Last night on the Emmy's red carpet, there wasn't a scrap of patterned fabric to be found (other than Lena Dunham's controversial--okay, insane--floral gown), and the shape du jour was the snooze-inducing mermaid silhouette. The ladies were playing it real safe in their tight, shiny, solid-colored ball gowns, and the most exciting sartorial moment was probably the heavenly reveal of Jon Hamm's beard-and-off-white-suit glory. Aside from a tiny handful of cool fashion (Claire Danes' nude, backless Armani Prive was phenomenal, Michelle Dockery's two-toned Prada was so fresh, and Elizabeth Moss rocked a slickly unexpected black-and-white number), most of the dresses looked like bad Oscar knock-offs. The whole thing left me yawning so incessantly that not even Breaking Bad could revive me afterwards.
Don't get me wrong; the women looked beautiful. But they're actresses, singers, celebrities--they're abnormally striking while shopping at the grocery store in sweatpants. Look at Miss Carrie Underwood up there in her purple princess gown and sideswept hair: She's a gorgeous woman (with a crack team of hair and makeup at her disposal...), but are we really so desperate for quality that we need to praise her for pulling off a purple princess gown?
Here are some other prime offenders--not because they looked bad, but because they looked so predictably good:
Sofia Vergara's stylist obviously Googled "how to look sexy," and carefully checked off every single result: plunging neckline, lace, bright red hue, and figure-accentuating mermaid silhouette.
Waist. Cleavage. Black. Done, done, and done, many times before--on Christina Hendricks.
Jennifer Aniston's 2009 Oscar dress called, demanding its sparkly neutral column vibe back.
We called out Ralph Lauren's Spring 2014 show for being boring, and Allison Williams' Ralph Lauren number is exactly that. Oh, but the color is so pretty? It's blue, people. It's deep blue. Next!
Of course Malin Akerman is making best-dressed lists. She's wearing a frothy white strapless mermaid gown. Everybody looks good in a frothy white strapless mermaid gown. The only person who couldn't pull this bridal-inspired shtick off is probably Napoleon, and that's only because he's too short for all that volume at the bottom.
See, we live in an era of unprecedentedly high-quality TV shows. Epic sagas like Breaking Bad, Homeland, and Downton Abbey give great literature a run for their money when it comes to creating tension, developing characters, and keeping the audience hooked. But TV acting is still seen as a lesser art form than movie acting. Maybe it's the commercials? Maybe it's the proximity to reality TV? Maybe it's the fact that everyone thinks longform is harder than shortform? Whatever the reason, it's ridiculous: Movies have gotten so bad these days that no one in their right mind genuinely thinks Megan Fox is more talented than Anna Gun or Christina Hendricks. Still, I think you can see the residual insecurity over TV's reputation as somehow less-than in the way these women dress. They don't take risks (...oh, Lena, if only you hadn't taken one either). They don't try to shock or stun or innovate. Last night, TV's leading ladies chose the predictable over the conceptual, and that's the wrong road to head down if television wants to continue its rise as the narrative art form of the future.