Netflix releases their new eight-episode docuseries, Worn Stories, a heart-warming and personal look at clothes and the people who wear them. Created by Jenji Kohan (executive producer of Orange Is the New Black) and based on Emily Spivack’s best-selling book of the same name, the show is expertly adapted for TV. With impressive editing, effective animation and casual interviews, the collection – although light in tone – is a comforting watch that feels like a warm hug.
Each episode is structured around a broad theme or buzzword that ties into some poignant issues and meaningful insights, such as “Community”, “Survival” and “Growing up”. A series of interviews based on the topic are interlaced with each other and sometimes accompanied by different yet striking (non-distracting) animation sequences that add another layer of personality to the well-structured tales. Participants discuss their relationships with clothing, often focusing on a specific item in their wardrobe and then using their chosen garment to dive deeper into moments of their past, sharing their personal history while unpacking their experiences and feelings.
What perhaps makes the 30-minute-long episodes so watchable is Kohan and Spivack’s sense of tonal variation and their ability to craft a narrative that taps into a range of emotions as viewers watch the documentary. One minute, audiences can have their heart squeezed as they see a prisoner sewing in jail and being punished for wanting to alter his uniform to rehabilitate his image. Then a moment later, sadness turns into struggling to keep a straight face as a lively and sexually liberated jockstrap dances across the screen. Every instalment is edited in a way that avoids boredom; however, the programme is difficult to watch in one go.
Too much of a wholesome thing can become tiresome, and Worn Stories proves that fact. Although featuring distinctive interviews, episodes become formulaic. It becomes easy to guess what kind of story will follow the next as the series goes on. Even the differing animation styles struggle to surprise viewers, making the experience lag, especially for binge-watchers. However, when watched in fragments, Worn Stories is a documentary that will charm and make you look at your closet in a whole new way. A conversational collection about people for people, the show is a great reflection on who we are, in and out of the outfits we choose to wear.
Worn Stories is released on Netflix on 1st April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Worn Stories here: