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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