Awards Daily talks to first-time Emmy nominee Leah Katznelson about her costume design work on FX’s Fleishman is in Trouble and how to view Libby (Lizzy Caplan) and Rachel’s (Claire Danes) arcs through their comfort wear.
Even though FX’s Fleishman is in Trouble spans 30 years, costume designer Leah Katznelson focused on one year in particular within the series: 2016, when much of the show takes place.
“A big difference [between 2016 and the other years depicted] is that athleisurewear was really starting to present itself as streetwear attire and people wearing leggings and tank tops,” says Katznelson. “Workout wear became everyone’s everyday [wear] and was a status symbol in a way.”
Of course, for much of the series, audiences believe that the titular Fleishman in trouble is Toby (Jesse Eisenberg), but in Episode 7’s “Me-Time,” we learn that it’s been Rachel (Claire Danes) all along, as we follow her journey from growing up poor to rising in the ranks as a talent agent to succumbing to the pressures of being a human woman and letting out a primal scream. The scene, with Danes wearing a “You Can Go Home Now” shirt,” has become an iconic image from the series.
“[Showrunner] Taffy (Brodesser-Akner) really wanted to present an opportunity for us to play with all of those T-shirts that everyone was wearing, with her slowly unraveling. I think Taffy told me she once saw someone wearing a T-shirt with that message, like saying to someone you shouldn’t be at the gym, you don’t belong here. Those words move over time and morph on screen. We wanted to do it in a way that’s really subtle. […] It’s also very stark because it’s all black and white, and that scene is really about her losing it or finally releasing it.”
I had a great conversation with Katznelson about Toby’s millennial-bro cargo shorts, how Libby’s clothing changes through the series, and how the contentious relationship between Libby and Rachel culminates with them finding common ground in roughly the same comfort wear. Watch below!