Costumes for ACM Kid

redsfOk, Look at this picture. What stands out? The rose, right? It is pretty obvious that is the artist’s point, to highlight the rose.  What does that have to do with the costume choices for ACM Kid? I think the costumes are like this painting. Well, I had never noticed this before when watching this episode, but then I had never really paid attention. I wonder if the costume people did this on purpose? But then you all know how my SMK mind works Smile. Lets see if I can get you to see it too?

At first look, what is with all the brown? It is like it is a uniform. Lee is in brown, the driver (is that Go?) is in brown, the bean dip is brown.agents in brown The KGB bad guys are in brown, Alexi’s father is wearing brownbad guys in brown and even the dead contact, Clemens, is in brown.dead guy in brown

Amanda is in white, Amana in whiteI think this is the first time we see her in white.

How did Lee know her number in order to be able to call her from a telephone booth?brown blazer and pants Maybe he has her number written down (in one of his black books?). I am sure her number is on file at the Agency, but does he carry it with him? He didn’t know he was going to need ( or want) to call her this time, he didn’t know there was a young boy  hiding in that closet that he would need her help with. Maybe he has memorized her number already. Hmm that would be an interesting thing to ponder.

Francine is looking very much like a school teacher from the early 1900’s.Francine school marm Even her line to Alexi, “okay now, lets start from the beginning again,” sounds like a teacher. I expected her to lead him through his times tables or something.

And Billy, too, is wearing brown.Brown billy and lollipop The only color that sticks out to me so far is that lollipop. And while Billy and Francine are totally inept at getting anything from Alexi, Lee is acting like he is in total cahoots with “the young Dillinger.”in kahootsstill in kahoots

Even Lee’s bathrobe is brown! But Amanda is still in white and soft pink. Amana in white again According to my notes on the psychology of colors white is color at its most complete and pure, the color of perfection. The color meaning of white is purity, innocence, wholeness and completion. Now that, I think, is interesting; wholeness and completion. And pink? Unconditional love and nurturing, hmm? I don’t think we have seen Amanda so thrilled as she is here when she arrives at Lee’s apartment.coffee She is in her element, as she says, she “loves kids.”I like kids I wonder if that isn’t the gist of all this brown. If brown points to security and protection, maybe the significance is that these agents all around Alexi (and Lee) are there to protect, but not nurture, not to love him (and Lee, too). Francine looks like the old fashioned school teacher, she has no clue, and all Billy can think of is the outrageous candy. But Amanda? Amanda knows and she is equipped to meet Alexi’s needs (and maybe Lee’s too?). I love this conversation in the kitchen (another kitchen conversation?) It is so revealing.who needs mothering Lee kind of makes himself known there, by stating what he thinks a kid needs, ”attention, someone to talk to.” I do think he is speaking for himself here. Somehow he has become vulnerable again in front of Amanda, does she know it? how am I doin

In the next scene Lee has exchanged his brown three piece suit for a brown western style blazer, lariat and cowboy boots.Ricky Joe Jackson

And here is something that we don’t see often, Amanda is in RED!Amanda in red That is the first strong color in this episode (other than the lollipop). Red indicates a preparedness to take action or the feeling of passion.

This scene with Alexi and Amanda is interesting. She is using children’s stories to try to communicate with Alexi and he calls her on it, so she gets straight with him, she takes action and she speaks passionately to him about her convictions about how things are done in her home under her care.OK Look!” As long as you’re in my house I am going to treat you like a friend and I expect the same from you.” Can you hear her saying that to Lee, “you are in my life and as long as you are in my life I am going to treat you like a friend and I expect the same from you.” Loud and clear! And, you know, when Alexi tells her that she is tougher than the fed with the moldy cheese, I think Amanda basks in that affirmation.Amanda tough guy

Next we have Alexi with the bad guys, and , look!still in brown More brown!

Amanda is sorting laundry in her pink Georgetown sweatshirt ( and headband, I don’t know what to make of these, it was the 80’s)  I don’t think she is too enthused with Dean even now…hmm about Dean

But she changes clothes to talk to Lee in the Lug Wrench Bar. She changes into…a green one too another sweater vest! Maybe she does knit. This looks like the exact same pattern as the other two, just a different type of yarn. Well, if that is the case she is a multi talented woman, as a sewer myself, I respect that. This one is green which can represent balance and growth as well as self-reliance as a positive or possessiveness as a negative.

