June 24, 2016
ABC’s reinvention of the classic John Hughes film Uncle Buck, includes a television time slot, a modern aesthetic, and an African American cast. A visual shorthand is essential in Costume Design for comedy in order to give the audience clues to the personality of the characters and to underscore the humor. Designer Marissa Borsetto has further developed the roles that Liz Bass created for the pilot. “Uncle Buck focuses on a family and the relationships within a family unit,” says Borsetto, “but we wanted to make it current.”
Borsetto uses fresh, appealing silhouettes. “In the original movie, Uncle Buck is sloppy,” she says, “but Mike Epps is a fun loving guy and is not in any way lazy.” The creators of the show view his character as an unreliable man-child who happens to be the babysitter for his brother’s children. Borsetto expresses this dichotomy by playing with juvenile style lines with an emphasis on street wear. “His colors have to pop because he has that type of personality and I want to show that on screen.” She frequently uses hats and vests to give Buck an extra flourish. Because Epps in in nearly every scene, it was impossible to schedule fittings with him. Borsetto solved this problem by purchasing a mannequin in exactly his size that obviates the need to see him in person.
“Alexis (Nia Long) has a lot of depth and creativeness as a character,” notes Borsetto. She avoided soccer mom cliché’s and dressed her in sophisticated shapes in muted tones. Her husband Will (James Lesure) is an architect and is also wears subtle colors with streamlined garments. For Tia, (Iman Benson) the older sister, Borsetto created a booksmart image with a quirky twist, which plays contrasts the sheer adorableness of Maizy (Aalyrah Caldwell) the younger sister. The family is rounded out by Myles (Sayeed Shahidi), a typical 10-year-old boy who mimics his peers while still trying to impress them with a great sneaker.
Borsetto says that the costumes are a highly collaborative effort with the producers. Although their dialogue has been well established she continues to create concept boards weekly in Keynote to ensure a cohesive vision and clear communication. “We would have these five day situation comedy episodes where maybe we would have a hundred costumes and it was very fast and furious but it was very creative,” she explains. The sense of enjoyment Borsetto brings to the costumes of Uncle Buck is contagious and the sense of fun leaps off the screen.
Uncle Buck airs Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.