Favorite Thing: States of Undress

Chuck and I have been watching a lot of VICELAND lately, the new cable channel from VICE. Its documentary-style format and controversial topics keep our attention. We often hit the pause button to discuss whatever the subject matter is.

Though I’ve only seen four of the six scheduled episodes, I’m comfortable telling you that States of Undress is one you should watch. Model and actress Hailey Gates travels to war-torn, tumultuous countries – like Pakistan, Russia, Congo – to investigate the role fashion plays in various cultures.

Hailey Gates

But this show is much, much more than fashion. It peels away the layers of societal roles, the power of the government, how natives explore (or can’t explore) self-expression, and how the world responds to each culture’s norms. So far, the episode with Hailey in Pakistan is the most intriguing. One minute she’s at Karachi Fashion Week, the next she’s in a burka talking to a religious leader with strong ties to Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. (Currently, this episode is free to watch online.)

Three Things I Love:

  1. It explores the role and impact of self-expression in diverse cultures. And by “diverse,” I mean cultures that are vastly different from my own. I spent much of the Russia episode with my jaw to the floor.
  2. The span of topics within one episode is wide and there is always a history lesson. For example, in the Russia episode, we get a recap of how regimes shifted from Yeltsin to Putin and how the generations have responded to the change in value systems. Again, jaw to the floor.
  3. Hailey Gates is a natural. She’s a pleasure to watch.

A second show we enjoy watching is Balls Deep. Nothing is off limits for Thomas Morton, which means it’s mostly definitely not a show for kids.  (If you can, watch episode #3 when Thomas joins a Muslim family in Michigan to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. It’s fascinating.)

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