Did you know that a television show doesn't even have to be good to be watchable, if the wardrobes are interesting enough? For example, the mind-numbing cop/M.E. drama Rizzoli & Isles is a perfectly fine way to kill a lunch hour, because Isles has kind of a sweet wardrobe. Remember how terrible CSI: Miami was? We all do, but it was so much fun watching the show's longtime M.E., Dr. Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander) show up to crime scenes in crisp, white pants and high heels--even when the crime scene was in the middle of a swamp.
I always feel so bad for television characters who are sentenced to the same outfits week after week. Lost is one example, 24 another; shows whose casts are limited by circumstance to the same clothes all the time. I used to get so excited for Kate when Lost would do a flashback episode where she could be both hot and clean, with a cute outfit to boot.
Aside from just throwing great clothes on an actor or actress, the right wardrobe makes a character complete; it's unspoken, but powerful communication with the audience. So without further ado, let's take a look at some of the better wardrobes gracing our airwaves these days. You won't find one character from Revolution on the list, I promise you.
Best Period Wardrobe: Joan Harris, Mad Men
It's only natural that a period piece like Mad Men make the list. The show has had its own impact on the fashion world since it began its run on AMC in 2007, with retailers like Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers licensing the show for various promotional campaigns.
On a drama full of well-dressed men and women it is hard to pick a clear winner. Betty Draper is a close runner-up, but Christina Hendricks's Joan wins because she's even better-dressed than the actress who plays her. Hendricks has a voluptuous bod that make sweaters and knee-length skirts look impossibly sexy, and her '60s wardrobe often looks better on her than her red carpet award outfits.
Best Houston-Appropriate Wardrobe: Fiona Glenanne, Burn Notice
Burn Notice just announced that its seventh and final season will be airing this summer, and that means no more Michael and Fiona. Boo! It also means no more watching Fiona run around in huge, laced-up wedge sandals while she blows up the bad guys. Set in Miami, the show dresses all of its characters in that context, but Fiona is by far the most fashionable. Her clothes are an effortless blend of sexy and utilitarian--loose cargo pants with backless tanks, maxi-dresses with plunging necklines and easy access to a hidden holster, and an endless parade of bikinis paired with sheer beach cover-ups.
Best Power Suits: Olivia Pope, Scandal
It's cool to have a Washington D.C.-centric show that gives women in power a stylish look. (I miss you, C.J. Cregg/Allison Janney!) One only has to watch a few minutes of CNBC, or the Sunday morning shows, to see that most of Washington's most powerful women have not, in fact, embraced anything outside of a boxy business suit. I'm not calling for more political sex appeal, just some basic tailoring.
Runner up: Alicia Florrick, The Good Wife (Julianna Margulies)--she was so great opposite The Clooney on ER but now she gets to wear awesome clothes instead of scrubs.
Best Good Girl: Annie Edison, Community
Quirky, smart, funny Annie--what an interesting character. On paper she seems so unlikeable but her type-A compulsions are balanced by insecurity and innocence that make her endearing. At the same time, she has an aesthetic appeal that the men in her study group can't deny. I find the wardrobe choices for this character to be spot-on: prim cardigans over floral-print dresses, Annie's femininity is in stark contrast to Britta's overly-cool, feminista-chic jeans and t-shirts.
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Best Over-the-top-Summer-Programming Wardrobe: The entire cast of Mistresses
First of all, the promos are hilarious: four hot women, arms around one another, walking on a beach and staring at the sunset as the wind blows their differently-colored gowns, and waves come crashing in. The show premiered this week, and fulfilled completely the ridiculous promise of its commercials. The show describes itself as "a provocative and thrilling drama about the scandalous lives of a sexy and sassy group of four girlfriends, each on her own path to self-discovery." This morning's Washington Post review of the premier describes it as, "a surfeit of glossy little passion plays about women in their late 30s or early 40s wearing designer heels and committing designer adultery." Hey, at least I'm not watching The Bachelorette.