As someone with a lot going on, I am selective on what shows I watch. The three biggest criteria that draw me into a show are (1) Plot line (2) Setting and lastly, but very importantly, (3) the Costuming.
As a fashion enthusiast and person in the industry I take special attention to costuming, makeup, and how the scenery/ sets work. You could have a show with amazing acting but costuming and setting does a lot of talking to sell a truly amazing series. The following collection of five shows are a mix of recent shows with phenomenal costuming departments and settings, plus the plot lines aren’t too shabby either.
Where to Watch: USA Network
Our Synopsis: This show is filmed in a vaguely reminiscent way to Pulp Fiction. A 10 episode blip that is worth binging, it is less about clothing although clothing does come into play. Want to make a powerful woman returning to a small town make a big splash? Put her in a series of sexy power suits. The suits do a lot of the talking. The everyday townspeople are full of “southern charm”, including some cowboy hats, button downs, and a ton of dirty secrets. The mysterious murder plot line and various strange characters definitely help. The costuming of law figures and people of importance introduces you to who people are before they even start talking.
A ten episode blip, it’s easy to binge.
Plot Line (from a quick IMBd search): An investigator returns home to solve the death of her sister from a car-bombing. The search for a killer unravels a system of corruption in her small border town. (And a bit more detail provided by TVline.com) …[I]s set in a steamy Texas border town known as Saint Disgrace is a big clue about what’s to follow. It’s a conspicuously quirky setting for a conspicuously quirky show: a funky neo-noir full of eccentric characters that has atmosphere to burn… It is undeniably clever… but it might be too clever for its own good.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Our Synopsis: Did men just simply dress better in the 60s? Do I have an affinity for a man in a suit? The way the housewives and secretary characters are defined by their looks, is completely sexist, but also somewhat intriguing? This show’s setting, costuming, and sexism matches the time period perfectly, and as someone who took more than one advertising course in college, I can respect the premise. (This show does lose some points because of the hyper sexualization of females in the workplace, the way women are quarantined to home giver or “stupid girl” roles, etc. But if you can blame it on the time period and focus on the glitz and the glam of the ad industry and the various plot lines, it wins a few points back.) The best part of this is probably the mens fashion. The costuming director takes numerous risks and doesn’t put the mens in black suits at every chance, which is refreshing.
With a healthy seven seasons, multiple plot lines and a beautiful cast in beautiful clothes, the show is definitely worth a gander.
Plot Line (from a quick wiki search): Mad Men is set initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, and later at the newly created firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (later named Sterling Cooper & Partners), located near the Time-Life Building at 1271 Sixth Avenue. According to the pilot episode, the phrase “Mad men” was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves, “Mad” being short for “Madison”.
Show: Sex Education
Where to Watch: Netflix
Our Synopsis: If the title makes you cringe, you need to watch this show. It is a comedic, coming of age gem that manages to actually touch on teen drama without making it feel like teen drama written by adults. It is all about navigating sex and relationships as a high schooler (as the title may allude to) but in a very stomach-able manner. Many fans wonder, when and where this time period takes place. The costuming and settings are reminiscent of the 70s, but the characters face modern day problems and have cellphones. They have British accents, but American mannerisms. It manages to build its own slightly off kilter version of our own modern day society. The cast is diverse, dynamic, and beautiful. They have managed to have everyone dress uniquely, and express themselves while still communicating archetypes such as the jocks, the goths, and the losers found in a traditional high school show. It takes “a comic book, technicolor” approach to classic coming of age issues and the way the show is set, feels almost cartoonish, in a delightful way.
Plot Line (from a quick wiki search): “[The show]…follows the story of Otis Milburn, a socially awkward teenager, who is ambivalent about sex, despite, or perhaps because of, his mother being a sex therapist who is frank about all aspects of sexuality. After inadvertently assisting the school bully with his sexual performance anxiety, Otis sets up a sex advice business with Maeve—a confident but troubled classmate—to educate their fellow students in how to deal with their own sexual problems.”
Show: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Our Synopsis: We’ve established that I have a thing for 60s culture with Mad Men, so why does this show earn a separate place on my list, higher up on the list? Maybe because the female lead (Mrs. Midge Maisel) is a dynamic, wealthy Jewish woman from the Upper West Side navigating her husbands affair, her family and an unexpected career in comedy. Yeah, the show is amazing. Not to mention the fashion sense is out of this world and much more woman centric and woman empowered then Mad Men.
Clothes have a lot of influence on the characters development. When she begins comedy she strips away her normal colorful attire for a sleek black dress and string of pearls. Is it so she is taken more seriously? Is it because sex sells (and the LBD was a big deal even in the 60s)? Thats up for you to interpret. Midge’s character is ridiculous, empowered, and hysterical (in and out of her comedy career) so her costuming from her pajamas, to her swimsuits to every other facet of her life does ALMOST as much talking as she does.
Where to Watch: Hulu.com
Our Synopsis: Probably the most sensationalized show on this list, it’s for good reason. The plot was amazing, the actors were phenomenal, I mean Zendaya was in it, need I say more? Besides that, the make up looks and costuming were highly influential to beauty bloggers, and general fashion for the months following its most recent season finale. For that reason, it earns a firm spot on this list. The show is dark and gives real insight to “growing up” themes such as addiction, sex, sexual assault, divorce, breakups and make ups etc, and more recent “growing up” themes that are modern day issues such as nudes/sexting, pill addictions, sexuality/labels etc. The costuming reflects timeless teenage self expression while also pulling from the internet culture of the past decade, in a way no show has before. If “Sex Education” is technicolor, then the tone of Euphoria is “neon”. It gives nods to anime, ‘e-girls”, YouTube make up gurus, Tumblr and other cultural niches born via the internet. The characters clothing in this showcases “who they are and who they want to be” (quote here).
With season two in the works, it’s definitely worth a binge.
Plot Line (from a quick wiki search): HBO’s Euphoria redefined the edgy teen drama with its takes on drug addiction, mental health, and identity for this generation.
Have you seen any of these shows? What’s your favorite show currently?