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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Season 6, Episode 13: Elvin Pays for Dinner

Sondra and Elvin plan to take two of Elvin's old college friends, one of whom is possibly an ex, out for dinner. When Sondra cancels at the last minute, however, she encourages her husband to attend anyway, even though she's seething on the inside. This whole episode makes me want to be single forever. Rudy and Vanessa have the right idea: they just watch old movies all day.

Oh, and take note: this is the first episode of the show to air in the '90s. Most of the rest of this season was probably still filmed in 1989, though.

Peanuts? Pretzels? Compliemntary Coke product?

Elvin's "dates" for the night are actually two Tony-nominated actresses. First up is Brenda Braxton, giving us tall hair and two-tone jacket. It's a look that is very of-its-time. The eagle printed onto the chest offends me the most, for some reason. Probably because it seems like an airline logo.

Look her up on YouTube. Her "Somewhere That's Green" is everything.

Holy shit, you guys: Elvin knows Tonya Pinkins! She is a true diva and deserves better than this. First off, why are she and her friend (who I maybe remember is supposed to be her cousin) wearing matching-ish outfits? Like, black skirt, boldly hued blazer. It's not identical, but it's weirdly complementary. They look like they're in the chorus of the same show or something. (I'd have to look it up, but it's entirely possible that they were, at this point in their careers.) Anyhow, she needs a brighter jewel tone; this forest green is too dowdy.

All of her clothes look like repeats, but none of them are!

Olivia is really committed to her color palette.

Don't you sass me, young lady.

I'm not sure why I bothered to research it, since it's a yellow sweatshirt and who cares, but Rudy first wore this top (with a slightly lighter shirt underneath it) in episode #5.3. The jeans barely get shown, but they're jeans, so, like, the end.

She's sad about the film. Or maybe life, I don't know.

Rudy has rolled her sweatpants before, but apparently never in yellow. Likewise, this appears to be a new sweatshirt, though the size of it implies that it's a castoff from one of her older sisters. Was it shown on the show before? I think not, but possibly. The whole thing is slouch-o-rama regardless. But hey, she's just watching movies all day. Wait until Netflix comes out, kid. You don't even know.

She's talking about how she likes to live fancy. Rich kids, man.

Your cardigan game is slipping, Vanessa. This is much too much. The idea is right, but a cropped top with high jeans needs higher jeans and a cropped-er top. And definitely not this top. Never wear this top.

Since she wore it more than once, it's an in-vest-ment. GET IT? (I'm sorry.)
Vanessa resurrects her episode #5.24 vest (over her #6.7 t-shirt), and I have to say that it's growing on me. In this context, where it's more obviously the oddball piece in a plain outfit, it almost works. If the pants didn't actively clash, I'd be pretty pleased with this presentation.

This running gag isn't running fast enough.

These days, Theo just shows up to steal food and wear ugly clothes. He has no other purpose.

Nope.

Ignore Clair (we'll get to her in a minute). Denise appears briefly in this, which I assume is pajamas. It had better be pajamas. I'm not letting this not be pajamas.

Girl, just go to dinner and have fun like a person.

Similarly, Sondra's first outfit is sweats. She's working on her law school application, so I guess this is to remind herself that she has academic credentials. We all need extra assurance sometimes.

Final boss of the Hamptons.

She should get mad at Elvin more often, because I'm feeling this getup. The fringed wool skirt is objectively just a fashion blanket, but it works because the Connecticut-fright-wife battle armor she has up top positively dares you to question her. The lace, the structure, the beigeness, even the volume, they all come together for me. Check that high neck, and the matching pocket square... and the rust belt over the whole thing? This is right.

IT'S A TRAP!

Elvin revisits his episode #6.9 coat, with a bunch of blues and olives beneath it. It's a better fit, but still not ideal. He does not know what to do with that garment, the poor lamb.

He doesn't even live in the suburbs.

Green plaid ain't bad. This is all fine, and well within his faux-wilderness suburban dad comfort zone.

