SNARK WEEK: Dear Robin Hood, I Am Seriously Confused


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So, Robin Hood, right? He’s a probably-mythological guy who theoretically lived in medieval England, roughly around the time of King John/The Crusades, right? So, that makes him medieval … right? So … Someone explain to me what the BBC was trying to do when it green-lit the 2007 shitshow that is Robin Hood, because I am seriously confused.

First thing I see is an Anachronistic Corset (more on this in an upcoming Snark Week post), but I’m like, OK, whatever, the costume department is shooting for sexy ye olde time-y, and someone insisted that an underbust corset, which most assuredly did not exist in at any point between the 12th century and the early 20th century, because corset is lazy visual shorthand for sexy.

Let’s just not talk about the camo waders with unnecessary lacing.

But once I gave up on the corset, I noticed Lucy Griffith’s blouse. Which looks an awful lot like something I bought at Forever 21 circa 2002. It’s clearly some kind of stretchy modern knit top. “Huh,” I say to myself. “That’s a weird choice for a blouse.”

But then, I see this.

And that is definitely a shirt I bought at Forever 21 circa 2002. Paired with the same, or similar underbust corset as above, as well as a very, VERY modern skirt. It’s not even questionable historical costuming. It’s full-on questionable modern dress. Seriously, that top with that skirt? I go to IMDB to check that this isn’t some misguided attempt at “modernizing” the Robin Hood story.

Did the Crusades happen in the early-2000s and I just miss it? I mean, I know I had a lot going on, but you think I would have remembered…

I did a little more digging, because now I was really super confused about WTF was going on with the rationale behind these costumes, when I stumbled upon this interview with costume designer Frances Tempest, who designed the first 2 seasons of the show. And I read this:

I went in to talk to them and [Foz Allen, the producer] declared it was “Robin Hood for the Playstation Generation”. And they really wanted to direct it at a young, masculine — it was really directed at teenage boys. That’s what their audience was. If they could pick up other people along the way, all well and good. But it was to be directed at teenage boys.

… Foz’s idea was that Marian should wear the kind of clothes that the teenage girl audience would want to go and buy. He wanted to do a fashion range and put it in Top Shop and call it the Maid Marian range. And I’m glad to say that never happened, but that was his thinking.

— Frances Tempest, Costume Designer

It’s all starting to make sense…

Those grommets are why mommy drinks.

You cannot tell me that isn’t a Gunne Sax dress.

Clearly, this show is just fucking with me, now.

All that said, the show does star Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne, whose sole purpose in the series is to make everyone go, “Robin Who?” Seriously, I can even forgive the Contractually Obligated Leather Pants. Hell, I could forgive Richard Armitage pretty much anything. And who could blame me?

I’m sorry, what now? Couldn’t hear you over the sound of my panties evaporating.

P.S. — There appears to be another Robin Hood remake in the works, slated to come out this year. And from the look of things, we’ve left “Robin Hood for the Playstation Generation” behind and entered into “A galaxy far, far away.”

Ben Mendelson as the Empire’s Sheriff of Nottingham.



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About the author

Sarah Lorraine


Sarah discovered her dual passion for history and costume right around the age of twelve. Dragged kicking and screaming to her first Renaissance Faire at Black Point, she was convinced she was going to hate it, but to her surprise, she fell head over heels in love with the world of reenactment and dress up immediately. Her undergraduate degree is in Clothing & Textile Design, and she has a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture. When she’s not hauling crap to SCA events and ren faires, Sarah enjoys reading true crime books, writing fiction, and sewing historical clothing from the Middle Ages through the 20th-century. One of these days, she might even start updating her old costuming blog again.

41 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    I remember trying to watch this and thinking wtf? Also Marion was totally like not period., even Bill and Ted Excellent Adventure was better. Think Joan and the Princess babes were fun. Besides you know the show is bad when the villain is way hotter than the hero. Kind of like Costner’s Robin Hood really suffered against that Guy of Gisburne.

