Costume designer Caroline Duncan on Servant, working with M. Night Shyamalan, and more

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You always have to be conscious of your audience and considerate of your audience, but you’re not working to satisfy your audience, you’re working to satisfy and fulfill the creation of real characters. Ultimately in doing your job, you help your audience to feel the characters are grounded and real, identifiable. The opposite of that is I’ve never worked with an actor who I think had so identifiable a role before that I was trying to push away from, which was your original question about Rupert. Kind of an amazing challenge! It was just fun to think about that element when designing his costumes too.

New interview! I spoke to Caroline Duncan, costume designer (it amuses me that her initials match her job description, although we didn’t talk about that at the time) on Apple TV+’s Servant, as well as Showtime’s The Affair, and also Netflix’s When They See Us. 

Particularly interesting – or I thought so anyway – was talking about how she used costuming to reflect similar plot points, the death of a child, across two very different programmes, and discussing how she approached the costumes for Rupert Grint, given that he, as an actor, carries with him certain associations other actors don’t.

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American Horror Story: Cult is a strange, cynical piece with no clear direction

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There’s a struggle, almost immediately, for the series to decide what it wants to be about. Opening as it does with dual perspectives on the election is a clever way to quickly establish the characters, but it also makes apparent one of the series’ primary flaws. Each character, in effect, is written as a parody of how the ‘other side’ views them; Sarah Paulson plays Ally Mayfair-Richards, the embodiment of the stereotypical liberal elite, while Evan Peters plays Kai Anderson, an exaggerated caricature of a basement dwelling 4chan user. In a way, there’s something almost cartoonish about it all – much of the episode wouldn’t have felt out of place in a Saturday Night Live skit. Indeed, Paulson’s character feels almost directly lifted from this specific sketch; Peters’ is played in such an aggressively exaggerated fashion it’s difficult to take him entirely seriously either.

From the first episode of AHS: Cult, it was difficult to tell what the show wanted to achieve. Continuing to watch the show, it was… also, to be honest, difficult to tell where the show was going. Bits of it worked, and it often felt like it was gesturing at some genuinely quite interesting ideas – but for the most part, there was a sense that the show had been written too quickly after the election to offer any meaningful or definitive commentary on it.

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Why I don’t watch Game of Thrones and I never will

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Game Of Thrones is one of the most popular television series around – a genuine, proper, global phenomenon. When people describe the golden age of television, Game Of Thrones is one of the hallowed offerings placed alongside the likes of Breaking Bad, Mad Men or The Wire. People build their lives around this programme in a way they do with few others – it doesn’t just command a loyal cult following, but a real populist significance too.

I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, though. I never will.

So, a couple of things are going on here.

The above article is not, admittedly, especially good. The main part of my objection to Game of Thrones was, basically, that as I understood it the show had a lot of issues to do with its female characters, chiefly in terms of an overreliance on rape as a plot device. For a couple of reasons, I ended up a little unwilling to actually address that directly, largely talking around the point for five hundred words and leaving it at that. As a result, it’s a bit weak, but also bungles the point entirely – I end up putting “there’s nearly 60 hours of it” on par with “it has massive ethical failings that I would find offensive to watch”, which is, you know, not true, no matter how terrible my attention span is.

The other thing is that, actually, about six months after writing this – probably not even that – I did actually end up watching all of Game of Thrones across the span of two or three weeks. Oops.

I will, I imagine, end up writing about it at some point (I actually took notes while watching it, with the intention of putting together a “117 notes, thoughts and observations I had while watching every episode of Game of Thrones for the first time” type piece, until I realised that brevity is my enemy and that would end up somewhere far in excess of ten thousand words, the sort of length reserved for emails to Alexis rather than Yahoo blog posts I’m paid a pittance for) so I’ll hold off on giving you my full thoughts on the show now. Suffice to say, while it does actually have some good things going for it, pretty much every critique I’d heard vis a vis gender and race and so on was pretty much on the money.

So, even though I’m now more inclined to appreciate the things it does well, I’ve now got a much fuller understanding of the things it does poorly. (Things which, frankly, it is not criticised for even nearly enough.)

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5 Harry Potter TV Shows We’d Love to See

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Today marks the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter – a novel that had humble beginnings in a Glasgow café, and became a cultural touchstone for a generation. It’s been adapted to film, spawned a spinoff series in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and seen an acclaimed theatrical follow-up.

