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, October 28, 2013

Season 5, Episode 23: A Room With No View

The youngest Huxtable siblings haven't been getting a great deal of focus lately. Turns out, with only two of them left in the house, they've been at each other's throats. After their bickering gets physical to the point that it actually damages the residence, Cliff banishes them to live in the basement. Somehow, the experience forces Vanessa and Rudy to get along with each other, though it's completely unclear to me what sort of lesson they were supposed to learn from this punishment. I have the same problem with our current criminal justice system, actually: prison is a deterrent, but certainly not a rehabilitation system.

Whine face.

Rudy's opening look is pajamas, but I gotta say, pastels and polka dots are closer to right than she's gotten in the past few weeks.


WHAT?! I have no idea. I guess this is Rudy's post-modern commentary on clothing: the ludicrous construction and knowing, almost parodist print depicting cartoonish humanoid forms is intended to comment on our Puritanical need to cover our bodies and the inherent absurdity of concepts like "fit" and "fashion." That shit is deep, especially for a child her age.

"Five." This timeline includes two additional major wars.

You know, I could honestly approve of this completely if that shirt fit her. I really could.

Grace Jones face. Maybe Tempestt Bledsoe should play Grace Jones in something?

Vanessa also begins the episode in pajamas. Fun connection: she inherited this shirt from her brother, who wore it in episode #4.10.

No, maybe not.

You know, I'm actually feeling this. The mint green is terrific on her, and the shirt is the perfect blend of '50s nostalgia and '80s bravado. The tailoring is, if not ideal, at least acceptable, and the zippers bring out a sassier side of the otherwise cutesy look. Oh, plus she's wearing tight black pants and skull earrings, which are pretty much always a good idea.

Yeah, that's a definite no.

Her episode #5.12 shirt is back, and boy does it still hang terribly. And beneath it, dear Jesus no. Like, wear some high-waisted jeans, sure, but please DO NOT employ an exposed zipper that runs from the base of your pelvis to the base of your rib cage. I can't be the only person who finds that visual utterly repugnant.

Maybe Malcolm-Jamal Warner should play Grace Jones in something...

Theo drops by briefly to gloat (the children are all jerks this season!) and wears a pale orange shirt with black pants. There are flags I guess, plus that loafy not-quite-mock-turtleneck collar he's so found of. It is, as usual, uninspiring.

New hair! (Not one of last week's wigs, either.)

I'll give Clair credit for a pretty rad color combination here. The look is based on black leggings and a tight black top with a neon tank over it, which reads as pretty worky-outy, even with the red belt and teal shirt on top. There are too few steps between this and something you'd throw on for spin class, but the topmost pieces are kind of wonderful and could be used again either together or separately to do great things, I'll bet.

She even found matching flats. WHY?!

The capris? Perfect on her. But otherwise her look is a single-color snoozefest. (Technically she has a rainbow wrap belt, which I guess adds something, but it's ugly, so I can't really count it in her favor.) This image, however, still illustrates the value of posing like a boss, which elevates even the drabbest of duds.

Big smile, little juice cup.

I don't know why Cliff's sweatshirt says Cheyney (as in the University in Pennsylvania). But we don't talk about sweats and jogging pants here.

No smile, no juice cup.

He brings out his fixin' overalls to repair the ceiling. The Cheyney sweatshirt remains, lurking just beneath the surface.

Sad face, sad hat.

Here's the thing: I don't think those are track pants. On the other hand, they're so ridiculously shiny that I have a hard time believing they're twill slacks, either. Something's going on there. Maybe they were over-ironed, which sometimes gives cloth that satiny finish? It doesn't seem as though the costume department would send him out in opalescent khakis unless it were an intentional move, but I'll be damned if I can explain it. That orange sweatshirt is a great color, but we don't talk about sweats here, as I might have mentioned. He should stay away from hats. Or at least from choosing his own hats.

Those of you who have stuck with this blog are wonderful, and maybe crazy. I might be both of those things, too. See you around, kittens.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Season 5, Episode 22: Birthday Blues

In the continuing saga of deciphering Clair's age, we have a new (and further contradictory) data point. At the start of the series, she was roughly the same age as Cliff, which we learned when he revealed that he chose Hillman College after she decided to go there herself. Later on, Vanessa stated that there was a four-year gap between her parents' ages. Today we learn that Clair is turning 46. However, since Cliff turned 48 late in the first season, that means that he's going to be turning 52 in a matter of weeks, which adds another couple years to their age difference. The writers should have known from the beginning that they'd have to fudge the numbers a little. Phylicia Rashad was only 41 when she filmed this season, and still looked like she was in her early 30s. Passing her off as a 50-year-old working mother of five would have taken some dazzling make-up work.

Joan Collins is her idol.

Since the birthday festivities involve a trip to the salon, we get a fair few guest appearances this week. Two-time Tony nominee Christine Andreas turns up briefly as an unnamed stylist, wearing the template outfit for an unnamed stylist in every '80s movie you've ever seen. The short haircut with a flash of color is basically the uniform for a fashion-forward young woman of this decade, while that blue smock is more literally the uniform in which she works. (I assume; if that's not a colorist's robe then she needs to rethink her morning's choices.) I'm loving the gauzy spotted top and slim pants in stark blacks and whites, and can get behind the earrings mostly because they are honest-to-goodness candelabras, and that's gutsy.

