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What Not to Say

It should go without saying that the British version of What Not to Wear is vastly superior to its snarky, grating American counterpart. Englishwomen Trinny and Susannah are wise, direct, cheeky, and magnificent. Americans Clinton and Stacey are smarmy, a bit obnoxious, and often trying much too hard to be zany. There is one sublime pleasure to the American show, though the moments when the unstated threatens to burst forth and send the show off in other directions altogether.

Clinton KellyYou see, Clinton Kelly is a bit...swishy. Granted, he's no Carson, but he has a certain way about him that would be a bit much for your run-of-the-mill metrosexual. Being gay is no big deal, and in a lot of ways it's refreshing that they don't use it to explain why he's a style expert, but there are times when the refusal to acknowledge his queerness is as ludicrous as in an old Tony Randall movie. Every once in a while, Clinton runs up against a male guest who's either so gay or so straight that you can cut the tension with a knife. Like a delicious snack!

When guests are totally out and easygoing about it, they almost seem to be baiting Clinton, daring him to relax and gab like one of the girls. With really macho straight guys who are a bit uncomfortable with all the fuss and criticisms of a make-over, you wish Clinton would just make a quick joke about what the guys are thinking and let everyone just get past it. In either case, Clinton shows a panicky, wide-eyed reserve that betrays his worries that his cover might be blown at any second. The silly part is that it never seems like anyone would care: the only tension seems to come from Clinton's panic, not anyone else's. It's a lot of fun watching him squirm. It certainly makes up for all the bad fashion jokes.

Clinton, honey, let it hang out. It's not a paunch that needs to be hidden by a well-cut jacket it's just you. Relax.

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