And yet, rather strangely, one medium the franchise has never entered is television. As Harry Potter enters its second decade, it’s surely only a matter of time before the Wizarding World appears on the small screen…

It’s the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter today! I wrote this short piece by way of celebration.

My thoughts on Harry Potter – or, more accurately, my thoughts on JK Rowling – have become decidedly more complex since June 2017, though I imagine that’s true of a lot of people. I’ve also just noticed a mistake in the above – Harry Potter would be entering it’s third decade, wouldn’t it? Not second.

Anyway, enjoy – I suppose – this relatively uncomplicated set of thoughts on what some neat Harry Potter TV shows might be. We’re guaranteed to get one within the next ten years or so anyway – I suspect Harry Potter is going to become increasingly like the Disney Star Wars – so, you know, let’s see if I’m right.

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American Gods: Here are the differences between the TV show and Neil Gaiman’s book

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Bryan Fuller’s lavish adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantastic book, American Gods, has just landed. And, as expected, it’s absolutely fantastic. The show has quickly become a critical darling, and audiences are loving it.

As with every novel adaptation, though, a question arises: Just how accurate is it? From Harry Potter to the Lord of the Rings, and Percy Jackson to the Game of Thrones, every large-scale fantasy adaptation has to take some liberties with its source material.

Is this adaptation going to leave fans frothing with rage or praying at the show’s altar?

I’d not yet watched the show when I wrote this – it was mainly done from stuff that Fuller and Green and Gaiman had spoken about in interviews and publicity stuff.

Since writing this, I have watched the show, and it was one of my favourites of 2017. I never did write about it, though, mainly because… I guess I felt like the show was so good, anything I wrote about it wouldn’t quite serve it properly, if that makes sense? In any case, though, I was really disappointed when Fuller and Green left the project – while I’m hopeful for Jesse Alexander’s version, I’m not expecting much. I figure I’ll probably rewatch and write about the first season in preparation for its return, whenever that may be.

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The impact of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and why it still matters

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It’s not exactly an original take on the matter to say that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was highly influential, if not pivotal, in terms of how television has developed over the past twenty years.

That does not, however, make it any less true.

Certainly, Buffy was groundbreaking in many key respects – many of the most popular television shows today owe a huge debt to Buffy, and may not have existed without it. In some regards, it’s a little bit like Isaac Asimov’s story about the woman who read Hamlet for the first time and said “I don’t see why people admire that play so. It is nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together”.

And yet despite how familiar certain aspects of the show have now become, Buffy still stands above them – after all, part of the reason why it was so influential was because of just how good it is.

For the 20th anniversary of Buffy on Friday, I wrote this short piece, celebrating the show and arguing why it still matters today.

This piece shall also be dedicated to my real life pal Robbie, who very much likes Buffy. I got him a book for his birthday once that compared Buffy to Hamlet, which I thought was quite clever, since we had exams on Hamlet coming up soon. I’m told he didn’t write his essay about all the ways Hamlet is like Buffy, but I don’t entirely trust his account of it all.

(Oh, huh, I just noticed that I referenced Hamlet in the above anyway. I bet that was for his benefit. Wow, I’m such a good friend. Presents and articles. What a blessing to have me in your life.)

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American Gods – First Trailer Released!

American Gods Logo News Trailer

The series is intended to last for several years; the first season, comprising of ten episodes, will cover the first third of the book, ending at the House on the Rock, with the second season being predominantly set at Lakeside. Neil Gaiman, who has taken an executive producer role on the series, stated that  “one of the first things that we’re doing is going we don’t have to make a TV series that only exists from Shadow’s point of view”; the story is going to be expanded, further developing each of the characters and their plotlines. Similarly, Bryan Fuller has said that “it feels like the book would be anywhere from three to four seasons”, noting that Starz has said they “want [American Gods] to last a while”. It seems that we have quite a lot to look forward to!

Also intriguing is Fuller’s comment that American Gods will focus on the “political climate and the sociological climate” of America, with commentary on the perspective of black people and of woman, as well as an episode invoking the gun control debate; the hope, Fuller says, is to use “those sort of hot-topic issues as a platform to have a conversation about faith and our role in the universe”.

I’ve written a little news roundup and reaction piece to the new trailer for American Gods, which was released at SDCC last night; I’ve also included some details which were released by Neil Gaiman and Bryan Fuller in some recent interviews.

Have to say, I’m very excited about this!

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