51 thoughts on “SNARK WEEK: Costumes in History Documentaries Are the Worst

  1. At last! The post I’ve been waiting for! And it hits just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a great effort. Mysteries at the Museum alone could generate a year’s worth of snark.

  2. I always imagine that there is one costume designer out there who dresses all of these documentaries. I think that designer’s give-a-shit is broken.

  3. What really gets me is that commercials with period setting often do a better job of authenticity than full-length programming. I still fondly remember the turn-of-the-20th-century setups in the old Virginia Slims ads.

  4. So many things to be annoyed with here, but the only thing that makes me irrationally angry are the visible hoop rings! It’s so easy to not do that. Just throw on an underskirt! Augh! The humanity!!1!

      1. Fortunately, I was between sips when I encountered the Emperor of China. Already softened up by King Henry’s biker boots, I laughed until the tears came. My coworkers thought I had lost my marbles.

  5. Why do they remind me of bad Renfaire Costumes? The reenactor Civil War looks to be the best. Possibly bc they used reenactors.

  6. The hood that parr wears in henry 8 is actually one of the weird sheer veil ones from wolf hall. I saw that when I watched it, and it bothered the crap outta me.

  7. It’s pouring outside and almost night at 4 pm, but you had me with poor Catherine flower nipples dress… And the Emperor VERY new clothes was the cherry on the snark cake!

      1. And they’re not in quite the right place to be like, ehem, anatomically correct flower nipples..! Not that it would be better if they were…but…

  8. Oh wow. I thought Salem screwed up the 17th century, but at least it was deliberately off. This witch show… like, the ridiculous costumes we made up in my family to do a little thanksgiving play about the pilgrims were more accurate. And our pilgrim bonnets were paper.

    Also, Saint and Sultan, really??? OMG wow. STAHP.

  9. I have to disagree with the shipping container snark. What I see in the photo is a half-timber building with closely-spaced vertical timbers on a masonry base. While not as iconic as half-timbering with diagonal bracing, this form of construction was particularly common in the 15th and 16th Cs in England. (I know. Buildings constructed out of shipping containers have become trendy in architecture circles and so are in the public eye.)

    1. I’ve been in the SCA for 20 and LARPed before that. I’ve seen better starter garb.

      1. IDK, I’ve only played in the SCA for 10 years & I’ve seen things just like those recently, plus in photos from the West Kingdom archives. Cradle of Kingdoms, yo ;)

  10. The French Hood section gets an extra-special guffaw. Have they not eyes?! Are there not portraits?! That last one, tho’–incomparable! I swear, high school productions try harder. Also, THE ZIPPER!

  11. Wow…reminds me of some the cheeseball “documentaries” I had the misfortune to work on. I think I’ll go watch something on aliens or ice road truckers…


    Oh, I forgot. Only Lucy Worsley did it right. =P

  13. The worst hair story I’ve ever heard about wasn’t even a dramatization. A marine archaeologist, during a lecture about a sunken ship in deep water off the coast of Turkey, told of how a cable network’s producer INSISTED that the female divers be filmed without their neoprene hoods, so that viewers could see their hair drifting in the current. You know how cold it would have been 100 feet down? So this bozo’s hair fetish made their work (the important part, right?) a lot more uncomfortable and possibly more dangerous as well.

  14. Sides hurt from laughing! I love that someone merged a Gibson girl ‘do with a 18th C. man’s wig to create that brown monstrosity I’m officially dubbing “Ye Olde Elvis” for Secrets of Spanish Florida. All that’s missing is the sideburns and a peanut butter, bacon & banana sandwich.

  15. I just watched the witch one the other day! I guess I really didn’t miss much by mostly not looking at the screen because I was sewing. And wowzers, there are a lot of much bigger gems here than that!

    And I can’t help thinking there’s some kind of comment in here about how people justify bad/inaccurate costuming in non-documentary movies/tv by saying they’re not documentaries – but the documentaries are even worse!

    1. Spot on — and why it kills me to watch documentaries with historical reenactments. It IS supposed to be accurate! It’s NOT just a movie, just fiction. No artistic license. Ugh.

  16. What is the last wig??? I don’t even understand what they were going for.

    Can I say I always loved the original Drunk History episodes for how much they half assed (quarter assed) the costumes and sets and then just used a really soft focus? Like, how many real documentaries try to hide those failings that way.

    1. That wig, I can’t even. It still hurts that I had to watch it (& the show was really good re: history, just the reenactment portions blew chunks). Now Drunk History, that’s my jam bec. they know they’re half-assing it with the costumes, it’s there in the title ;)

      1. Maybe the character has had a REALLY rough night?

        But seriously how did multiple people involved look at that and go “looks good to me!”

        She would have looked better with her natural hair up, or an Amazon prime wig or something.

  17. Forgive for a guy for butting in, but I have been looking forward to Snark Week for a while. Yea, keep it up!

  18. Theodora’s sad prom dress made sorry for that poor actress. And the zipper! That was a really good laugh on a dark and dreary day, thank you!

  19. Oh, thank God I’ve only seen ‘Witches’ amongst this lot- I would have cried more than laughed, otherwise.
    I’ve legit had a melt-down watching ‘Roman Empire’ on Netflix- not all the actors are bad (I like my boy, Ditch Davey, he made an ok younger Caesar), but ugh it’s like they weren’t even trying- & not in the fun ‘Spartacus’ way of ‘not trying’, either (both seasons starred minor ‘Spartacus’ actors in the main roles, or some passable lookalikes in supporting roles)

  20. Brilliant! Surprised Lucy Worsley’s documentaries haven’t yet featured with the costumes that have been fielded on those by the production team! Btw the Henry VIII documentary was 2016 not 2001. The extras with decent kit which you hardly see in it and in the Elizabeth one are reenactors I know :)

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