Face. Letting you have it.

We touched on Clair earlier, but here's a fuller exploration. It takes defiance to wear a sweater that ugly, and she comes damn close to pulling it off. The palette of mustard, brick, and eggplant is so wrong that it's right, but the whole flowers-and-stirrup-pants concoction is just a nightmare. I can tell that there's more to that print, too... maybe cats? I don't want to know.

Let's just pretend that doesn't look like a red sperm.

This is a better sweater. It's got a sort of art deco thing going on, but in a very '80s way. Plain black pants were the way to go, too. Keep it simple. I'm a little in love with her getup here, though I couldn't tell you why. I think probably because it's not the other outfit.

Stray observation: he looks good in purple.

This, to me, is prime Cosby Sweater. It's like he took two or three different garments and shuffled them like a deck of cards. The final impact is weirdly cohesive, though, and yet remains a piece that only he should wear. That sickly chartreuse would seldom favor anyone, but thrown in among the purples, it suits him. And I'm typically bothered by too much dreary darkness in a look, but I'll accept it here. He's kind of owning it.

Who's that brooo-o-o-ooo-ooown...

As shown in episode #6.5, Cliff loves to wear these suspenders with a swirly shirt. This isn't an outright paisley, though it sort of suggests one. I think the human brain strives to find a pattern, and his clothing serves as the maelstrom that prevents such order-seeking behaviors. He really should have been a psychologist rather than an obstetrician. I wish everything in this look were a little more differentiated in terms of tone, though: too many oranges and red-browns. It's a mush.

So hey, since I'm late all the time with my writing, allow me to at least direct you to other places where you can read what I'm doing. I also recap RuPaul's Drag Race for Geeks OUT, and Girls for Queerty, and Looking for NewNowNext. Or you could follow my @GayLizLemon Twitter account. There's probably other stuff I could link you to as well, but that'll do for now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Season 6, Episode 12: Getting to Know You

Martin proposes some alone time with Cliff, since the two don't know each other well. Their day together ends up being super patriarchal: they bond over the fact that they're both military men and that Denise was a virgin on her wedding night. (Seriously, they're way too happy about that tidbit. They all but high five.) Just to make sure the emphasis on male dominance is hammered home, they end the episode with a brief re-enactment of the wedding, not because Cliff was sad about missing the event, but because he feels the need to give his daughter away. Like, straight-up transfer of ownership. Not having it.

Why does that woman have reality TV judging face on?

Tracey Ross and JoAnna Rhinehart appear early on as two women who are for-real flirting with Martin, and then as-a-joke flirting with Cliff, and then not-at-all flirting with Theo. Ms. Rhinehart wins for that big pink sweater; nothing else here is any good, and we can't see much of it anyhow.

DAT BOW.

Olivia continues to dress like a homeless hippie clown, which we probably should have expected from Denise's child. Her scenes this episode are culturally important because she gets a quick lesson in what would then have been called political correctness from her mom. (She is urged to say African-American instead of black and Caucasian instead of white.) Even better is the reason why she uses those terms: she's asking, a good 25 years before Fox News got there, what Santa's ethnicity is. Consensus in the Huxtable household is that Mr. Claus can be whatever racial makeup he chooses, given that he is a magical man known for living in an uninhabitable tundra, fraternizing with elves, and visiting every global Christian household in a 24-hour window. I'll trust their judgment on this one.

Keep trying, not-as-cute one.

Rudy serves up her episode #6.10 skirt with matching tights from last week, a bold geometric sweatshirt, and a yellow turtleneck. There's a lot of rainbow fantasia happening here, and I'm not gonna lie, it comes off as a direct shot at Olivia. Don't be the Madonna trying to scoop Britney's style. You're not going to get younger, you just have to figure out how to make older work for you. This isn't the answer.

A brief but memorable appearance.