Lee (and the baddy) even the next day are still in brown.more brown

And now the scene in Lee’s apartment with the panda, swamp humanoids and the Tibetan Ram’s Horn. Lee is in… you guessed it, brownoh yeah and Amanda has changed again, into white, relaxed and bringing wholeness and completion.you could win mine Hmm. This scene with Lee coming home, asking how the day was, talking about the kid… seems very much like a picture of a complete family.welcome home Or, as she describes how she is warming to Alexi, is Lee hearing how she is warming to a person with a background like his? Could this be bringing wholeness and completion. Or too much order and cleanliness. Lee seems rather double minded here, I think. Maybe he thinks Amanda is taking the sabotage book too seriously.sabotage

And more brown the next day at the Lug Wrench,more brown at the lug wrench and at the agency colorlessness again.more colorlessness

But, Amanda has on a RED sweatshirt.more off the shoulder And this one has a bit of attitude. I like it on her. We don’t see her often in a neckline like this, it even slips off of one shoulder a bit.in action I think she is feeling a bit emboldened by her new work and the people she is being exposed to. She is bright and animated.sharp and bright

In the tag, however Amanda is looking colorless like everyone else in this episode and a bit blurry.soft and blurry And it occurred to me that her sweater looked a bit like a panda bear to me.amanda the panda

So why is Amanda highlighted in color in this episode? I wonder first of all if Amanda isn’t impassioned by her involvement with the agency,and so the red. It has given her some meaning, some purpose, some excitement. Isn’t that kind of what Lee says to her in the kitchen? “Excitement, danger, intrigue.” It also highlights her special skill set as a mother, and it is useful to the agency people. But also, it is useful to Lee as an agent, as a person and as a man. I think at some level he recognizes this, and to me that is what motivated the gift of the panda. In the first episode Amanda goes into the world of the agency, in the second Lee takes a foray into suburbia, Amanda’s world. In this episode Lee has need of Amanda’s mothering and Amanda enters Lee’s personal world and I think Amanda’s special qualification for this job is highlighted by her being the only one in color. A rose among the colorless brown.

22 responses to “Costumes for ACM Kid

  1. Fantastic post, Morley! Gotta run because I’m about to get kicked off the library computer, but I really like your commentary about the brown uniform of the agency, and the symbolism about Amanda wearing red. I do have to admit I didn’t focus well on what you wrote about the scene with Lee getting bandaged up.

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  2. Okay I’m back! Just saw your reply Morley – yeah I could be wrong.. but I thought there were moments where the agents were much less snappy..then.. there comes a time where Lee is always snappy! but.. It’s just my overall impression – and could be completely mistaken! 🙂

    Anyway, on with Ricky Joe! Anyone wish they had seen Ricky Joe again?! I would have loved to see a BJo! 😉

    wow.. Amanda looks good in Red! It will be interesting to see what happens to her wardrobe as we progress! Looking forward to what you’ll come up with Morley!

    As much as Alexi bugs me.. he has traits similar to Lee – on the outside he’s a tough guy – but on the inside – He’s a marshmallow!!! 🙂 LOL Morley. yes I can imagine Amanda saying that to Lee!!! Seems our minds were on the same track there!!!

    That georgetown sweater (and the blue one) seem to be her uniform for getting housework done! No mention of the headband Morley???!!!

    Yep Dean?? meh!!

    ‘Maybe she does knit’ – Doesn’t Francine make a joke about Amanda and knitting in the first time? to Lee: I hear that she Knits! or something! 😉

    I like Amanda in green! I don’t remember seeing her in green much up to LOTParty..

    whooo love that screen cap of Lee watching Amanda with the Panda!!!

    Yeah what Amanda says of coming to like Alexi is parallel to how she views Lee!! I don’t know that I noticed that when I went through this episode! I feel like when I first walked through these early episodes I was still kind of finding my feet (so to speak! nice pun huh?!) – and I don’t think I spent as much time and thought on the episodes as I do now. It’s interesting to look back! I feel like I’d love to go back and give these earlier episodes more indepth thought – don’t worry though I’ll keep on going! but Morley your post has spurred some new ideas and insights into this episode! thanks!!! When we are done – I think I’d love to go back to season one and at least redo the first half – whoooo I could even do it in my revised episode order!!! Now that could be fun too!!