    • MoHub

      I hate-watched all three seasons, which we referred to as Robin Hoodie. The third season actually had some pseudo-period costumes, but by then it was too late as the plot had gotten so far afield that there was no redeeming it. There was also much discussion of Armitage’s Guyliner.

  2. Sarah Faltesek

    Oh man, this show.
    I hate it. I love it. I hate that I love it.
    The costumes are atrocious, and I’m face-palming so hard I think my eyes might shoot into the back of my skull, and then RICHARD ARMITAGE enters the scene. Suddenly it’s 3 episodes later.
    One thing I did enjoy about the show was that Robin Hood and the Sheriff basically sat around thinking up ways to fck with each other, which is a large part of the mythos for me. When Hood films and TV shows get *too serious, I think “You’re missing the point.”
    I stopped watching at the end of season 2, and I’m honestly a little ashamed that I made it that far.
    But seriously, Richard Armitage.

  3. Stacy

    I’m 90% sure I had that long-sleeve top Lucy Griffith’s wearing in the first pic in the early 2000s, except it was in pink.

  4. Adina

    Oh god, yeah the costumes in here sucked so hard, but I thought it was a funny show so I just put my costume rage aside and enjoyed the jokes and decent writing (until season 3). But Richard Armitage looks like some kinda punk biker XD

    • Alden Tullis O'Brien

      An interview I read literally defined the concept for his look as “medieval biker dude.” I went googling after watching my first episode because I was so wtf, more “relatable modern teen” goals which drive me nuts. But I just decided to “go with it”–the script is also full of wink-wink tongue in cheek anachronisms–and just enjoy it as completely camp fun–mostly because, let’s face it, RICHARD ARMITAGE. Got my daughter hooked and hey, we bonded over it. She could claim Robin and I could have Guy. Everybody’s happy.

  5. Bea

    Apparently, the Beeb missed the memo
    “You don’t have to be different to be good. Being good is different enough.”

  6. Kathleen Norvell

    Makes me yearn for “Robin of Sherwood.” At least the costumes didn’t make me gag.

    • MoHub

      I’ll still stand by the 1950s Richard Greene The Adventures of Robin Hood. Considering when it was made, it got a lot right, and Greene was my first and all-time favorite Robin.

  7. Charity

    The ONLY reason I watched this was for Guy of Gisborne, who was ridiculously, smoldering hot in … yes, those leather pants. My friends and I cracked leather pants jokes for YEARS. Beyond that, the entire show was a giant WTF?

  8. Lisa Kilmer

    Costume fuckery, indeed! Watched it because hubby has loved all things Robin Hood since he was a sprout. I survived only because of Richard Armitage le sigh and the delicious scenery chewing by Keith Allen as the Sheriff.

  9. Karen Lavoie

    I said it in another post, but I’ll repeat it here: It looks to me like they bought their clothes at the Sherwood forest Gap store.

  10. Janette

    My sons who were pre teens at the time could pick some of the historical inaccuracies. I think they bailed after the first season. I didn’t watch enough to notice R.A. It triggered my history pedantry waaay too much as did the follow up trainwreck Merlin.
    I wasn’t hoping for much from the new film after reading the words “edgy new production” and that image just about confirms my worst fears. A pity because the Robin Hood myth is so much fun and I like the middle ages. The period was far more interesting than any series of film shows.

  11. Jochem Cappel

    I used to call him “Emo Surferboy Robin Hood” that series was loaded to the brim with inaccuracies and deviations from the original stories. Was a serious good laugh.

    • MoHub

      Most of the better plot points were stolen directly from the 1950s series. As I watched, I kept shouting out the older series’ episode titles every time the plagiarism showed.