This outfit demonstrates Vanessa's continued interest in cardigans and high-waisted pants, though not necessarily a maturing of her aesthetic eye. By fastening the sweater only at the top, she causes it to flare outward, widening her right at the hips while masking all the shaping done by the slacks. The whole point of that tailoring is to accentuate the trimmest center part of her torso, and she obscures that entirely, instead creating this unflattering teardrop silhouette. It's the wrong pairing of garments. I also don't like the red and blue of her cardigan against the yellow blouse underneath; primary colors bother me, as you've probably noticed by now.

This mess.

The worst sin about this oatmeal turtleneck is that it's boring. Considering how much worse it could be, I'm tempted to forgive Theo for this one. It's a perfectly inoffensive getup. I'd rather he L. L. Bean me to death than some of the other bullshit he's pulled lately. (Oh, and for those of you wondering, I'm pretty sure that rat tail is still there, which means he's lucky I deign to include him in these recaps at all.)

She woke up like this.

Loving that haircut, Denise. She's back with another pair of big, loose, men's-style trousers, this time in a subtle print. Giant wool pants don't sound flattering, but she knows how to make them work. The top is free without actually being wildly loose; it still has structure and gives a sense of her shape, and its ability to emphasize her small torso balances the mass of fabric below. The dusty rose hue is just beautiful and makes a nice counterpoint to the grandpa slacks, too. This is another one of those casual masterpieces that she doles out like they're not difficult to produce. Oh, how I adore her.

Tuck everlasting.

So you're telling me that two women hit on Martin even though he had his sweater tucked into his mom jeans? Not buying it.

It could have been worse.

How many red coats does Sondra have? Too many, that's how many. And if she had to buy another one, why this one? It's not exceptionally well tailored and the length is a little scant without actually becoming a stylish cropped situation. I'm not going to fault her for the black dress or skirt/tee combo or whatever because that's just always going to be correct. I'll also forgive the pin because she's about to go do charity work with children and it's probably for them.

Why did they have fake ears in the house already?

Elvin dresses like an elf this week. No comment needed.

It couldn't have been worse.

You know how I know this episode has misogynist undertones? Because they put Clair in the ugliest outfit she's ever worn. I don't even want to talk about it. I'm getting sad just uploading this screencap.

Crop circles on crack.

Cliff's sweater is the basis for a bonus stage in a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Call him sir.

He changes into his uniform later to show off for Martin.

There's nothing in that spoon.

Oddly, when he changed into his uniform, he put this new shirt on, which he kept up after removing the jacket. Not sure what that was about, but I guess it looks nice enough. A little dark, maybe, given the maroon suspenders and rich brown pants, but not terrible. (Also, I'm pretty sure this is not his episode #3.7 shirt, though it's possible that three years and different lighting have altered the color.)

And now my usual apology about being late with the entry. I could just change it and say that new posts go up every Wednesday night, but then I'd miss THAT deadline and posts would go up on Saturday... I just can't go down that road.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Season 6, Episode 11: Cliff la Douce

IMDb lists this episode as "Cliff la Dolce," but I'm pretty sure they're wrong. The plot centers on what a terrible father Cliff is: while Clair and Denise are out of town, he is left without mothers to guide him through the process of raising girls. I dunno, it seems to me like he'd have a solid handle on the process by now.

Since when does this place have table service?

There are a few guests this week, but only one new one: Traci Wolfe as the waitress Theo hits on. Other than this, her only other acting gig has been the role of Danny Glover's daughter in the Lethal Weapon movies. Her ensemble here is not good, really. Other than the black/red combination, she gets essentially nothing right. The narrowly pleated skirt, long vest with sparkly embellishments, and gigantic bow all read as childish, the shirt is too casual, the zipped collar is too ski bunny, and the purple tights don't fit with the rest of the getup. Litany of failures.

When does her song and dance number come?

Stritchy is back as Rudy's teacher, delivering another iteration of the same outfit in a different color scheme. Skirt, sweater vest, blouse, crossover tie. She's doubling down on the shoulder pads this week, which is a mistake, but the khakis and creams suit her well. I'm not convinced that the pinwheels are the best possible print for her little cardigan, but she's in the right vicinity.