    Oopsie sorry Morley I’m getting distracted and off track.. back to your post!

    ‘Emboldened’ is a fabulous word to describe Amanda here!! 🙂

    Okay- I’m sorry..this may be controversial .. but.. I really must Protest!!! Morley!!!! How can you have a photo of Lee with his shirt open (and the bandaged ribs) and have the line ‘at the agency colorlessness again’?????!!!!! 😀 I am seeing a whole stack of colours right now!!!! haaa haaa!! 😛 [fireworks!]

    what year was flashdance?? Morley are you au fait on the fashion trends of the 80s?? Amanda looks smokin in that red off the shoulder sweatshirt with no bra!! I’m thinking it’s a bit of a flashdance look maybe?!!!! she looks very carefree and feisty!

    A fabulous contrast to how she looks while on her date with Dean!!! Great Catch Morley – I think you are on the money!!! it screams to us that Amanda is being all buttoned down and conservative with Dean – fulfilling the role of submissive helpmate to her (sort of) man… the old fashioned hair do.. and Amanda massaging Dean after his hard day as a weatherman?? (when she spent the night before kidnapped??!!! ) really does underline how Amanda is pretending here.. with Dean, but also with herself.. The woman with her hair out and the red sweatshirt?? that’s the woman that Amanda has been wanting to be – but she isn’t yet ready to own it I guess.. but hey, it’s a start!!! and then.. along pops a Panda on her front porch to remind her – of all her adventures with Ricky Joe 😉

    That furry sweater? I think she wears it again.. but it is a great contrast with the red!

    Yep I like your conclusion Morley – about Amanda’s involvement with her agency work.. Lee needed Amanda’s mothering skills? Love it!!

    Yes Valerie.. Life with dean is dull!!! very true!!! 🙂 I liked your comments very much!

    Hi Raffie – I know you have a great memory for the context of the 80s! I’m looking foward to hearing your take on this!
    What you say makes sense Raffie – I love that about you!!! I really enjoy your insights into the times. and that patriotism when the cold war was at it’s height I guess? The reporters wear red?

    Here here! smk is above the average show of the times! haa great use of the Mongoose comment!!

    Byeee all!! Thanks Again Morley this has been lots of fun!

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    • Flashdance was 1983, so definitely a possibility for SMK style ideas, but I think of the wide-necked sweatshirt off the shoulder style more as Footloose (1984)… 🙂

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  3. Hello!!! forgive my tardiness Morley! I always want to approach your posts with plenty of time to ponder! 🙂 You always give me lots to think about 🙂

    So here I am!!! sitting here with my morning coffee.. typing away as you taking me on this journey through the costumes of ACM Kid! Here goes..

    wow.. I was only thinking the other day about the colours Amanda is dressed in. Season 4 has her in much brighter colours.. and her in ACM Kid they’ve again got her in bright colours..

    I find it confusing! I have always approached it as being a case of confusion over how to present Amanda’s character in these early episodes.. (in other areas also) but if you can make some sense of it I’d love it! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of her later wardrobe too! Sorry I’m rambling on.. I’m yet to wake up completely! Pics of Lee ought to do it 😉

    If you look at the first 3 or 4 episodes, do you think agents are portrayed as less flashy?? Man.. I’ve got to have a look at my revised episode order! (no I don’t remember it!)
    I was thinking they changed the way agents dressed so that they could give russians ‘bad suits’ you know?! more contrast..

    Looooots of Brown! yep!! and – Brown bean dip! 😉

    Okay, Sorry! I can’t see Amanda on the phone in white as deliberate, as that shot was taken from Service Above and Beyond – and added like they’d made a mistake and needed a shot of her talking on the phone!