  12. alexandriaweb

    Oh my god you missed my favourite bits of this shit show! The knitted armour! Once you spot it it’s literally impossible to un-spot it!
    Side note; There was much hysteria on a Richard Armitage themed forum (which was un-surprisingly filled with goths), when the BBC decided to advertise series 3 using shots of him looking swoon-y inter-spaced with nose-stud Marian up there and for some baffling reason, soundtracked by The Sisters of Mercy’s Alice (why not Marian huh? Can’t you do anything right 2000’s BBC???)

  13. Marian's Wimple in a Gilded Frame

    Sigh. Snark Week Articles – so feeling the love – many thank yous! : )

    One used to be able to YouTube Dead Ringer’s overt parodying of the show.

    Certainly helped the WTF- rry when trying to watch this “emo – edgy” & “teen – street” version.

    Without R.A. I would not have made it past epi 1.

    Also (as usual at this hallowed site) the article and accompanying responses are a joy to read! : )

  14. Saraquill

    (tease) Maid Marion’s outfit is totally accurate costuming. Doesn’t anyone remember the period known as BEWBZ?

  15. Kaite

    Robin Hood Men in Tights had better costuming and was hilarious in a good way. And I still enjoy Prince of Thieves, the cast was amazing. Robin Hood may not have existed, but the character and myth had plenty of real people to draw from. And why not, King John made it a hobby to piss off everyone he could.
    Will I watch this? Probably not, unless I really need to check out Armitage.

    • Violet

      You really need to check out the Armitage goodness on this show. His Guy of Gisborne is so legendary in the Armitage Army that our Fridays online have been dubbed ‘GuyDay’. Marion was an idiot. No woman in her right mind would turn down Richard. What were the producers thinking?!

  16. Anna

    I remember loving this as a moody 14-year old, so much that I even bought the first season on DVD!! (granted, I was probably pretty much the target age, but ye gods!)
    Rewatching it now is just downright painful, it makes me gringe to think how young and foolish I once was *places palm on forehead *
    And it’s not just the costuming, though the insane level of loose-knit meets Topshop is horrendous, the plot is this weird miss-match of trying to be mature and serious (dealing with PTSD and the cost of soldiering), and then flimsy romancing and love-triangles…
    However, Marion was sort of badass, so yay, feminism! (except, she apparently still needed a man)

  17. Shannon Russell

    First of all, I love all ya’ll! I am with my people! I HATED, HATED, HATED, the costuming and vowed I would not watch another episode. I watched them all ….. because RICHARD ARMITAGE!

  18. elizacameron

    I solely watched this show for Richard Armitage. In fact, I think I fast-forwarded through all of Robin’s scenes. The show did get kind of interesting when they added Toby Stephens and Lara Pulver as Guy’s sister Isabella, in the third season but yeah, it was probably the worst version of Robin I have ever seen. I would rather watch Robin Hood, Men in Tights.

  19. Justme

    These are the things I have a problem with:

    “it was really directed at teenage boys. That’s what their audience was”
    …. So why not have regular historical costumes, only with more cleavage than usual? Their target demographic has played Assassin’s Creed; they sort of know what medieval-ish clothes are supposed to look like. In fact, why not make the guys’ costumes look like the ones in Assassin’s Creed? Not historically accurate, but closer to the mark than this shyte. If the makers of the show think their audience of teenage boys are so idiotic that their little brains would break if shown anything historically accurate, than why not toss history out the window all together and dress them in modern clothes? It’s be better than those “ye olde barmaid in culottes” and “lumpy girl with hair-scrunchie” looks they’ve got on the ladies.
    “Foz’s idea was that Marian should wear the kind of clothes that the teenage girl audience would want to go and buy”
    AHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHHHA!!!!!!! no teenage girl wants to go buy clothes their mom got knocked up in fifteen years ago. She can just raid her mom’s closet for whatever wasn’t donated to Goodwill already.

    This looks BAD.

  20. Lauren G

    I literally watched this purely for Armitage and it’s the one time I shipped Marian with Gisbourne.

  21. Ana

    Director Krennic must’ve either gotten a time machine or the world is messing with me!


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