Why even write him in if he's not debating gender roles with Rudy?!

Kenny wears a red shirt and olive pants and there's probably more to say about fit and the unconventional collar and those fasteners that are probably snaps but really, how much time are we going to spend on a child? Not much.

These dunces.

Given how brief their appearance is, I'm stunned that Howard and Lou were provided with new shirts to wear. They're decent shirts. Whatever. I'm moving quick here because I'm already so late writing this thing. Really super sorry, guys.

Tolerance, thy name is Justine.

Is anyone else confused about why Justine stays with Theo? We never see them happy together; she exists only to catch him in the act of flirting with other women. She's repeating two pieces from episode #5.21 here: the dangly pin from her first outfit and the pants we barely saw in her second appearance. I think the top half of her look works better if we don't view it as connected to the floral lower part. Something about the color story breaks down for me. But as separate entities, these portions each function well, and I'll allow that jacket even though its breadth far outstrips her actual shoulders. She's quite petite, I'd imagine it's hard for her to find clothing in exactly the right size.

I performed rudimentary image editing tasks for you. You're welcome.

Olivia's another one who probably doesn't need a new outfit for every episode, and yet here we are.

No one is cute enough to make this right.

She actually gets two looks this week, and the second one is essentially a clown costume. Like, the baggy pants, the big frilly collar, the wild colors? Clown. She's a literal clown now.

And this is what we pick to bring back?

Rudy's first appearance is seated, so all we know for sure is that she's repeating her episode #6.7 shirt.

She must be jealous that the clothing budget went to the guest stars.

This is mostly a repeat, too: the giant sweater is from episode #6.5. I liked it better with jeans, because its length almost obscures the denim skirt she's wearing, and I don't want people to think she's walking around without any bottoms on! The red tights and yellow socks are a bit garish, but they're technically present already in the main garment, so I'll let that slide.

NO BUGS NO!

Bugs. Vanessa's top is covered with bugs. It's huge and covered with bugs. No no no no no.

Amazingly not that much better than the bugs.

I usually like it when Vanessa gets bolder with her choices, but this isn't OK with me. Everything feels too fussy. The stripes in her pants are distracting rather than chic. Her vest game is usually on point, but these embellishments don't grab me, and the piece itself isn't as flattering in its shape as some of her other ones. I guess the while blouse is nice, but it needs a whole different ensemble to support it, because it's doing nothing here.

Ugh/

Honestly, whenever Theo wears something that's not a sweatshirt, I'm inclined to give him a little leeway. But these comically voluminous pleated trousers are hurting my heart. I get where he was headed with the turtleneck under the buttoned shirt, but chartreuse and maroon don't scream "yacht club" like that combination of garments is really intended to. Really, that shirt is gross all around, but especially in this context the shade is totally offensive.

She should be responsible for dressing everyone in the house.

Denise, oddly, provides an excellent example of how best to execute the approach Theo was trying to deliver. She has a similar color scheme in her pants and vest (is that a vest?), but the grayer shade in her trousers and richer green above, along with a slight shimmer, make everything seem kind of fancy and cohesive. The tailoring is more intentional all around, too, so she's really wearing the clothes rather than getting slowly eaten by them. The coat is kind of swank, but it's covered with baubles, which takes it to a casual place, as does the small, almost careless head wrap. I'm most impressed with that white shirt, though, which is so delicate and organic that it may as well be an orchid draped over her neck and wrists. True beauty.

Spook-tacular.

You know I'll defend Clair whenever I can, but this isn't her greatest creation. The silhouette is right, and that blouse is divine, but the black-and-white palette along with the weird upholstery-like patterning in her jacket make me think of Halloween. She's dressed like an extra in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

OH NO WHAT HAPPENED

Yikes. Things do not get better when we pop in on her in Washington. I don't know what kind of meeting or convention or support group she went to, but there is absolutely no occasion for which that garment is appropriate.

