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, May 26, 2014

Season 6, Episode 25: Live and Learn

Denise continues to be inspired by the idea of teaching children with learning disabilities, but is less invested in learning how to teach children with learning disabilities. When she catches two minutes of Olivia's teacher "rapping" with the children about math, she assumes that she can simply learn songs and dances that will engage her class, bypassing the whole pesky process of getting a college degree or two. Of course, no one is as confident in her as she is in herself, and eventually she caves and re-enrolls in school.

One of many voices of reason.

Her friend Rebecca, played by Suzzanne Douglas, is a teacher herself. Not that this fact convinces Denise that this woman might actually know a thing or two about how to become a teacher. Her first scene is spent sitting at the kitchen table, so her lower half remains a mystery. The top portion of her outfit is a baggy printed shirt over a solid tee. It's a pretty average creation, except for the fact that the combination of elderly pastel floral and sickly chartreuse could probably set your eyes on fire if you stare too long.

Maybe her students design her clothes?

This outfit makes less painful use of the visible light spectrum. It's not great, but it's less horrible. I actually enjoy the stripes on the back of her vest, though the front suggests a continued commitment to looking like grandma's couch. Like, she is straight-up upholstered there. The pants aren't fantastic, and the shirt is similarly only tolerable. I guess preschool teachers aren't known for their sense of style in general, though.

Why didn't his music career take off, I wonder?

Case in point: Uncle Wilton. The man behind Denise's career awakening is an actual educator named Wilton Banks; his CD is still available for purchase, though I wouldn't recommend listening to it for extended periods of time if you value your sanity. Anyway, he seems a little dressy for a teacher. If I were going to be surrounded by children all day, I'd worry about getting paint and glue and god knows what else on my clothes. He's a more daring man than I. He knows how to use color, at least; the purple is just flashy enough to offset that charcoal/black combo, yet doesn't seem ridiculous or ostentatious.

I should mention that jazz musician Max Roach features in this episode playing the drums for Uncle Wilton, but he receives so little focus that I opted not to include him. Most of what he wears is obscured by his drum set anyway.

I wonder if his methods actually helped kids learn?

Uncle Wilton remains committed to dressing up. This shirt's pattern is a little too fussy for my tastes, even if he coordinates it well with the tie and pants. It would look good under a jacket or sweater, but it's too much when the whole thing is exposed.

What if Olivia just didn't have a right hand?

Not to be outdone, Olivia rocks an even more outlandish print in her pants. I love her layered shirt combo here.

They say "one times one is one" about a million times this week.

Later we learn that her pants come with a matching jacket because everyone has lost their minds.

One times two is two...

She's not going to show any mercy, it seems: wild prints all day every day. Avert your eyes.

Those are some awful kicks, kid.

Rudy, about to attend a party, is suddenly worried that everyone will make fun of her asymmetrical ears. She oddly expresses zero concern that her peers will question her decision to roll her pants up to mid-calf. It's a choice about which I am personally rather dubious. Smart blazer, though. It's not at its best over a white tee, but it could be worse.

I bet she's the hottest mom at that school.

Denise begins the episode in her episode #6.10 top. It looks better over the subtler pants, in my opinion. The patchwork from last time underplayed what an elegant piece this is. Also, if you were wondering where Madonna got the idea for her slick black hair during the "I'll Remember" period? Possibly from this scene.

She has possibly outgrown her consistent fashion sense.

Well this is confusing. The base of this creation is a sort of pajama situation. On its own, it wouldn't be an outfit I'd think you could leave the house in. But then she throws on this gauzy smock, and suddenly it's... I mean, I don't know what it is. The split back makes it look like it's on backwards, though I know it's not. Still, the sense I get isn't of chicness, but of wrongness or incompleteness. It hangs open like a hospital gown. Also, the sleeves are too short. Maybe this is a child's dress that she has wrestled onto her body even though it didn't fit? I want to be on her side, but I don't think this experiment worked. I could get behind some of these details on an actual gossamer gown, but this look as it stands isn't for me.

Vintage weirdo.

This '70s suit is so patently ridiculous that I'm just going to let it stand. She's like Popeye and Olive Oyl rolled into one, and I can't even tell if it's good or not, so I'm deferring to her judgment.


Every once in a while, Clair gets it exactly right. This is one of those times. My favorite part is the way the belt is lighter than the skirt but darker than the blouse, creating almost a gradient effect. The color scheme would be boring if it weren't for the fact that everything is impeccably tailored. I rarely comment on nail polish, but she's serving up a red bordering on coral that adds the exact splash of brightness this look needed. Top-notch work, Mrs. Huxtable.

