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Look of the Week: The sitcom stylings of WandaVision
Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
The specific location of the WandaVision abode is unclear, and details on the new Disney+ series are still light, but the 30-second Super Bowl tease did give enough outfits to ensure intrigue levels remain high. Talk about quick-fire costume changes with enough references to classic U.S. sitcoms (and one major nod to the comics) resulting in a TV history scavenger hunt. The home in question keeps shifting in every time period covered, which appears to run the famous real estate spectrum from The Brady Bunch to Roseanne.
Wanda didn't get to change her look too much during the Marvel movies, but in the genre-bending WandaVision teaser, her closet is getting quite the workout (at the time of this writing, the costume designer credit is not available).
Sitcoms are a staple part of the American TV lineup, which has led to a variety of landmark moments in pop culture. 1940s comedy Mary Kay and Johnny was the first series to depict pregnancy and a couple sharing a bed on television, whereas Murphy Brown's single motherhood status provoked an outcry from actual Vice President Dan Quayle.
This form of entertainment has also featured iconic style moments that reflect the trends of a nation while providing outfit inspiration. In this quick snapshot of what we can expect to see in WandaVision, the journey through the decades is a flip book of evolving sartorial suburban expectations via a gallery of familiar comedy locations.
"Now we get to morph them into a sitcom universe and get to be stylized, we get to play around as actors, [and] we get to play around with time period," Elizabeth Olsen excitedly explained in an interview with MTV at the D23 Expo last year. This vague description hasn't been expanded upon, but through shots of Wanda in various housewife attire, a wider picture is beginning to form about this possible alternate reality.
There is a brief flash of the Wanda of the real world, pictured wearing muted tones with a shocked expression on her face. Vision was still dead at the end of Avengers: Endgame, and seeing him again could be the cause of her look of wonder and confusion.
In this version of the world, in which it appears as if the Scarlet Witch has been sucked into a television set, her aesthetic matches that of many comedy matriarchs who have come before her. The initial black and white depiction, complete with a '50s housewife frock and a cardigan for Paul Bettany's Vision, is paying homage to the era in which the sitcom was born. Leave It to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, and even early episodes of Bewitched are providing the Norman Rockwell-esque context clues.
The black and white element in this somewhat surreal scenario is also conjuring up a vision (excuse the pun) of the excellent Pleasantville (1998), which uses a traditional '50s family sitcom setup to explore notions of morality and why nostalgia can be dangerous and hollow. A lack of color doesn't drain the serene happiness from Wanda's face, which shows the pair as newlyweds in this suburban utopia.
Real memories also pose a danger to whatever is taking place, as Wanda's red costume is an overt nod to the original Jack Kirby-drawn cape and unitard from the 1960s. Here it looks less like a superhero and more like a sexy Halloween costume. This particular holiday is a sitcom staple, which is why it isn't surprising to see Wanda indulging in the ritual of this date.
Pearls as favored by Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley) get switched out for warm '70s tones and maternity wear, and Wanda's perfectly curled locks are now straightened. It isn't the same flick or even color as Carol Brady (Florence Henderson), but the decor is very similar to that crowded family home.
Wanda's graphic print terracotta and turquoise robe barely conceal her baby bump, which plays into the domestic bliss setup. As we move through each period, another milestone is reached.
Taking this journey through the latter half of the 20th century gives a flash of a frazzled Wanda with a whole lot of untamed curl volume paired with a plaid shirt, suspenders, and an exasperated expression.
The fridge in the background and patterned wallpaper coupled with this look is full Roseanne, even if Wanda is a mix of the titular character along with her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf).
The '80s are not neglected, and the trailer gives us Wanda wearing pink pleated pants with a floral waistcoat for a Full House/Family Ties crossover. Other than the overt nod to the original Scarlet Witch costume, each ensemble appears to be getting further away from her superhero roots. The mind-bending Netflix limited series Maniac played with time and place via dreamscapes, which seems to be the vibe that WandaVision is serving up in this teaser.
While audiences are still relatively in the dark about the overall plot, whatever has brought Wanda into this alternate reality will also be serving up a big dollop of television and suburban housewife style history.