“How come Gibbs is wearing a coat in Arizona in the summer?”

I was talking to Garry. It was an NCIS rerun. We watch a lot of reruns, though this new fall season of TV is shaping up better than I expected, so maybe there will be new shows to watch.

The question about costumes comes up often and on various shows. One of the more common “duh” moments is when the male lead is wearing a coat and the female lead is skimpily dressed. No explanation needed for that one.

More weird is when each cast member is dressed randomly, apparently without regard for the plot. One is wearing a heavy winter coat, another a light denim jacket. A third is in shirtsleeves. Some are clothed in jeans or other casual stuff while others look ready for Wall Street … or a cocktail party. Women are supposedly hiking. Or running from or after serial killers while wearing 4-inch spike heels. My feet hurt looking at them.

Garry and I have done a tiny bit of movie “extra” work so I’m guessing it goes like this:  “Go find something that fits in wardrobe and be on set in ten.”

Everyone hustles off to wardrobe, which looks like a jumble sale or the clothing racks at the Salvation Army store. Most of the clothing in the wardrobe probably came from some second-hand source or other.


Everyone dives in hoping to find something that fits. As soon as they find an outfit … any outfit … they head for a changing booth, then off to be on set before someone yells at them. Stars get a better wardrobe but often wear their own clothes. Wearing one’s own clothing on TV shows and in movies is common. I understand why. At least you know it looks good on you and it fits, not something you can otherwise count on.

The real question is not why everyone on a show is poorly or inappropriately dressed. It’s whether or not the people who produce the show thinks the audience won’t notice.

My theory is they don’t care if we notice or not. They don’t want to spend money on a wardrobe. They figure if you and I notice, we won’t care. In any case, we’ll keep watching. And they’re right, to a point. Wardrobe is an area where corners can be easily cut.

The thing is, we do notice. You don’t need to be a professional critic or especially astute to see the incongruities of television costuming.

It’s not just costumes, either. Sloppy editing, crappy scripts, stupid plots that include blatant factual and continuity errors. Eventually, we do stop watching. Because it’s obvious they don’t care so why should we?

You notice it on long-running shows that originally had good scripts and editing, but not anymore. The quality of the show slides. Producers are baffled when loyal fans stop tuning in. Obvious to a normal person, but apparently incomprehensible to network executives. Disrespect for viewers is at the root of much of the illness besetting the TV industry.

They should be nicer to us. We are supposedly their customers, aren’t we?

Categories: film, Humor, Marilyn Armstrong, Media, Shopping, Television

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8 replies

  1. I was an extra on Cool Runnings with John Candy. (And a set painter on Unforgiven – Clint Eastwood.)
    On Cool Runnings I was a Bobsled coach. They had one for every Country in the competition, but we were 2 extra bobsled coaches – I was one. They ran our of Countries. We’d been given these bobsled snowsuits. Curiously, all the bobsled Coaches representing Countries were dismissed at some point – but not us. We stayed around till the end.
    That set was very loose with people wandering onto the film location from around Olympic Park. Go figure? At one point – between shots – I just walked right up to John Candy and chatted with him for about 10 minutes. Hell of a guy – no pretentions whatsoever. And I always felt his death was a big loss because I felt his best work – some serious roles – were ahead of him.
    I was making 50 bucks a day (1993) and that sustained me for a while. Interesting memories …


  2. I’ve wondered about this before, over the years, but I chalked it up to maybe them not caring yet (maybe more so) because sometimes people dress oddly in real life. I saw a bald man with no cap out shopping in the cold a few days ago but then noticed he also had shorts on (as well as a light-and-not-cold-weather jacket). I probably try too hard, or am rather forgiving when watching a show someone else likes, to make “sense” of or excuses for things where sense isn’t required; I appreciate this post of yours!


    • People in New England do that as an objection to winter. Garry used to do that but only until he got really COLD. As we have gotten older, we are always cold, so there’s no messing around with the weather.


      • I, personally, am at an age where I’m usually quite warm. (I used to be cold or chilly almost no matter what except in the height of summer over eighty degrees.) Yet, I won’t go out in shorts in December or winter weather. But I don’t require a coat to be comfortable at all times, also don’t go out with short sleeves.


  3. Excellent post. Never really thought about it before but I bet I’ll notice now. KL ♥️


  4. You make excellent points here. I can’t say clothing catches my eye–unless it’s a military uniform and there is something wrong with it. That sticks out to me. Bad accents are something I pay attention to as well.

    I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and I’m concerned that, despite the money put toward some really good shows/scripts/casts there is now an attitude that the viewing audience can just suck it up. Everything tends to be left on a cliff-hanger and then they cancel the series. This has happened to a show I was really starting to enjoy–I Am Not Okay With This. Or, if they do create a second season, you have to pay extra or need a second subscription to access it.

    I may have to give up tv altogether, I find the rapacious practice of double billing and abandoning a story line too distressing. They never do this with books, do they? (crickets chirp)

    Thanks for the repost. It’s nice to catch things I otherwise would have missed.


    • It can be pretty funny to watch the weird way everyone dressed without regard for what’s supposed to be going on. As for TV, I NEVER pay for a second year if I didn’t pay for the first. Usually, if you wait a couple of weeks, it’s becomes free (again). Prime is the worst about this.


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