Comfy shoes

Sunday April 05, 2009 @ 05:49 PM (UTC)

I think costuming is meaningful. Maybe that sounds odd, but it’s an important part of the look of a show, the messaging of a theatre production, et cetera.

But I have this problem, a disconnect between the way I think and the way Hollywood people do. It’s encapsulated well by a recent episode of Dollhouse, where the same professional thief character (being played by two different actresses) repeats that she she has rules to “never second-guess a client, and wear comfy shoes”. They say this twice, in two pairs of identical boots, with stilettos around six inches tall.

This dredged up one of my televisual pet peeves. Women in standing, walking and running professions in ridiculously high heels. Dr. Cameron, the female doctor on House, for example, working long hours and pursuing a suicidal patient. ’Cuz, you know, I always notice the wicked heels on hospital staff.

Now, I own heels. I can even walk in them. They can be pretty and fun. A chunky heel can even offer some comfort and ease of use. But we’re not talking about chunky heels, or cowboy boots. We’re talking about spikes at four inches plus, which may perhaps be an everyday shoe for Hollywood, but probably not for a professional thief, or a junior doctor, or…a homicide detective.

Now, admittedly all I know about how female homicide detectives dress I learned from Landsman’s dress code lectures on The Wire. On that show it involved pantsuits, and, at least in Greggs’s case, a sturdy chunk heel. Other shows (and shoes) vary: since Life is set in LA, it’s a little less dressy: Reese wears a button-up shirt under a jacket, usually, and again, a sensible heel like a cowboy or chunky boot (Sarah Shahi’s a lot shorter than her co-star, so some heel is usually in evidence.) But Castle, in the two episodes I’ve watched, has made me crazy. They have a very tall, model-tall in fact, actress playing an NYPD homicide detective. And while my suspension of disbelief is bruised by noting her four different up-to-the-minute coats in one episode (two leather) and trailing pashmina scarfs to match, it’s positively shattered when she brushes her impractical bangs out of her eyes in order to yell “NYPD” and kick down a door when we clearly saw her deadly wobble-pumps in the adjacent scene. Not to mention when she kicks a knife away from a suspect with a retro round-toe number better suited to ballroom than brawl.

Seriously, Hollywood, maybe your costumers like showroom shoes, maybe your directors just want the character to look ‘pretty’ and don’t care what that means, maybe the writer who knows the character’s personality gets no input into these choices at all, maybe you all live in a Hollywood bubble where women are all size zero and wear lipstick to bed. But out here in watcherland, we would like to be able to believe in our heroines as well as our heroes. Which means we need to believe a badass cop can chase down a perp or kick down a door. And having walked a block in her shoes, I feel certain she can’t.


I have a similar problem with Hollywood people and their thoughts on hair — you mention the homicide detective brushing her impractical bangs. This is one of the major problems I have with medicine-themed shows — the female doctors always seem to have perfect, impractical tresses that magically never get covered in blood or interfere with performing intricate, complex medical procedures.

Actually, now that I think about it, female cops (like you mentioned) also have impossibly perfect hair. And makeup. First thing in the morning. ugh.

Yes, I’ve thought about the hair as well. Not only is Detective Beckett (on Castle) sporting an impractical cut, but it’s just about the most expensive length in the world — if it grows out a quarter inch it will look horrible and be completely untenable, but it’s too long and complex to be easy to self-maintain. She must be going to the salon every week or so.

I usually find it easier to brush off my hair concerns because in general, TV characters are played by extremely beautiful people and I can understand why they want to play that up. Extremely beautiful hair seems part and parcel. As long as the hair isn’t actively hampering their theoretical role in the fictional world, I try to shrug it off.

And of course, many action heroines have long, loose hair so they can throw it around and hide their face for easier stuntwoman substitution (they did that on Buffy all the time.)

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