Carol Kane is her idol.

Pamela Blair plays Karen, another salon employee. You can tell that she's stylish because she's wearing something that sci-fi movies thought people of the future would wear. This one-piece is oddly flattering to her figure. She's exceptionally slim, so the baggier parts give her a little extra curve where you'd probably want it while accentuating her tiny waist and long legs. Though the colors are uninteresting in general, they're also textured, which adds at least a hint of visual dynamism. Overall, I'm enjoying this a great deal more than I expected to.

Prince's mechanic is her idol.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on looking good for one's age this week, which is preposterous given that neither Clair nor the actress playing her should have the slightest worry in that regard. Nonetheless, Barbara E. Smith (in her only IMDb credit) shows up for a quick second as Mrs. Clark, a woman who looks exceptionally good for her age and of whom others are highly jealous. Her purple microsuede safari gear does less to induce envy. And sure she's flossin' with that Louis Vuitton bag, but Clair is a lawyer, so she can get her own.

Charo is her idol.

Stage and screen actress Barbara Luna (who sometimes capitalizes the second B in her name apparently?) plays Cynthia, a more ostentatiously glamorous woman who is subtly shamed for clinging too tightly to her youth with a string of boy-toy husbands and implied surgical procedures. Her look accentuates this "problem" with the baby pink stripes, cleavage-revealing neckline, short skirt, and big bombshell hair. Personally, I'm not going to judge her for being fabulous.

The mannequin at Chico's is her idol.

Clair's friend Lorraine (played by Denise Nicholas) makes her only appearance this week. I guess it's tough to see your friends more than once every eight years when you're busy with work and family. Her coat is a huge problem. The shoulder width, neckline, and general boxiness are all working their hardest to make her torso as stout as possible, while the poorly-placed buttons and overemphasized pockets make the piece feel dowdy. Underneath, she's at least trying for a little flair with the wildly-patterned shirt, but it's not a stupendous piece. Also, maybe don't force the brown/black pairing. I get that they're both in your shirt, but that doesn't mean you can wear that belt with those pants.

Mister Rogers is his idol.

Oh hey, speaking of stage legends, Placido Domingo dropped by! He plays Alberto, Lorraine's husband, but is really just shoehorned in so that he can serenade Clair with some opera tenor realness. His tie, shirt, and sweater are engaged in an active conflict at the moment, and I don't see it getting resolved any time soon. The pants are staying out of it. Smart move, pants. (Deep down, I think the pants see where the sweater and shirt are coming from. Like, what is your deal, tie? Why do you always have to start shit? If you don't like it here, maybe you should move out!)

You're too young to get stuck in a rut, Rudy.

Rudy starts us off with a repeat of her episode #5.10 display. It's no less weird now than it was then.

Chad Michaels first lady realness.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this family might spend too much money on costumes. For their mother's birthday, the children each give a presentation on what the world was like when Clair was their age, including an outfit to reflect the time period. With a wig, even! And that's a nice wig! And Clair doesn't usually wear wigs, so it's not like they just had that lying around. It's a pretty adorable dress, but I'm sure this is the last time it will see the light of day.

This look is its own punchline.

This pastel smock last showed up in episode #4.21, and age has not helped it. Close-ups don't help it, either; are those zebra stripes I spy under the splotches of color? The chartreuse t-shirt isn't wrong in this setting, but those striped leggings are wrong in every setting. Get them out of here.

Surely Clair wasn't allowed to wear make-up at this age.

Another costume, complete with another wig? The spending! Also, poodle skirts are far too obvious. People wore other stuff in the '50s, I'm sure.

No but really, he stopped trying years ago.

Theo's shirt is too wide yet too short. Adventures in bad tailoring! The pants have appeared repeatedly and have been misshapen every time as well.

He is capable of greatness.

See, this is how it's done. Don't be afraid of clothes that fit! They make you look better! Other than the extreme collar, this is pretty impeccable.

Didn't we almost have it all?

Though Clair usually has perfect style, she goes a little overboard with the saturated hues for her birthday. Since everything has the typical '80s breadth, the use of extreme shades like that neon coral becomes particularly flagrant. The top with the sunset is kind of great, and I'm dying over the perfectly matched purple belt with the golden skirt (though I want so badly for that skirt to be fitted). But I'm honestly stumped as to what I'd do about a jacket to put over this. All I know for sure is that it would be a much smaller piece, because this is too much.

Ring around the collar.

As an offset to his wife's selections, Cliff goes all gray this week. I'd be OK with just the shirt and pants, but let's be real: that is the ugliest sweater vest out there, from the pouchy fit to the random symbols to the thick, ruglike texture. Nope.