    Whoooo I like it!!! Lee knew Amanda’s number!!! heck, I was assuming he had his smart phone and her number was saved in there – with ever one else in DC – because Lee knows everyone but then.. he is on a public phone haaaaa – okay in all seriousness though – what he could have done was call the agency first, and ask for Amanda’s number – and then call Amanda! 😉

    Yeah that look on Francine is ridiculous!!! Very victorian and unlike Francine – but plays beautifully for this one scene.. That hair looks like a left over from Martha’s part time gig playing Jane Austen theatre or something! Guess the clothes are Victorian and the hair is Edwardian!

    Billy is very Mr Casual!!! I think they were going for a Mr Rogers vibe with Billy to start of with – so we as the audience would love him straight off.. It worked! 🙂

    Man that kid bugs me..

    Amanda wears that Cardigan – ALOT!!!! I think Amanda looks lovely in pink and white.. and it does support the aura of nurturing/ unshowiness an american housewife is suppose to have (according to the stereotype they are going with early in the show)

    I Lurve that three piece suit on Lee.. man I wish we’d seen it again…. Lee looks like he could protect anyone in that outfit 🙂 Brown could also be earthy? natural?? maybe?? I think it depends on the tone of brown..
    Good point Morley – another kitchen conversation!!! I think that’s deliberate.. I imagine Lee rarely has conversations with any women -in the kitchen! Would it have been a hoot if Lee had blue curtains??? [ I mean he could have gotten his decorator to do it while he was off skiing!!]

    Oh dear! I’ve gotta run!!! but I’ll be back to continue reading and responding as soon as I can.. whooo I’m up to Ricky Joe!! soooo hard to stop!!!!!

    Back soon!
    Iwsod

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    • Youa asked about the agents being less flashy, I don’t know. But I do know that Lee is looking pretty sharp when he is at the Agency. In most of the first episodes he is in a double breasted suit at the office. He dresses a bit more casually outside of the office. I haven’t noticed any one else (I don’t really think we are supposed too;))

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    • And that cardigan, its one of those things that she has a few of in different colors. The pink one is the one that gets shot in Burn Out….oops we aren’t there yet….tee hee.

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  4. Morley – I truly enjoy reading your posts. I never know what you’re going to say, but I find that I you always make me think about or notice something about this show that I’ve never thought/noticed before.

    I LOVE the idea that Lee already has Amanda’s number memorized…even though he probably just called the agency and had them connect him. 😉

    Reading your analysis of the meaning of the colors of the costumes, it sure makes it seem like the wardrobe people were decidedly conscious in their color choices. If they didn’t, it is a rather large coincidence. An SMK-sized coincidence.

    We don’t see Amanda show that she realizes Lee has made himself vulnerable in front of her, but she does hear what he says based on her response. I think she just tucks it away in her Scarecrow file.

    I’ve never really liked Amanda’s fuzzy white sweater in the tag of this ep. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t seem to fit her personality. She is not a fuzzy person. Maybe that’s why she’s wearing it with Dean; her relationship with him is starting to get a little fuzzy in her mind. And if the wardrode folks really do take color into consideration, there’s just no way they’d have her in red with Dean.

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    • I have a friend who teaches costume design at Yale School of Drama. She has been to four years of college and then to grad school for costuming and design. I actually do think that the costume people put some thought into it. That’s a lot of school to just grab any old suit. It wasn’t a period piece (at the time) so there must have been a bit of reasoning for the clothes that they picked for each character in each episode, even if it was “you would look good/bad in this,” or “you haven’t worn this one in a while.” So when I watch the episodes for these posts I ask myself, “they could have chose anything for that character to wear, why did they put him/her in that? Why?” (I know I may be thinking about it more than the actual costumer, but that’s the fun part for me)
      She had better not wear red with Dean, do we even see him again?

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      • I had no idea you could go to college for something like that. It makes sense that you can, I just never thought about it. I don’t think we ever see Dean again – just his mother in the amnesia episode.

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  5. I like contemplating the symbolism and juxtaposing of red against brown here better than pondering the political fashions of the time, but I will take a moment here to show that I have a “stolidly literal head on my shoulders.” (Yes, there IS an SMK quote for everything.) Back in the 80’s, President Reagan rocked the fashion world by wearing a BROWN suit. It was unheard of. It was discussed backwards and forwards. Its implications were analyzed and critiqued (much like this ACM post :-). The Presidential act was exciting and outrageous and incredibly unique. So of course *everyone* had to emulate it. For a while, brown suits were power suits, a sign of your willingness to break barriers and be daring and individualistic. (Yes, the irony has me nearly giggling here, but then I am not a slave to fashion.) Politicians wore them, office workers wore them, models wore them, and TV show characters wore them.

