Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

On 'Girls,' Going from a Loser to a Hunk

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

On 'Girls,' Going from a Loser to a Hunk

Article excerpt

One of the big surprises in season two of "Girls," the HBO show created by Lena Dunham that has its season finale tonight, has been the transformation of Charlie (Christopher Abbott) from lovesick loser to confident Web entrepreneur and possibly even sex symbol -- an evolution that the show's costume designer has helped signal with subtle changes in his wardrobe.

He has come a long way from last year, when Charlie was little more than Marnie's overly doting long-term swain -- "the boyfriend that, when you wake up in the morning, you can deposit your retainer in his hand," said Kaitlin Phillips, a senior at Barnard who writes recaps of "Girls" for the website Vulture. His manner was compared to "buttered-noodle mother-smothers" by a writer on Grantland.com.

He was often dressed in plaid shirts soft in both color and fabric and paired with matching cardigans "to highlight the softness Marnie was seeing in him," said Jenn Rogien, the costume designer for the show, calling the style "vintage collegiate." His face was baby-soft and clean-shaven, and his hair lacked product.

Then, in what might have been an impressive move, he shaved his head in solidarity with a co-worker with cancer. It was the bold thing to do, "but he was still totally emasculated by Marnie," Ms. Phillips said. "He's not attractive in a sexual way to anyone watching. He's the friend-zone guy, and then you try to date his best friend."

Compared with the show's other male characters -- virile Adam (Adam Driver), brainy Ray (Alex Karpovsky), witty Elijah (Andrew Rannells) -- Charlie came across bland and childish. As for style, Ms. Rogien said, "Elijah's more fashion-forward, Adam is completely not engaged in the fashion game, and Ray might be anti-fashion on purpose."

There were hints of a change in the finale of season one, when Charlie wore a slim mid-tone suit to the wedding of Jessa (Jemima Kirke). …

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