And that concludes another week. Hope you enjoyed!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Season 5, Episode 21: Theo's Women

Things are going well with Justine until Theo helps a stranger from the theater department rehearse a scene. He gets caught taking a little dramatic license and kisses her, and Justine dumps him on the spot. Despite writing poetry, begging, and singing the blues, she cannot be convinced to take him back.

You remind me of the babe.

This is Vanessa A. Williams (not to be confused with singer/actor Vanessa L. Williams) as Jade, the woman Theo kisses. She's apparently fresh from an audition for Jareth the Goblin King. I guess they were trying to give her a highly theatrical costume to show what a free spirit she is, but mostly she just looks like she half-assed her pirate costume for this afternoon's LARP-ing session. The jeans and boots could maybe work if the top half was completely overhauled, but the blouse with the flowing back and dangly fasteners has no hope. I'm intrigued by the cropped military jacket: the construction suggests to me that it's a full-length coat that she modified herself, and I admire that kind of pluck.

You need to direct that skepticism inward, girl.

She makes a brief reappearance after the breakup, wearing a pretty unremarkable configuration of clothing. Without that green coat, I'd assume these were gym clothes, but I think she's seriously wearing this as just everyday gear. The wild green is fun, but otherwise I find this to be pretty haphazard and unappealing.

She's a joke person, it seems.

Justine's roommate Delores (played by Tichina Arnold) shows up in this episode. My best guess based on her getup: she's majoring in Psychedelic Illuminati Clowning. Seriously, what even is all this?!

She delivers a whole lot of "not having it."

Her second appearance cements her as a good roommate, a loyal friend, and an atrocious dresser. If you're going to clash a color, please don't clash yellow. It's one of the worst affronts to the eye you can commit.

They're the school's equivalent of the grumpy old Muppets sitting in the balcony.

Leila Kenzle (who eventually got her big break) and Una Kim (who did not) arrive in the background of a couple key scenes basically to show us that this breakup is messy and public, even if only two other people live in this whole dorm. I assume that Miss Kenzle went to a school that required uniforms and thus never learned how to dress herself. Stick to what you know? Miss Kim has committed a major misstep with that junky shirt, but I'm positively living for those wide, flowing pants. That had better not be a skirt, by the way. My whole day is riding on the assumption that those are pants.

Anything on besides The Cosby Show reruns?

Don't dress like these girls. Do not do it.

Call Tyra Banks! Booty tooch alert!

You know what Justine loves? Matching her pants to her top. She has a solid handle on fit, most of the time: as a petite woman, she's smart to stay away from anything too voluminous, as the width can quickly make her boxy. Her use of high belts to lengthen her legs is also smart. But this monochrome thing is a problem, even if she punches it up with the shock of chartreuse or the spangled pin. Just pick items that are two different colors. I know you can do it!

And now the fit is wrong. It's either/or with you, huh?

I'm disappointed that we don't get much of a look at whatever is under her insanely large leather jacket (remember what I said about wide things ruining her proportions?) because this complex, structured , pin-striped pink top looks like it might be fabulous. The patterned pants she chose don't seem to be a great pairing with the upper half, so this might not be a cohesive look, but really there's not a lot to go on: she shows up only briefly and is mostly obscured by the coat and bag. Oh, costume department, how you tease me!

"You're skipping me again?!"

I'll be honest: I think Rudy's still too young to include in this blog, but she's a cultural touchstone so I feel bad overlooking her. Still, most people don't say something with their clothes until their teen years, and there's rarely anything to observe about her. So, like, here she is.


Vanessa brings back her episode #5.14 skirt and a simple white top, with maybe a low-fastened cardigan or something going on under there? Tough to say, as she has armored herself in a thick jacket topped with a thicker leather vest. This is the kind of padding you wear if you're planning on being bombarded with paint balls or rubber bullets or something. What route does she take home from school?

Admit it: someone wore this in your high school's production of Romeo and Juliet.

Oh, Theo. Your shirt is several sizes too big. (You should have kept it hidden under a cardigan like you did in episode #5.15.) Your collar is half-popped. Your top button is buttoned. The whole look is too dark. You have failed.


Also, that rat tail is getting exceptionally long and gross.

Put on your thinking sweatpants.

This is his poetry-writing outfit.

The bottom of this barrel is getting awfully thin, Theo.

This is not the outfit you wear to win someone back. I really can't get into it. It hurts me.

But what does it mean?

Since Clair does not appear this week, we'll jump straight to Cliff, who has some sort of abstract line drawing on his sweater. It's actually kind of beautiful, and the understated earth tones are fabulous. This would be a perfect outfit were it not for the swirly, mottled, barfy collar popping up at his neck. Everything about its color and print are terrible and it disappoints me that such an otherwise glorious moment was marred in this way. Boo.

Apologies again for having skipped a week, kids (and for being so late posting today). I could go into details, but I won't. We're here to talk Cosby, not to explore the highs and lows of my life. Anyhow, further delays should be avoidable, so expect a timely entry next week.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

No post this week.

Hey guys,

I really thought I was going to get a post in today, but clearly it didn't happen. I won't have time for the next several days, so I'm going to have to call this one a loss and just post it on Monday. Sorry for skipping a week on you.