passage from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. She doesn’t fall for Dr. Langham’s attempts to sleep with her outside the study.

Jane Masters of Sex yellow

It’s not only her costuming that brightens a scene and I hope Jane gets to remain this optimistic and as sunny as her yellow cardigan.

Masters of Sex leopard print

It’s a very different story for Betty, Masters inside ‘man’ at the brothel but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to strive for bigger things. Betty’s clothes feature a lot of bold patterns like leopard print and red is a dominant color throughout. It’s not surprising to see Betty in revealing attire when she is at home and her clothes aren’t as form fitting as the other women on this show. Both Betty and Virginia wear a lot red signifying that they are both aware of their sexuality. Virginia tends to wear darker tones that edge towards maroon whereas Betty’s red clothes look cheap by comparison – this isn’t surprising as they no doubt are.

Masters of Sex Betty the receptionist

When Betty comes to the hospital her clothes are still not as tailored as the other receptionists or secretaries and so she still looks somewhat out of place in this world and the dress that Betty is wearing in the shot above is probably the most like something I have hanging in my wardrobe. I’m really happy with how Betty is more than just your friendly neighborhood prostitute and that she poses a challenge to Masters as much as she helps him.

Libby Masters

At the other end of the spectrum is Libby Masters; a woman of means who doesn’t have to work and her costuming is the most feminine that we have seen so far. Floral patterns and a pastel color palette is all part Libby’s wardrobe and it’s in stark contrast to Virginia. This was evident at the big fancy party in the pilot and as I mentioned last week there is a clear difference in how each woman views their own sexuality and their clothing reflects this difference.

Costuming in early episodes helps to differentiate characters and I’m looking forward to seeing how each of these women evolves as the season progresses.

Julie Hammerle

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