Jericho: England Meets Old West

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Jericho (2016) is a recent British ITV production that’s just been released for streaming in the US on Acorn.tv. I’ve been following news about the production for a while, so I thought I’d fire it up.

I wasn’t exactly sure how exciting it would be:

“In 1870s Yorkshire, Annie Quaintain, a recently widowed mother, is forced to sell her house and possessions to pay off her late husbands debts. Penniless and shunned by society, Annie and her two children set out for Culverdale Valley, where an enormous railway viaduct is being built. She sets up a lodging house in Jericho, a lawless shanty town full of rough and rowdy workers.”

However, I surprised myself by binge-watching the whole season over about four days! (Okay, so I was feeling supremely lazy about doing anything else…). I don’t know if it was the best thing I’d ever seen, but it was entertaining enough to keep me engaged, and I had fun checking out some of the costumes and boys (and hate-watching aspects of the hair, but then you know me!).

Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) plays Annie Quaintain, who at the beginning of the series has just been widowed and kicked out of her house with her two children. She randomly hears about work being available in a nearby temporary camp/town set up for builders of a railway viaduct and tromps off with kids in tow to the English Old West.

The setting appears to be the very early 1870s, when ladies are still wearing small hoops but with bustles and draped overskirts. The costumes were designed by Lorna Marie Mugan, whose previous work includes Peaky Blinders and Ripper Street.

Jericho (2016)

Annie begins in her fancy mourning clothes, all proper n’ shit.

Costume designer Lorna Mugan said about this outfit, “I imagined her like a woman out of a Renoir painting – La Parisienne – wearing an electric-blue dress. So although when we meet Annie, she’s officially in mourning, she’s not wearing black but deep blue. At the beginning, we see her in silk, but towards the end of the series she is dressed in tougher, more-forgiving upholstery fabric. Even though she has fallen on hard times, she always maintains a dignified façade” (Jericho: Behind the scenes of a new ITV period drama).

Jericho (2016)

She has one daughter, Martha, who’s a teenager but hasn’t figured out about hairpins yet.

Jericho (2016)

And a younger son, George, who wants to grow up too fast.

Annie almost immediately sets up a boarding house and becomes an enterprising businesswoman.

Jericho (2016)

She also immediately gains a more practical wardrobe and starts wearing part of her hair down, no matter how much manual labor she’s doing.

They were clearly trying to show Annie’s relaxation — actress Jessica Raine said, “The audience can watch her physically relax, the clothes become more practical, the hair comes down and becomes softer. It is like a releasing of all those strict Victorian morals” (press info).

How I felt about Annie's partially-down hair. They managed to maintain an elaborate hairstyle, but they want me to believe that she'd just leave 1/3 of her hair streaming all over the place? While doing laundry in a creek?

How I felt about Annie’s partially-down hair. They managed to maintain an elaborate hairstyle, but they want me to believe that she’d just leave 1/3 of her hair streaming all over the place? While doing laundry in a creek?

Jericho (2016)

Although her wardrobe gets very practical, the fit was really nice which made me happy.

Jericho (2016)

Despite the frickin’ hair.

Jericho (2016)

Martha couldn’t find hairpins, but she did manage to find something to tie her always-over-one-shoulder braid. Unlike her mother.

Jericho (2016)

Gettin’ butter-churny.

Jericho (2016)

Great hair if you ignore what’s going on below the chin!

On her way into town, Annie meets Johnny, played by Hans Matheson. Hans doesn’t usually do it for me — he can be kind of Neanderthal — but for some reason he surprised me with his hotness in this. It helps that he plays a super noble character who very quickly falls in LURVE with Annie. I don’t know, I like a bad boy but I also like them hot and principled.

Jericho (2016)

Johnny being gentle yet manly with Annie. Yes please.

Jericho (2016)

The facial hair also helps. *rrrrr*

Jericho (2016)

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re welcome.

The nice thing is that there’s an interesting upper-class character — Isabella Lambton — who has a quite smashing wardrobe minus some surprisingly modern prints. So if you’re afraid of too many practical blouses, you get to check this out as well:

Jericho (2016)

Isabella with the company owner (Charles Blackwood) and his servants Ephiphany and Easter — ah, the charmingness of whites who name their servants/slaves after classical/religious things!). Isabella’s dress is a beautiful cut and I am a sucker for coat-style collars and wide cuffs.

Jericho (2016)

But this print … da fuq? Okay, I am totally ready for someone to tell me that this is 100% period! But to my eye it looks very 1930s.

Jericho (2016)

Next we have a similarly deco-printed black and pink number.

Jericho (2016)

I can’t find you an all-over shot, unfortunately.

Jericho (2016)

Then this blue and white number, also lovely.

Jericho (2016)

The print isn’t AS modern, but it certainly doesn’t read 1870s to me. Please convince me otherwise.

Jericho (2016)

Although the dull green color is zzzz, I like the cut and how they paired it with the striped petticoat (and how they used the stripes for trimming).

Jericho (2016)

Who would wear that color green though? It’s doing her no favors…

Jericho (2016)

That sheer hat tho!

Jericho (2016)

Just like Annie, all of Isabella’s wardrobe fit her very well and was cut really nicely. I like how they laid out the plaid here!

