If this is your first time here, I recommend starting from the first episode and working your way forward. Of course, that's entirely your call.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Season 2, Episode 19: Full House

All Cliff wants to do is spend a quiet day reading the paper. But wouldn't you know it? The house is full of rascally kids. That's what you get for turning your wife into a baby factory, dude. Think of it this way: she spent a combined four years of her life pregnant, you can spend a day talking to your offspring.

Cliff Huxtable: Obstetric Ninja

I'm getting Cliff out of the way early because he doesn't give me anything new to talk about. His first outfit is only shown in relative darkness, so I can't offer any sort of critique. He wore this shirt in episode #1.21; the pants are probably repeats, and the cardigan is new, but it's too murky to really evaluate. However: socks.

Cliff Huxtable: Comfortable Detective

We won't cover this look either, both because it's pajamas and because it's a repeat (partially): the bathrobe was first seen in the season 2 premier.

That seductive face? It's about pizza. You can't handle what she'd do with actual sex.

I'm also skipping Clair entirely, since she's wearing episode #2.07's look. (She rolls up the sleeves this time, but that doesn't drastically change my opinion of the overall aesthetic.)

From here, I think it might be best to move chronologically through the episode, tracking Cliff's various encounters in his search for peace. People tend to appear in pairs and groups, so it'll be easier to discuss them as they pop up instead of trying to follow each character individually. Like Dr. Huxtable, I was looking forward to a quiet day of mostly recycled clothing, but then I was bombarded with a staggering array of guest stars and costume changes.

Was it weird for these actors to mock their own pubescence?

The first people we bump into are Cockroach and Theo, who are comparing nonexistent mustaches. Theo, bless his heart, is wearing almost exactly what he wore in episode #2.01, though he's traded the previous blue undershirt for a simpler white one.

These cartoon colors make him look like a Dora the Explorer character.

Cockroach, in a drastic counterpoint to his best friend's grays, is throwing down several bright shades. The yellow and aqua make surprisingly good companions. (Actually, it shouldn't be surprising; Mrs. Cosby rocked a similar pairing late last season.) My only real complaint here is that the overlarge long-sleeved tee looks even less suited to his physical form when placed under a cardigan that fits him correctly. I get that he wants to show off more of the yellow, but it's pouring out from his sleeves and past his waist and around his neck in all these strange ways. It's possible to give hints like that while still wearing a shirt in the appropriate size. The light gray jeans aren't bad, but I'm against his decision to roll those orange socks up over his pants. I know, it can be tempting to broadcast it when you go to the trouble of choosing nice socks, but let them subtly speak for themselves.

"Studying." Sure.

Journeying into the kitchen, we encounter Vanessa hitting the books. She's heavy into the pink and gray situation, but not in the brilliant way Rudy pulled it off in episode #1.20. The hue of her top is so saturated that it nearly drowns out the print; from a distance, it looks maybe dirty instead of patterned. They're barely ever in frame, but her pants match the top almost exactly, which is risky at this level of intensity. As accessories free of context, the earrings could conceivably have a home somewhere, but they're misused here. So much patterned pink ends up blending together. There's nothing for the eye to hold onto with this outfit. It's so uniform that she becomes a beanbag chair.

Any more studying and he's going to fail out of middle school.

Robert serves up a robustly boxy blue plaid. I enjoy practically nothing about it.

My last three clothing purchases were inspired by her style. Not even joking.

Leaving the kitchen for the living room, we come across one of the scenes I've remembered fondly since childhood: Denise watching a reggae video with her date. Her clothing is largely repeated: the shirt is from episode #1.21 and the turtleneck has previously appeared in two of my favorite looks of hers: #2.08 and #2.15. I think the pants are new, and the amount of folding and bunching suggests that they fit in an innovative or unexpected manner, but her seated position never reveals their full potential. This is a solid showing for her; it's not as full-on wonderful as some of her previous efforts, but it's casually chic and conveys that she knows what she's doing.

He's nice, but he'll leave you for Penny Pingleton.

Clayton Prince plays Denise's boyfriend Eddie Lakeheart. If you recognize him for anything, it's probably his performance as Seaweed in Hairspray (the original, not the new musical). He's also forever cemented in my mind for his hilarious shout-outs to the television during this scene. His fine comedic performance makes up for the bland clothes: navy pants, navy sweatshirt, and the barest hint of yellow to prevent you from immediately falling asleep when you see him.

She was out storm chasing right before this scene.

Escape from the family is impossible; just when Cliff thinks he's safe, he finds Sondra lurking in the dining room. This scene is odd, because until now, her relationship problems have been largely Elvin's fault: he's a chauvinist and a jerk, usually. Here, however, she shares equal blame: after repeated attempts to goad him into anger in manipulative ways, she picks a fight with him for being supremely willing to put up with her bullshit. Seriously, Sondra, he's giving you all sorts of leeway, even when you're intentionally unpleasant. He might be a keeper; quit while you're ahead. Back to the outfit, though. First things first: that pink shirt was too large when her aunt wore it in episode #2.09, and it's too big now. That makes layering more of a challenge, because the top garment has to be even wider just to get onto her body. Also, the brown thing is somewhere between a coat and a shirt: it's got lapels like a blazer (which she has unwisely popped like a collar), but small buttons like a blouse, and seems to be made from a light-ish fabric. I'd rather not live in a world with shirtcoats. I'm all about breaking down barriers, unless it involves the creation of unflattering garments. She wins me over with the palette, though: there's a chic interplay between the brightness of that pink with the richness of the chocolate brown and denim. I won't comment on the hair because it's not right to mock another person's tragedy.

You could do better, Elvin. Let the next breakup be the last.

