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, June 2, 2014

Season 6, Episode 26: The Storyteller

Here it is: the final show of the season. To close us out, the writers have introduced a character known as Gramtee, Cliff's great aunt. She's old, she's feisty, she's pious, and she's full of stories about the family's history. Her main triumph, however, is convincing Olivia to come to church instead of going to the zoo with her friend.

Actual realness.

The preacher is played by Rev. Eugene Callendar. He appears not as an actor, but as an actual minister and civil rights advocate. He passed away in November.


The soloist at the church? Mavis Staples. And over her shoulder? Is that Miss Lillias White? Looks like Olivia made the right choice for her Sunday activity.

Her delivery of "I want my cake" is deserving of a special Emmy.

Minnie Gentry, who was 75 at the time of filming, plays 90-something Gramtee. In addition to age make-up, she's wearing the things you'd associate with an old woman: a long-sleeved, fairly shapeless dress with a matching topcoat, a string of pearls, big glasses, an updo, and an actual shawl. This is pretty much exactly what you'd buy if I sent you to a thrift store with ten minutes to create an old lady Halloween costume. Well, maybe you wouldn't pick such a delicious pattern for your dress, so I guess the costume department here deserves a little credit.

We were promised a tantrum this episode, but none occurred.

Olivia is still playful in this little romper, but her palette is much more muted than usual. I'd expect these colors in the bedspread at my local Marriott, but less so on our nation's favorite sass-mouthed moppet. Was she afraid of inducing a heart attack in her elderly relative with all her excess pizzazz?

I'm getting pretty bored with Rudy. When does she go away to college?

Rudy last wore this outfit in episode #6.19, but pairs it here with her blazer from #5.26. I'm not sure I can support this mash-up; it's a little much. It might just be that I'm not overly fond of that jacket, though.

Nearly there.

I give Vanessa a world of credit, because trying to match something to this dress is sort of a losing battle, and she's doing her damnedest. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where adding a complementary shade just isn't going to cut it. Against all odds, I actually love that dress, but it's got so much going on that it needs to be the only focal point. Everything else should be strictly background. By adding new hues, even ones that accent the main garment, she's making things too chaotic. The look becomes overwhelming. Honestly, this might be a piece best worn on its own. But again: she comes close, and I like this more than one might anticipate I would.

This dude.

Theo's collection of buttoned shirts and mock turtlenecks continues to grow, much to my dismay.

What's with all the green this week?

Oh, Denise, how I adore your goofball aesthetic. This is her #6.11 vest (that's the same vest, right?) set against a lovely lace top, and then dropped atop a pair of pants made for a heavy-set old man. The delicate, dowdy, and dude-y all merge here, along with a blast of modern fun injected via the shimmering chartreuse. She is, as ever, a joy.


Go ahead and get comfy, Clair. The pattern on this top could be used in a formal creation, but this particular piece is such a tent on her that it's hard to interpret it as anything other than sloppy. I get the impression of an artist's drop cloth. And since the pants are similarly loose, she just sort of seems like she's still in her pajamas. I want to love everything she wears, and I'm not saying this is ugly per se, but it feels like a lazy outfit for reading a book by the window rather than something you'd put on to greet a respected elder into your home.

No, really. The green is everywhere.

See? Cliff knows how to style it up for Gramtee. This is a delightful Easter-colored confection of a weekend business-casual presentation. He pushes the boundaries by setting the horizontal stripes of the sweater vest against the more muted vertical stripe on the shirt, but otherwise goes with soft, well-matched tones to create a look that won't blind the poor woman. Well done. (But button that last button, dude.)

Intoxicated with the spirit of the Lord.

Everyone changes for church the next day, but we barely see them; Mavis Staples is (rightly) the focus. Gramtee wears a hat because of course, Clair is ravishing in rose, Vanessa is cravishing in crimson, and Rudy sits in just the right place to make Cliff look like he has a majestic mullet. Sondra and Elvin are vaguely visible in the back there, giving us some more springy greens because I guess this episode didn't have enough of that yet.


That's right, Denise. You are the best. Martin never misses a chance to wear his uniform, and Theo finally wears something I might like but remains hidden in the background. Let's hope season 7 brings his redemption.

And there you have it, my dears. We are officially 3/4 finished with this series. Can you believe it? I kind of can't, honestly. Like, how did this become a think that I do? Since I can no longer put off buying the Season 7 DVDs, I'm including the donation link below as a sort of virtual tip jar. This site began in July of 2009, and it's been a one-man show the whole time, so any and all support is much appreciated. See you next week with the new credits sequence!

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