Is It TV, Or Is It Me?

I hear a lot of talk about how television as we know it is threatened or, “under attack”. Apparently people are leaving cable in droves and opting for streaming services. Ratings are down on many television programs/networks, and often, I hear that my generation is to blame (because Millennials ruin everything, duh). But I don’t think its as simple as blaming any particular demographic, or even finding fault in new technology. I think the problem is far more complex.

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Elementary My Dear Watson: Lucy Liu, Gender Roles, and Power Suits.

I really don’t know shit about fashion. I won’t pretend that I do. I basically live in lounge wear, and though I wish I could step out of my (literal) comfort zone, I feel intimated and overwhelmed whenever I consider trying (but nonetheless, I am trying. I bought a necklace at the thrift store the other day, which, if you knew me at all, you’d know what a big deal that was!), but that doesn’t stop me from scanning through Instagram appreciating other people’s fashion sense. The same goes for Television.

We know I watch a lot of TV, and expert or not, there’s plenty to both love and loathe when it comes to television wardrobes. I (mostly) enjoyed watching Sex and the City, but oh goodness, I feel like I was the only one to hate Carrie Bradshaw’s outfits!! Who walks around in a tutu?! On my past blog, I wrote an ode to the fashion of Frasier character Daphne Moon, and recently on this blog, I wrote about Roz Doyle. All of these characters, presented a more or less typical femininity when it comes to what we expect from television. Different styles, yes, but these characters all portray strong females.

Wardrobes are a very mindful choice. They’re put together to give a certain vibe for a character, or to reflect different emotions. Sometimes wardrobe is used to reflect or foreshadow (for example, how Meredith Grey wears Derek’s ferry boat scrub cap following his death). The idea that we shouldn’t judge others on their appearance goes totally out the window when it comes to TV because we not only can’t help it, but we have to. Television has to portray to us an entire world, and unlike a book, there aren’t unlimited pages for character development and background stories. How a character dresses can help to tell us more about them.

I’ve always adored Lucy Liu’s wardrobe as Joan Watson on Elementary. From the very beginning it has been perfection. She pretty much lives in clothing that goes beyond my comfort zone, but which is still absolutely my style if I didn’t have said comfort zone. Even when an ensemble might have been a bit out there, it worked. Watson is strong and confident enough that she could likely make anything work. As the show has progressed, we have seen an evolution in her clothing choices. As Joan has gone from sober companion, to Sherlock’s partner and fellow consulting detective, she has largely dropped the more flowy, distinctly feminine outfits in favor of suits that many might consider more masculine. Yet, that’s just the thing: I’d argue that in the suits Watson has been opting for in past seasons, as well as this current one, she’s even more feminine, because through wardrobe choices, she is challenging the idea of what is femininity. 

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