Jenna Elfman in "Growing Up Fisher"

“Growing Up Fisher”

February 14, 2014

NBC’s “Growing Up Fisher” isn’t your usual scripted family comedy show. It’s also a tale of how a family adjusts to life challenges, notably divorce, and in the case of the male lead, blindness.

“Growing Up Fisher” is the TV version of the childhood of series creator, DJ Nash, whose father was blind. The show, which is set in the present day, looks at the Fisher family and their lives after Mel (played by J.K. Simmons) and his wife, Joyce (Jenna Elfman) decide to divorce. The couple has two children, a teenage daughter, Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley) and 11-year old son, Henry (Eli Baker).

Prior to the divorce, Eli helped his father hide his blindness. Then a guide dog named Elvis comes into the picture and things change.

“The costumes and the clothes are not really meant to be a strong focus of the series,” says the series’ Costume Designer, Mary Kate Killilea. “It’s about the dynamic between the characters and Mel Fisher’s life as he learns to live on his own.”

That said, when given the opportunity to “play with clothes,” Killilea is fortunate to have a cast that is willing to do just that.

In one episode, Joyce and her daughter are going through a trunk of old clothes of hers from the Eighties.

“From a large bow reminiscent of Madonna’s look from ‘The Virgin Tour,’ to neon leg warmers and a hot pink sweatshirt, which we turned inside out and cut the neckline so it fell off the shoulder ala ‘Flashdance,’ we had it all in there,” said Killilea. For Elfman’s character, a mom whose emotional maturity stopped somewhere in her teen years, fashion is a preoccupation. According to Killilea, “Jenna was really willing to play, and had a blast with the costumes, trying everything on,” she said.

Killilea found most of the pieces at Universal’s Costume Department, as well as at American Apparel, where tube socks, oversize T-shirts and other classic ‘80s items are in frequent rotation.

“I found it funny when we stumbled upon the neon leg warmers at American Apparel. It’s always interesting when you find period clothes, recreated as hip, modern and current,” says Killilea.

“Growing Up Fisher” airs on NBC on Sunday, February 23, following the Olympics, then moves to a regular Tuesday slot at 9:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Feb. 25.

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