Normally I am not a huge fan of gritty reboots, but the new HBO Perry Mason (2020) series immediately caught my eye. While the original long running TV show Perry Mason (1957-1966) was set contemporaneously with the era it was filmed in, this new series flashes back to Mason’s start in the legal profession in 1930s Los Angeles. It is also helped by the fact that Mason is portrayed by Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, one of those actors who is always satisfying to watch because he’s really good and he’s easy on the eyes. Since we are only halfway through the series run, this post is not going to delve too deeply into the plot, but there’s been enough good costume content so far to talk about, so I figured a post was in order!
I do want to put a trigger warning on this post, though, mainly to warn readers that the show is a very rough watch in places. The plot centers around the high-profile kidnapping of a baby, which goes awry and results in the death of the baby. Gruesome scenes involving the baby, as well as others who befall brutal deaths is pretty much peppered throughout the first 4 episodes that I’ve watched so far. For some people that will be a deal breaker, and I get it. That’s why I will be sticking to the costume content rather than the plot development.
And because this is set in the 1930s, the menswear isn’t all that interesting (suits and variations on them for everyone with a Y chromosome) so I’m going to focus on the women’s clothing from here on out.
Della Street (Juliet Rylance)
Della is the assistant to attorney, E.B. Jonathan, and is his done-with-your-shit Girl Friday. She’s always smartly dressed, and is unquestionably the brains of the outfit.
Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany)
Sister Alice is based on real-life celebrity preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. In the show, she primarily wears a white satin bias-cut dress with various stoles and collars switched out depending on the sermon. She does occasionally get to wear regular clothes, which are always light-colored and tastefully fashionable.
Emily Dodson (Gayle Rankin)
I was excited to see Gayle Rankin in this show, having loved her character Sheila the She-Wolf on G.L.O.W. Here she plays Emily, the grieving mother of the murdered baby, whose life just keeps getting crappier and crappier.
Lupe Gibbs (Veronica Falcón)
Probably my favorite female character in the show, Lupe is the closest thing Perry Mason has for a love interest, and that’s not saying much. She’s allegedly based on Florence “Pancho” Barnes, a female pilot and entrepreneur of the 1930s, though that’s really the extent of the similarity. She’s usually dressed in stylish, but practical trousers, blouse and boots. She does get a sexy velvet gown for the New Year’s scene, too.
No idea who this actress is because she’s not listed on IMDB, but she’s cute and dresses amazingly. She is introduced in the fourth episode as a young woman who lives in the same house as Della. Both her costumes were noteworthy, so I included her here. At one point she wears a Chinese pajama set, including matching gloves, that is undoubtedly an original 1930s set.
Are you watching the new Perry Mason? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!