    As a related aside, I just watched Remembrance OTP a couple days ago, and that always reminds me of the Reagan regime fashion as well. The lady reporter is wearing a showy red hat. I am quite sure this is no coincidence. Reagan favored the color red. Therefore, at press conferences, the guys were all sporting red handkerchiefs and ties, while the ladies wore red dresses and red accessories. Here’s a link to what I mean:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1665&dat=19850322&id=nHsbAAAAIBAJ&sjid=VE4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=3431,3517992

    Oh, and that blond baddie so does look like a dummy. Great call on that one, KC!

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    • I didn’t know that Raffie, thanks for sharing and even the article, you have done your research.
      What I kept noticing was that everybody was in brown the whole time during this episode. I could see a few or even most of the characters, but all of them except Amanda? That was interesting to me.
      But I have a question, if brown was because of Reagan and red was his favorite color, why would everybody be wearing brown and have Amanda the only one in red? Maybe she wanted to be noticed, called on. Maybe I am thinking too much? 😉

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      • Hmm, believe it or not, I hadn’t made the connection between Amanda being in red here in ACM Kid, and my RemembranceOTP spiel about reporters wearing red. My brain connect stopped at the point of highlighting the trends and memories of the 80’s, and I know politicians in brown and reporters in red were definitely 80’s things. And I do enjoy how SMK reflects these things. How many times do we say, “why in the world do they….?” and the answer is “because in the 80’s….” !?! And SMK being the patriotic show that it was (and being patriotic was highly fashionable in the 80’s!), there are definitely nods to the political trends of the time nestled in the episodes.

        But I am not trying to create my own little parallel universe in this thread 🙂 I agree with the sentiments here. Just like we frequently marvel at the attention to detail and the SMK fun that the writers put into the scripts, I think that the costume designers put forth similar creative energies. These are elements that raise SMK above the average show and make it great material for discussion 30 years later! Amanda’s red against the brown? Well, it certainly fits with the recurring theme in S1 where her unique style plays against the agency’s rather unimaginative bureaucracy. (LOL, reminds me of the Mongoose interrogation: “she has a style all her own!”)

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    • LOL–thanks, Raffie! 🙂 I think that Iwsod’s screen cap of him in her post–where his mouth is wide open–catches it really well…

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  6. “A rose among the colorless brown.” I like that!

    Yes–Amanda does stand out… even in her first screen cap (the white hoodie), she has on the red Amandaband. I really like that red sweater on her, too, and we do see her in those necklines sometimes, but they’re usually straight rather than over one shoulder. In the tag, I think it’s like you guys have said–she’s slipping back into her suburban mum persona… girlfriend to the boring weatherman…

    Any take on Alexi wearing blue? According to one site, blue “is the color of trust and peace. It can suggest loyalty and integrity as well as conservatism and frigidity”. ???

    BTW that blond baddie always reminds me of a ventriloquist’s dummy… :p

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    • KC, I can see the dummy resemblance…LOL.
      I have no idea about Alexi’s blue, maybe he is looking for someone to trust and have peace with. There is a definite lack of that in his young life.
      I agree, there is a real contrast in Amanda’s look between that last scene with Lee and the tag, isn’t there?

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      • Or maybe after all the thought that went into the color choices for the key adult players in the relationships here, they decided to just go the obvious route and put the boy in blue (vs. pink for girl)?

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  7. Maybe Amanda’s colorlessness and blurriness at the end relate to her relationship with Dean since that’s who she’s with at the end. We never see Dean’s face and he has a job that seems a bit drab and colorless. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of passion in that relationship. She even has her hair pulled back as Francine does earlier. Her hair is up until she gets the call from Lee and goes into action. It’s back up when she’s with Dean. It’s a rather severe style while previously her hair is loose and flowing and rather carefree. Maybe indicating more change in her attitude and behavior in working with the Agency.

    Her red in earlier scenes may indicate the rising passion she is developing or starting to feel for her work with the Agency and her budding (like a rose) relationship with Lee.

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