Elvin gives us another burly plaid shirt softened by more traditionally feminine tones. The tangents toward seafoam and magenta make this decidedly less studly, once again representing him as a man striving toward womanly understandinf. I mean, we have to play within established gender barriers to make this analysis work, but I think it's valid given the simultaneous breaking and reinforcement of male/female stereotypes apparent in this show and in the rhetoric of mid-1980s discourse in general. Of course, all of that is a discussion for a blog on historical feminism. I'm just blabbering about what the Huxtables wore.

"Television is fun!" raves mainstream TV show.

Retreating to his bedroom, Cliff finds Rudy and her friend Naoka watching television.

Just straight chillaxin'.

Rudy is rocking multiple colors the way only a six-year-old child can. It's possible that there's some traditional Mexican influence in the brightly colored horizontal stripes of her sweater vest, but it's tough to say without getting a better look at the whole design.

"No, I was not in the Halloween episode. Racist."

Naoka, by comparison, is practically austere in her paisley shirt with coordinated turtleneck. Vanessa would totally wear this. (Naoka, by the way, previously appeared in the sleepover episode. The show always impresses me with its commitment to continuity in establishing social circles for the children.)

Desperate to escape, Cliff finally hides in his office. Clair joins him. We've seen what they're wearing, though, so we'll skip ahead. The next part of the episode involves everyone getting ready to go out for the night. New outfits!

I know they break up eventually, and I wouldn't be surprised if this ensemble was a factor.

The gentlemen appear first, while the ladies remain upstairs preparing. (See what I mean about gender stereotypes?) Robert is taking Vanessa to one of the many school-sponsored dances they always seem to be attending. He explains that though it is not a formal, they like to look good. I'm saddened that this is his idea of a strong fashion choice. The top isn't leopard but may as well be. It seems to be made of felt or terrycloth, though I'm sure it's something marginally less cheap. He's also swimming in it. Adding to the general offense of wearing a bolo tie, he selects one in a clashing color. I'm fine with the pants, I suppose.

Denise has lots of boyfriends, but I think this guy is my favorite.

Eddie has a lot to live up to sartorially if he's going out with Denise, but I think he does a sound job here. There are some wonderful old-man flourishes like the cut of the pants and the tweedy appeal of the blazer, lending his outfit the costume-y quality that Denise sometimes plays with. Everything has a pattern and a color: the jacket serves blue stripes, supporting the teal print on the shirt, leading nicely into the brick and gold of the tie. Even the trousers seem more forest green than charcoal, though it's not easy to tell their true tone. Whatever the case, it's not a bad combination of disparate factors.

He tries.

Elvin, however, keeps it calm with his periwinkle button-down, navy blazer, and gray pants. The plaid tie is his only hint of playfulness, but even that stays in the blue family. I feel like the jacket is too wide for him; he looks significantly brawnier than usual in the full-body shot on the right.

He tries harder. Too hard, really.

Theo and Cockroack try to step out of the house before anyone can notice their penciled-in mustaches. Their ploy is particularly pathetic because I'm sure their dates saw them in school yesterday, so they really have no chance of fooling anyone. Both of them have chosen outfits that are so supremely '80s that it hurts. This charcoal top with cerulean armbands and red undershirt are sublime examples of the worst of the era, both in terms of color scheme and cut. You can't really see it here, but he's also wearing hilarious midnight blue parachute pants. He probably looked great by the standards of the moment, but in retrospect it's a giant failure.

He's Brooklyn's fifth-best Prince impersonator in the under-18 division.

Cockroach throws down a different, even larger yellow top and some of the worst pants I've ever seen. These give Denise's spider pajamas a run for their money. I feel sorry for the ladies they'll be taking out.

Do you really want to hurt me?

The ladies in question: Tracy and Linda, both played by women who never appeared on television before or since. I'm not even sure which is which. The one on the left is dishing up an elderly thing: the tall hair, the dangly earrings, the blouse that looks like your grandma's couch, even the practical jacket. On the right, we have a female version of Mr. Cosby. The sweater, the heinous collar, the weird hair, the weirder facial expression... I hope she's the one going out with Cockroach.

See? I'm nice to her once in a while.

One by one, the other women begin appearing. Sondra is doing alright here: I like her in a strong indigo like this, and the coat-like structure of her dress suggests that maybe she's some sort of pervert flasher. But hey, sex sells, right? It makes her edgy. The hair's a bit wacky, but the green in her headwrap is enjoyable. I'm also digging the structured detailing in her wrist cuffs and multiple belts. Again, there's a bit of a dirty sex suggestion in her light bondage accessories, but I'm OK with the alluring mystique they establish. Oh, and you can see Rudy in a couple of these shots, but I didn't work too hard to catch her separately because she's wearing the dress from the season 1 finale.

I'm nice to her once in a while, too. Just not now.

Vanessa comes next, and she's forcing it until it breaks. You can see immediately that everything is huge on her, and on top of that the shirt itself is just a sloppy mess of competing colors. I hate it all.

I'm almost always nice to this one.

And finally, we have Denise, who tries to save a sinking ship of an outfit with awesome flourishes. I love the leopard touches on her head and forearms and live for the chain sash. I'm even alright with the color. But as far as I can tell, she's wearing two or three matching pieces that are all tailored horribly to her shape. It's a cardigan over either a dress or a top and skirt, but either way the whole thing looks sloppy rather than flowy. I'd like to see her work her same accessorizing magic on a more worthy set of garments.

And that's that. Hope you all enjoyed. If you did, please consider donating a dollar to help me keep this blog running.

Uh-oh.

I know, Phylicia. Asking people for money is tacky. That's why I only ask for a dollar! And it's just a suggestion, you can keep reading even if you never give me a penny, and I'll keep writing anyway because that's the kind of generous soul I am. Should you choose to contribute, the button is below.


See you next Monday, lovelies.

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