Don Draper is not the best dressed man on TV.
There, I said it and I meant it. Now, the FCC might kick down my door at any second for speaking ill of the holy Don Draper, but I just can’t hold my tongue any longer. Mad Men is not the most stylish show on TV, The Knick is.
Now before you start crying out that this statement is sacrilege, allow me to explain. After seven seasons the slim-suited, slicked-haired, tie-barred “Mad Men Look” is just plain boring. When Mad Men premiered in 2007 (2007!), it was nothing short of a sensation. Don Draper’s sharp flannel suits, pressed white shirts and narrow ties were undeniably cool. The style of the show was clean, modern, and pretty much still worked just as well in ‘07 as it did in ‘67. Suddenly, everywhere you looked, whether it was a glossy magazine editorial or your standard suburban office building, you could find a Don Draper lookalike. With the detached gaze to boot.
But after seven years, Mad Men style has run its course. The narrow gray flannel suit can only go so far, and quite frankly if I see one more tie bar I’ll be reaching for a Windsor knotted noose. Thankfully, this August Steven Soderbergh introduced The Knick, which is not only the best new show on TV, it is the best dressed show period. The Knick follows the intrepid (oh, and drug addicted) Dr. John Thackery, played by Clive Owen and the rest of New York City’s Knickerbocker Hospital at the turn of the twentieth century. It’s a bloody, brooding, and at times brutal look at the volatility of not just medicine in the coming of age era of the early 1900’s, but of life in general. Seriously, it’s an incredible show, just watch it. You’ll soon notice that while these increasingly unpredictable characters are perform all sorts of precarious procedures, they’re doing so in some remarkable costumes that were designed by Ellen Mirojnick and produced by none other than Martin Greenfield.
Whereas Draper’s stock grey suit had become staid, The Knick’s costumes are as fascinating as the characters that wear them. With each episode, thanks in no small part to Soderbergh’s impeccable camerawork, we’re given a new perspective on men’s style of the 1900’s. Watching The Knick is like playing a game of “spot the difference.” From a distance, these men don’t dress that differently from, but as the camera moves in, you’re able to see details that reveal quite a lot about the slow, yet steady, evolution that men’s style has taken over time. It’s this narrower focus that separates The Knick from a large scale show like Boardwalk Empire which tends to provide a more surface level look at the style of that era. With The Knick though, the cinematography clearly captures the detachable collars, button stances, scooped waistcoats, bowler hats, Thackery’s beloved white boots and other nuances that become like a window into the 1900’s. It’s both entertaining, and educational, (a word that was once only used negatively when talking about TV) and despite their antiquated outfits, these men could go toe to toe with Draper any day. Now that we have The Knick, we finally have a reason to turn off the Mad Men chatter, and tune into the new most stylish show on TV.