In anticipation of the upcoming Coming to America sequel, we decided to devote a week to some observations, questions, and theories we’ve always had about the iconic original.
Juicy-headed Darryl Jenks might not have been the first person 10-year-old me was jealous of, but he’s the first person I can remember where I saw them and immediately felt like “Fuck this dude,” because he had a bunch of things I wanted. A cute girlfriend. A red IROC-Z. A mustache. And while I didn’t quite want a Jheri curl, I definitely wanted a Jheri curl-esque configuration like what MC Hammer had, and what Darryl had was closer to that than I was.
Also, I wanted his clothes. I remember thinking that he dressed like he was from a very chilly future. But after rewatching the movie dozens of times over the past 30 years, I think they put him in the most clown-ass clothes possible to signal to us that he’s a clown-ass nigga. Like, I thought he was from the future because no one dressed like him in 1988. But no one dressed like him in 1998 or 2008 either. He’s the Nikola Tesla of fool-ass-fits.
Anyway, Darryl appears six different times in the movie. Here’s a look at his looks.
Easily the most “human” of Darryl’s fits, the tweed blazer/scarf combo has a very “adjunct professor at a community college” feel to it. Not everyone can pull this look off—the prof fit can go left and make you look like a recently divorced homicide detective—but Eric LaSalle is helped by being handsome and tall.
If you’re curious about what Lisa saw in Darryl—who, despite being rich, didn’t exactly hide that he was an obnoxious wuss—it could be found in this fit, and in Darryl’s many other fits. The women that I have been in relationships with are very frequently cold, and I presume that this is true for many other women, including Lisa. But since Darryl always had at least seven layers of clothes on, there’s always something available—a jacket, a scarf, a sweater, a sweater vest beneath the sweater—that he could take off and give to his iron-deficient partner.
Unfortunately, we don’t get any full body shots while he’s wearing this jacket. But the shoulders look like the cover art for a children’s picture book about a pizzeria run by deer. (This, btw, is from the scene where Sam Jackson tries to rob the McDowell’s, and he should have just shot Darryl for wearing that coat outdoors.)
This coat looks like a traffic sign in a state you’ve never been in. I also appreciate how, in Darryl’s most pathetic moment on screen, his Jheri curl is the drippiest. Like a Lightskint Jheri Curled Sampson, slowly losing his power.
No one knows why Darryl chose this iridescent coat-like substance to rock at his “engagement” party. Or whether it’s a coat or a blazer or a sweater or a housecoat or a robe or a blanket with buttons. Or why he’s still wearing it in the house.
To honor just how truly and transcendently bad Darryl’s double-date fit was, I needed you to see a video of it. I’ve watched this movie 30 times, and this clip 20 times this afternoon, and I still have no idea what the fuck is happening with his coat. It’s like four coats that are trying to get into a club that’s at full capacity, so they were like “What if we try to fool the bouncer by pretending that we’re one coat?” I see a poncho, a topcoat, a peacoat, a caftan, and one red leather glove—basically everything a cowboy might wear at one point in his life, but Darryl tried it all at once.
I want this coat.