You’ve also got other boys:

Jericho (2016)

Charles Blackwood, company owner.

Jericho (2016)

Most interesting, character-wise, was Ralph Coates (Clarke Peters), an American ex-pat who gets hired on to manage the works.

Jericho (2016)

It was really nice to see Black characters existing and — shockingly — one with a major role!

Back to the ladies:

Jericho (2016)

Alma Capstick (redhead on the left) is the daughter of the saloon owners (including Sophie Thompson, sister of Emma, with fabulous blonde hair).

Jericho (2016)

She’s something of a spitfire — here’s her costume from her one foray into music hall. Cute!

Jericho (2016)

She wears this for a wedding dress, which… yes, women often wore their best dress, which wasn’t necessarily white, for their weddings in the 19th century. But did they really wear whore red?

Jericho (2016)

You’ve also got madame/prostitute Lace Polly. It was nice to see an middle-aged woman in this role, and her wardrobe is appropriately shiny…

Jericho (2016)

Even if I wasn’t 100% about the bangs and side-swept hair.

Jericho (2016)

I liked seeing another prostitute character (Mabel, second from right) who is on the larger side and still considered attractive.

Jericho (2016)

And Ephiphany, who comes from the Blackwood plantation in Jamaica, maintained a bit of her roots in her headscarves and large earrings.

Sadly the series was cancelled after the one season, but I recommend giving it a whirl!

 

Have you seen Jericho? What did you think of those potentially crazy prints, and Annie’s hair, and Hans’s hotness or lack thereof?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

12 Responses

  1. Andrea Somerville

    I haven’t heard about this show…how recently did it come out?

    Oh, & Kendra, I’ve got to disagree with you about Hans. He was incredibly sexy as Dr. Zhivago(despite the zzzz pace of that adaptation.) He played the painter Caravaggio in something else awhile back too & tho it was a major cheese fest of a movie, he looked delicious throughout(lots of scenes of Hans’ bum LOL.) He did look miserably boring in The Tudors as Archbishop Cramner, but guess clergy men aren’t supposed to ooze sex appeal?

    Explain where you get the Neanderthal-esque vibe from him? I totally KNOW that kinda look/vibe(equally NOT attracted to it either,) but I’ve never gotten it from him.

    Lol, I’m right on board with your choice of men…I LOVE the baddies too(hello, Ramsay Bolton from GoT??!!) Now, I feel so let down & confused :(

    Reply
  2. Kelsey

    Regarding the red dress.
    1. Red was not actually regarded as a whorish color in the Victorian Age. Manly, powerful, yes. Risqué, no.
    2. My little local county museum has two Victorian wedding dresses that are red. This is in a small town area. Another local museum I know of has a red wedding dress as well. I’d venture to say the most popular colors for wedding dresses back in the day here were brown, blue, white, and red, in that order.

    Also, blouse and skirt ensembles are so very wrong for the 1870’s. Those are quite disappointing to see.

    Reply
  3. Black Tulip

    When this was broadcast the hair irritated me so much that I could never bring myself to watch it – so thank you for showing me what I missed, costume-wise!

    Reply
  4. Susan Pola

    I will definitely see if my library has it. If so, I will watch and throw Kirby clips (Bobby pins) at the screen when women are on whose hair down. Prostitutes will be exempt.

    Reply
  5. Sewknotwrite

    You are so right! Those prints made me think of IKEA textiles. Especially the circles.

    Reply
  6. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I love this review but I have 2 points to bring up. First the lack of an updo on Martha. Young girls in their early teens would not have their hair done up at that time. That was a right of passage to signal that they were of marriageable age and much fuss would be made when a girl started wearing “long dresses and their hair up.” Though I do agree that her mother should have her hair completely up the entire series with perhaps a few straggles when working hard.
    The second point is the green dress that Isabella wears is more correct than the brighter dress that the Madam is wearing. Around the 1870’s it was discovered that the arsenic used to set the vivid greens that were popular at that time was actually deadly and would leach through the fabric and be absorbed into your skin. So most of the upper classes stopped wearing them.

    Reply
  7. Mr Elton

    The blue and white prints are very Japanese (shibori-like), and not entirely wrong for 1870’s Japan. 1870’s Yorkshire – most likely not.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Yes, I did see an article where (the actress? the costume designer?) talked about these as being Japanese prints, which I can totally accept, and yes Japonisme was totally a thing in the West of this era… but I’ve just never seen anything like it, in this period, in Western fashion. 1930s, yes.

      Reply
      • brocadegoddess

        This is my sort of gut reaction also; however, I’ve periodically been pretty surprised at how modern some of the prints they used throughout Victorian 19th century. I can’t say I’ve seen anything quite like these, just that I’ve been surprised by others so that I *might* not dismiss them outright.

        Reply
  8. Alisa

    I haven’t watched this yet, but the practical blouse outfits and the hairstyles remind me sooo much of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman – which, in my book, is a good thing and gets a pass for nostalgia. I might have to give this a try.

    Reply
  9. Bronwyn Mroz Benson

    I keep scrolling past this on Acorn but haven’t watched it yet. I may have to now. :)

    And I totally agree on Hans Matheson. Neanderthal-y is a good way to put it!

    Reply

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