Speaking of inappropriate...

The detailing on those fireworks is incredible, but the depiction of the Twin Towers is now just sad. This sweater is a little too NEVER FORGET for my tastes. Sorry, Cliff: you couldn't have known.

Does anyone... still wear... a hat?

Look how suave the doctor can be when he tries! Like, if he got rid of that tie and picked something classic, this would be a serious situation. I understand that the goofy attire befits his persona, but I wish he'd be this dapper more often, because it works.

OK, I know I keep apologizing for turning these entries in so late, and apologies are empty if I don't shape up. Thanks for bearing with me. Also, I'm looking for a job: any of my dear readers know someone who's hiring writers? Because I can totally do that.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Season 6, Episode 10: Grampy and NuNu Visit the Huxtables

Denise is horrified that Martin's parents are visiting because she knows, per her husband's description, that Mrs. Kendall can't stand her. It ends up being a big misunderstanding, and everyone is happy in the end. I wish all my problems could be solved in half an hour...

Maybe Martin's dad is an occultist?

Mr. Kendall is named Joe, just like Clair's father. He has appeared previously, in episode #5.18, as Dr. Lotus. And I'm pretty sure he's wearing Grandpa Russell's blazer (seen several times, but first in #2.23). It's weird that there's so much reuse going on here. I guess we've run out of ideas for new characters? Anyhow, ignoring the repetition, I like the slate pants with this jacket, and I find myself loving the bold, almost rustic stitching along his tie. The neckwear is maybe not ideal for this outfit, but since it seems intentionally out of place, I'm into it. This man has personality.

Turns out she loves Denise, because duh.

Lorraine Kendall is played by Grammy-winning jazz singer Nancy Wilson. She's doing that thing where she sticks to a single color family in different shades, and it bears resemblance to something that's working, but in reality it's just not. Choose a contrasting hue, for heaven's sake! If I were to give this a free pass, it would be because the skirt is practically purple and the blazer is a glorious plaid. And really the silhouette's only flaw is the shoulder pad. But the velvet(een?) collar is wrong and the satin blouse, while lovely, shouldn't be a matching red.

She brought cute to the party.

Olivia knows how to construct a palette. (OK, Denise does.)

Too much time with her brother, I think.

I assume that Rudy is caged in that sweater as a punishment for a misdeed that this episode didn't have time to explain. Maybe when she learns to behave, she can wear the nice skirt and turtleneck by themselves, which will be a huge improvement.

Yes that's the same screencap. What of it?

No Vanessa this week, so let's look at Theo's latest disappointment. Orange turtleneck, green pants, pockets everywhere. Surely there's a fashion course at NYU he could be taking.

I'm running out of ways to express my love for her.

Denise is dressed in her absolute best because she wants to impress Martin's parents. The queen of turning complexity into a cohesive ensemble, she combines this intricate, tapestry-like coat/shirt hybrid with short patchwork pants in a way that should feel frighteningly busy but instead seems effortless, as though the pieces were always meant to be together. The plain white tee underneath is the one sign of restraint.

Not having it.

Further evidence that she is perfect: when Martin gives her this conservative cardigan to wear as a means of impressing his mother, she makes this face directly to the camera. The sweater totally doesn't go, and yet it nearly does because she could wear anything.

The man is always wrong on this show. Always.

I guess Martin got the monochrome gene from his mom. This is a great outfit with the contrast turned all the way down.

Serving it.

PERFECT WRAP BLOUSE ALERT! PERFECT WRAP BLOUSE ALERT!

Honestly, that is just the most divine garment. And set against those loose trousers? Oh my days.

This is his cake-stealing walk.

Cliff's sweater palette is like, "do you think there are marathons in Hell?" It's a good garment overall, but so much fire! A little to intense for me. And yes, there are marathons in my version of Hell, says the man who sits at a computer all day.

I'll end with yet another apology about how I never post these on Mondays anymore. See you on... I dunno, next Friday probably, at the pace I'm going.