Tag Archives: TUSK

Music Monday Rewind: The Americans and TUSK!

24 Feb

Season 2 of The Americans begins on Wednesday and so there’s only one way we want to start this week and it is with Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” The song isn’t the first one we hear in the pilot – that honor goes to Quarterflash “Harden my Heart” in the bar – though it might as well be as it plays an extended role in the introduction of this world as we see a seduction in a blonde wig followed by a mission that goes awry. It’s a song that keeps up the momentum and perhaps embarrassingly I didn’t initially know it was a Fleetwood Mac song when I first saw the episode; on Twitter I referred to it as jaunty drums (actually that’s definitely embarrassing).

Picture1We’re thrown head first into this world and seeing Elizabeth de-wig and swap between the role of the seductress and a seemingly cold agent reveals a lot about what kind of person she is at the start of the show. Philip is different, he’s playing the part of mentor and he is willing to jeopardize their operation to save the rookie. This shows a fundamental difference between these two characters which will play its part for the rest of the season, all while this fantastic track is playing over the action. It’s frantic and it’s messy, but oh so much fun to watch.

The Americans was a 2013 highlight and while we spent a lot of time discussing the wigs and costuming (because of course), the soundtrack should also be singled out for adding something extra to the overall aesthetic of the show.

Watch a trailer for season 2 here and check out our report of the vodka themed DVD launch party here.

For now “TUSK!”

Best of TV Costuming 2013: The Many Wigs of The Americans

11 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ 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.

The Americans debuted in January and like all good spy shows disguise is a key element to the costuming. Today we will be discussing the variety of looks that both Philip and Elizabeth Jennings wore throughout season 1 and how this reflects some of the key issues of the series.

the Americans ClarkOn the surface The Americans is a show about two Soviet spies in an arranged marriage infiltrating the US; this means plenty of missions and costumes. This set up leads to the exploration of broader and deeper themes such as identity, family and marriage. Compartmentalizing is a big part of how these characters deal with their jobs and yet it is impossible to completely deny all feelings especially when a fake family contains two very real children and a connection that goes beyond regular co-workers. Elizabeth and Philip take on a variety of roles throughout the first season, for minor missions and long cons such as Philip’s Clark persona – in the shot above ‘Clark’s’ sweater vest/turtleneck combination is several levels of incredible, as is Elizabeth’s Velma wig.

Picture1The wigs are vital to the disguise and they serve a variety of purposes. This blonde wig in the opening scene of the pilot (TUSK!) is all about seduction and as soon as Elizabeth is in the car out of view, she rips it off as if she’s disassociating herself from the sex act she has just performed to get the information she needs. Ah yes, they must have some super strength Soviet glue as none of the wigs ever come off during these physical entanglements.

The Americans Clark and MarthaI was convinced that Martha would find out the truth mid romp, but Clark’s cover is still safe for now. Clark is the only repeat disguise and in a way he does feel like his own character. Clark is now actually married to Martha, when not even Philip is really married to Elizabeth. There was no ceremony, no real vows beyond those to the country. So the real marriage is fake and the fake marriage is real. Of course Martha is blissfully unaware and she will become collateral damage at some point whether it’s a broken heart or something more grave than that. When it comes to matters of seduction, the methods are similar it’s just the time scale that is different. Philip has built up his relationship with Martha because she is an asset they can use for the long term, whereas most of Elizabeth’s targets involve a brief post bar hookup. It’s all about finding the best way to gather information and they are both using their bodies to do so.

The Americans weddingClark’s fake family is made up of his fake wife and his handler and they share similar hair and glasses style. It’s a testament to the show that one of the biggest emotional gut punches comes in a scene featuring glasses this oversized.

The Americans all that hairOther than wigs that have the power to stay on during rigorous activity, the other magical element is how all of Keri Russell’s glorious hair fits into some of the super short wigs. A state of the art wig cap is the only answer. Dramatic cascading hair fit for a shampoo commercial is on display from time to time.

The Americans goateeFor Philip he gets the bonus disguise option of facial hair and the variety of characters he can take on with all the beard and moustache types is huge; Philip can flip between super sweet Clark to a dirtbag in several easy steps.  For Elizabeth she can rock a hat, but they have to get creative with any additions such as facial scars. Most of the time it is about distraction and the accessories they wear draw attention away from their real features.

The Americans two sketchesThese are sketches of two of Elizabeth’s disguises and while some in the FBI aren’t convinced it is the same person, Stan is. This is based on his experience and having an opponent in law enforcement that is actually smart adds tension to this game of cat and mouse. The stakes are raised and it actually feels like Philip and Elizabeth are in danger going into the final episode of the season.

The Americans mom jeansThe endless stream of wigs and costumes adds to the early ’80s aesthetic and Keri Russell can even make a pair of high waisted ‘mom’ jeans look good. Everything they wear is a disguise in one form or another and this includes when they are at home with their children and it helps create an image. The role of parent is very real even if the foundation it sits on is fabricated and this is one of the most thrilling aspects of The Americans; the spy shenanigans are fun and yet the emotional punches come courtesy of this fabricated life that has become their reality.

The Americans finaleFamily is what matters and it’s scenes like this one in the finale that emphasize the conflict between their duty to their country and the one they have created as part of their job. There are so many different versions of identity in The Americans and at home with their children is the most honest of them all. You know, aside from Henry and Paige thinking their parents work in the travel business.

Season 2 begins next year and we can’t wait to see what treats it will deliver us.

Julie Hammerle

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