And then it all falls down.

Her second look doesn't quite hold up, though. The satiny fabric with the contrast cuffs should probably be saved and used to make another top. The pants will be tougher to salvage.

Are those trousers exceptionally heavy?

Real quick: I love the shirt and pants. But we have to jump to the obvious talking point here: what in the name of Cabaret-at-Studio-54 is he holding up his pants with? One pair of suspenders is plenty, two just seems like a circus act.


That shirt has a lot of fish on it. It looks like something a person might wear ironically. Get it out of here.

There's only one episode left before the end of this season, at which point I'll have to invest in Season 7 DVDs. If anyone is interested in helping me out with that purchase (and thank you to those of you who have already chipped in), then a donation of even a dollar would be major. If not, no worries. I appreciate your readership. You could also click on an ad or two, or tell your friends about this blog so that I get more page views. It all helps!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Season 6, Episode 24: The Moves

Clair is going up against her friend and colleague Bernadette in a land dispute, and is working overtime to hash things out before the case has to go to court. Meanwhile, Jeffrey is handling his recent divorce by reinventing himself with lavish purchases, including insane clothes, a new hairpiece, and a sports car. When he meets Bernadette, however, he's smitten and quickly wishes to unchange the various changes he's made.


Gorlando Antonio Morales, playing Bernadette's administrative assistant, is credited as "Male Secretary." There are no female secretaries in this episode with whom to confuse him, but apparently it was nonetheless extremely important to highlight his gender. Like, can you believe it? A person with a penis taking a lunch order? As a job?! Will wonders never cease? His pants are so pleated that flat-front trousers cower in their presence. But otherwise this is a spiffy little office getup. I'm giving the tie a so-bad-it's-good pass, though I think I'm just in a positive mood, because it really deserves no reprieve. (Weird twist: Morales did not act again after this, but is credited as an actual assistant on a future episode)

I love her performance in this episode and everything else ever.

Clair's equal in smarts, style, and sass is played by the spectacular Mercedes Ruehl. This look is such a power play. On the one hand, the dress is cut a hair low and hemmed a hair short for the office, and especially when those dark tights are added, it suggests a late party more than a morning meeting. It's the weekend, but still. Unless she's trying to seduce the secretary (he is male, after all), one can only conclude that she's flaunting her wiles to intimidate Clair. The jacket, on the other hand, is a bold-patterned, wide-cut masterpiece, using the shoulders and lapels to extend her body the way a cornered cat might arch its back to scare predators. She's ready for battle.

Something something land war in Asia.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Wallace Shawn made so many guest appearances on this show. Here he is in his newly-selected threads. It's tough to look at this outfit as a fashion artifact since it's so clearly being deployed for laughs. In particular, the pants that are loose to the knee and then taper violently at the shins speak to the disparity between his age and the target audience for these garments. Trends in trouser tailoring are typically both embraced by a segment of the younger generation and mocked by most everyone else (think boot-cut, drop-crotch, all the way back to the zoot suits of which this is reminiscent). The palette isn't terrible, though the tie is off. But he's matched his suspenders to his shirt with an accuracy rarely attained by characters in this universe, so I'll give credit for that. But yeah: these are joke clothes.

Something Sicilian something.

Look, Jeff is no sex symbol. When you're trying to flirt with someone, play to your strengths. This is not a man that will inspire immediate lust. But, like a droopy pug, he is a man that some people will want to cuddle up with on a lonely night. To maximize that appeal, he goes with dull colors and a big, warm, inviting sweater. I'd hesitate to agree to get naked with this man, but I'd take in a movie and keep an open mind. At least he's being honest here, you know? That clown in the cobalt suit didn't stand a chance.

RuPaul's Drag Daycare.

This toupee looks better on Olivia anyway.

Theo is incredulous about everything. I'm incredulous about Theo.

It's 1990, so Theo wears a shirt with a 90 on it. I mean, that has to be why that number is there, right? I dunno, this isn't terrible (other than the tucked-in shirt), but it's not making me any more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt in the future.

All I need is the Clair that I breathe.

I'm skipping Denise's appearance at the beginning of the episode because she's in pajamas. While Clair owns several red coats, this appears to be a new one. Her episode #4.23 coat was similar, but had a matching red button instead of a gold one (and didn't appear to be cut in such a way that it could be closed anyhow). Her #5.3 blazer had lapels; this one does not. Ditto #5.14. So this is a new creation, and it's another winner. Of course she's buying more red: it looks phenomenal on her. And the cream dress underneath is equally triumphant. By employing simple construction and flat tones, she makes her outfit iconic. It's not plain: it's high-impact. I'd even suggest losing the pocket square, or at least swapping it out for something plain.

Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope...

This is the ugliest shirt Cliff has ever worn. It's a good thing the rest of his look is all beige and taupe, because my eyes aren't physically prepared for more than this.

As we near the end of the season, I'm going to throw the donation link up here once more. I need to order the Season 7 and 8 DVDs so I can keep this little blog rolling, and it'd be great to get a little help in that department. If you enjoy my writing and read regularly, please consider donating a few cents or even a whole dollar by clicking the PayPal button below. Think of it like a tip jar. Every little bit helps! Thanks, all.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Season 6, Episode 23: Off to See the Wretched

People tend to remember this episode, or at least the final moments. Vanessa, eager to see a band called The Wretched in concert, has conspired with her friends to fool their parents with a series of misleading truths. Though they will indeed be staying at Susan's house after the show, they never mention that Susan's parents will be away, or that they will be trekking to and from a venue in Baltimore. Of course, things get ugly all around: their car and then their concert tickets get stolen, while a paint factory fire makes Susan's grandmother an unlikely TV interviewee, unraveling the charade. The story ends with Clair tearing into Vanessa in a way that is at once funny and frightening.

Interesting factoid: Theo does not appear in front of the camera, but Malcolm-Jamal Warner still assisted with the production by making his debut as assistant director of this episode.

Preparation for his illustrious turn as 'n Cream.

Alec Mapa appears briefly in what I assume is the first properly-tailored t-shirt this show has ever seen. Previous evidence has suggested that, as of 1990, we did not have the technology to make a t-shirt small enough to fit Alec Mapa properly. Everything here except for the cap is good. I can't imagine how a post-Village People world could see that hat as the symbol of a heterosexual punk rock fan. I'd say that the show was trying to display the band's subversiveness by having a queer leather fetishist in the audience, but the generally conservative leanings of the narrative imply that this is an unintentional depiction of homosexuality.

Girl, you'd be so pretty if you'd just smile.

Speaking of scuzzy River Phoenix knock-offs that I'd totally bang for stolen concert tickets, here's Nicholas Sadler as the dirtbag who swindles the ladies out of their chance at seeing the band. What can I really say? He's trying, with some success, to look like a sleazeball portraying a teenager's impression of a security guard.


Friggin' Susan. She was the one who got Vanessa in trouble for drunkenness last time, and now she's concocted this ridiculous plan to take everyone to Baltimore. (To be fair, it should not have been this hard to get to Baltimore and back.) I'm not sure what her deal is in terms of dressing herself. Everyone else is at least pretending at dirty rock, and she's dressed like the gift shop at the Alamo. Get that throw rug out of here.

Street cred.

Kara loses her typical fast-talking qualities this week. She's also not layered to death, though I wouldn't call this look understated. Or fashionable. It's definitely biker chic as interpreted by the costume department on a sitcom, but it kind of works. I don't know if I believe that the Kara we've com to know would own this ensemble (by contrast, the previous look seems plausibly like the only black garment Susan owned), but I'll assume she borrowed from someone.

No one in this clique owns black eyeliner?

Sweet, innocent Janet Meiser is maybe wearing her older brother's t-shirt or something. It's huge, and again something I don't believe came out of her closet, so maybe that's an intentional choice to suggest a loaner. The jacket might be hers, though, as it fits and is only vaguely connected to the badass goddess theme she seems intent on portraying. These girls look mad suburban. Has Brooklyn taught them nothing?

Pay-by-the-minute hotlines, and other outdated references.

Olivia sticks to the bright pastels, though with the bold addition of a rainbow belt and a pin representing a couple from an unidentified indigenous culture.

Look at how invested she is.

Do I believe that Rudy is concerned here? Yes. Do I believe that she spends her nights watching the news? Not really. Do I think she's in pajamas? Possibly. The fact that I'm even questioning it means that this look is not a resounding success. (Though there are too many buttons for bedclothes... hard plastic circles with thin edges aren't generally comfortable to lie down on.)

Almost the victim of a mother eating her young.

At least Vanessa went for it with the biker boots; I'm especially fond of the anklet over the footwear. Black tights, denim skirt (with a black stripe) black tee, leather jacket: it's all fairly standard stuff, but at least it fits. It's a cohesive look that delivers marginally more realness than her friends' attempts.

What even?

At first I thought this was a pretty tame offering from Denise, but the more I look at that eye-on-an-appendage print, the more it seems really unnerving to me. The color story here is decent, if a little plain, and the neck scarf is a miss for me, though we're bounding headfirst into the '90s when chokers were all the rage, so I suppose she's getting in ahead of that trend. This is not her usual greatness, but it's fine.

