For children of the 90s who absorbed Nickelodeon (and later, Disney) through a television screen, Doug Funnie, of his eponymous cartoon show Doug, stands out as a primary example of someone unwavering in his commitment to a uniform. More than a few episodes take the viewer inside Doug’s closet, where at least six hangers bear an identical set of garments: a green sweater vest, a white undershirt, and Prince-George-length khaki shorts. When afforded this view, a Doug fan can infer that his scrunched white ankle socks and clunky footwear that teeter between red saddle shoes and sneakers line the floor. Doug is not the only civilian in Bluffington, a town uniquely attuned to the taste of beets, who espouses the virtues of uniform dressing, either. More on that later.
In 2018, Doug represents a collision of September-centric themes: back-to-school jitters, nostalgia, uniform dressing and the sartorial challenges prompted by transitional weather. In its day, the show functioned as the 90s answer to Charlie Brown — just sub in Porkchop, the wise-beyond-his-dog-years canine companion, for Chuck’s Snoopy and Doug’s green sweater vest for Chaz’s yellow polo shirt. Doug has his own gaggle of co-stars, too, equivalent to Charlie’s gang of Peanuts, each character more charming than the last. Clad in uniforms, worn day after day for the sake of character development and, I imagine, the ease of the show’s animator, the characters seem so assured in their identities, enough to make a non-cartoon like myself jealous. In another television show on another network in the mid-aughts, Dr. House coined a yearbook quote for high schoolers to come: “People never change, they just become more of who they really are.” As you’ll see below, the cast of Doug is no exception.
Does a project ever land in your lap out of complete happenstance, and your response is, “I. Was. Born. To. Do. This.”? That is precisely how I felt when this Doug Funnie story, which had ping ponged around our September calendar, found its home on my desk. Now, with the help of stylist Brie Welch and model Michelle Phanh, it is my pleasure and privilege to say, “Allow me to reintroduce you to…”
1. Doug Yancey Funnie
Doug’s wholesome and somewhat conservative look is meant to convey his indelible sense of morality to the viewer. Known for his aversion to conforming to seasonal trends, Doug is enjoying a purely coincidental moment en vogue right now as green sweeps the runways.
Urban legend decrees that Doug inspired the Zuckbergian closet, or the fleece vest ensemble running rampant in the Valley. Try to convince me that Jared (née Donald) from Silicon Valley did not pluck this sleeveless Patagonia number ripe from the vine of Doug. Stylist Brie Welch wisely took a sweater vest and reimagined it with sleeves, retaining key details like Doug’s signature shallow V-neck.
“I just saw Doug Funnie get dressed,” Amelia said as she walked by, and we smiled in awe.
2. Judy Funnie
I saw a greeting card in a West Village stationery store the other day that said, “One day I woke up and found I was a thespian,” and I bought it for Judy Funnie. She now lives in downtown New York, around the corner from Film Forum. She may well have inspired the term “self-serious,” and was perhaps Bluffington’s sole Francophile, but flickering behind her dark, reflective frames is a deep, deep well of emotional intelligence and a rabid hunger for La Goulue’s haricot vertes. Per her commitment to the beret, we may never known what the crown of her head looks like, and thus she preserves her air of mystery.
3. Patti Mayonnaise
First name Patti, last name a popular condiment composed primarily of room temperature eggs. Her name, however, is no indication of her personal style, which explores rarely chartered terrain in the palette and pattern departments. The girl does not shy away from a polka dot. Worth noting that she is often viewed through the rose-colored glasses on Doug, and so she can do no wrong. Today, she subscribes to the Lisa Says Gah newsletter, online shops at Rachel Antonoff, and is never without her sensible hoop earring.
4. Skeeter Valentine
Name’s Skeeter, short for Mosquito, “a family name,” he tells Doug. Skeeter pledged himself to head-to-toe, red-and-yellow separates at an early age. Resplendent in his primary colors of choice, Skeeter can today be spotted from afar cruising downwind on his skateboard, whistling to himself as he weaves through the Supreme line on Lafayette. Everything changed for Skeeter after he saw Lords of Dogtown.
5. Beebe Bluff
Beebe’s been known for her cosmopolitan tastes within the microclimate of Bluffington, but after a few years in Manhattan, she’s decided she’d rather be a big fish in a small pond. We find her now late in the afternoon, holding a table for her friends (late, again) at Lucky King Bakery, the closest approximation of Honker Burger she’s found south of Houston, with its pinkish glow, Runts-colored seating and loyal customer base. As she waits for her old pals at the front table, she thinks she hears the Hudson Valley’s beckoning call.
The final episode of Doug aired June 26, 1999, closing out a decade, a century and a millennium of well-cultivated uniforms. I still have a few questions for you: Is the theme song stuck in your head yet? Would you recognize Doug’s voice actor if you heard him in passing on the street? If you had to devote yourself to one of these uniforms, which would it be (or are you more of a Roger Klotz-leather-jacket-and-kilt kinda guy)?