Always and forever.

Here's the thing: I'm away from home and don't have access to my usual searchable archive. I'm fairly certain that Clair has already worn this absolutely perfect orange wrap top, but I could be mistaken. I'll update later when I can verify this hunch. Until then: this is an absolutely perfect orange wrap top. The size and length of the sash are just the right amount of overdone. Simple olive trousers are an ideal counterpoint. Brava.

So very not ballin'.

And finally, Cliff wears this. All day. I don't know anything about sports, but I know that he doesn't play for the Blazers. Whatever, he works hard and has earned his day off, so I shouldn't judge.

And there you have it: the day that Vanessa effed up again. Let's hope she has learned a valuable lesson about listening to her idiot, unfashionable friends. (Side note: the Huxtable children almost never get in trouble without the urging of some outside force. They're good kids who trust too easily, not bad kids who come up with their own ideas of how to break the rules. Key cop-out.)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Season 6, Episode 22: What It's All About

The show rarely comments on just how difficult it must be to raise five children while working a high-pressure job. Parenthood is typically a joke concern rather than a true challenge. This week changes that trend, with Clair coming home exhausted only to be bombarded with the petty concerns of her offspring, including two who have already moved out of the house and a third who should have by now. To make it up to her, Cliff ships her off to a cabin in the woods so that she can have some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, she ends up going to some crappy slum without heat or decent repair services. Somehow, this convinces her to forget being tired and just help her kids out, even though she should technically be even more exhausted now that her entire vacation has consisted of extended travel and sleepless nights.


Edmund Lyndeck appears as the cabin's gloriously unhelpful proprietor. His jacket is an affront.

Yes, I know that Wilford Brimley is the diabetes guy and not this dude.

Luckily, he changes into a much less offensive outfit the next day. It's not exactly runway-ready, but at least it doesn't hurt my feelings. (We never see him step out from behind the counter. Assume what you will about his lower half.)

I had hoped for better from you.

The script specifies that Olivia is in her bedclothes during her scene, so I'm skipping straight to Rudy. She has a lot of problems with her skirt. First off, it's way too high. Second, it's being kept in place by both a belt and suspenders, which is insane. Third, it appears to be unbuttoned in the front. If she rectified those issues, she might have a solid thing going here. I'd ditch the multicolored straps, which are out of place in this otherwise sedate creation. The embroidery on her shirt is a better means of subtly adding color and interest.

Please study your mother and sisters more closely.

Did you know that there's such a thing as too much floral print?

Better than it has any right to be.

When Vanessa wore this dress in episode #5.11, it was darker and had metallic points on the collar. It's still clearly the same garment, as shown by the other markings, but it's been through the wash and probably bleached. I'm not entirely sold on the "Old West" reference point as a whole, even though she executes it well. The fringed vest and boots complete the image, while the leggings bring it into modern Brooklyn, but it's still like hearing a good singer perform a song I hate: technically accurate but unsatisfying nonetheless.

Get rid of that red tint, Sinbad.

How often do college students actually walk around wearing sweatshirts from their college? I never did this when I was in school. Theo is forever trying to convince us that he actually goes to NYU. I buy it. I mean, he's clearly not going to FIT.

Dat wave do.

Denise's vintage hair today is everything. It's going to have to be, because the rest of her look is a little slack. The roominess doesn't work for her as well as it has with previous efforts because the fabric is too stiff: she looks tenty rather than flowy. Nothing can go well 100% of the time, I suppose.

Do. Not. Sass. This. Woman.

Clair's color-on-color work for her suits is always significant, and this is no exception. That deep aubergine skirt fits her ideally, and the jacket is only slightly too shoulder-y. But the way the shades play against each other? Sublime. And she doesn't shy from further pizzazz, either, working a richly patterned blouse that integrates the dark purple and pale yellow while boldly introducing greens, oranges, and blues. By flashing just a hint of print at the collar, she ensures that she is teasing these hues without abusing them. She might look harried now, but she was in her right mind when she got dressed this morning.


Not a great vacation.

Seen it.

This is a repeat of Cliff's episode #6.3 outfit, albeit with mildly different suspenders.

Fool me once...

In another of his sweater illusions, Cliff presents as though he's wearing a cardigan when in fact he is wearing a full sweater with a cardigan printed onto it. Tricky tricky.

We're creeping ever closer to the next season! I'm going to have to order those DVDs soon. I might put up the donation link again so that y'all can cover that investment for me.