TV’s Best (and Worst) Supporting Wigs

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Considering that RuPaul’s Drag Race is a mainstay of my entertainment diet, it’s a bit surprising when a wig on television actually makes me do a double-take. But that’s exactly what happened when I tuned into FX’s The Strain, which stars smouldering chrome-dome Corey Stoll as a CDC agent with a full head of hair. Creator Guillermo del Toro has copped to being behind this follicular felony, saying that he needs to be able to show the character going through a significant transformation, and starting with bare earth didn’t offer him much to work with. (I personally still haven’t gotten over the image of Stoll trying to rape Jonathan Groff with a beer bottle in C.O.G., so it’s all upside for me.)

Anyhow, it got me thinking about other times where wigs have – for better or for worse – distracted from the actor, the performance, or, in one case, an entire sinking ocean liner. Let’s wig out!

Megan Boone, The Blacklist

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Clearly, insidious anti-hair mastermind James Spader was behind the decision to put the adorable Boone under a ten-pound mop. Fans of the show quickly became obsessed with the wig, and complained to the point where the actress actually had to ask people to stop being so mean to her fake hair and just enjoy the show for what it was: Not Silence of the Lambs.

Stephen Moyer, True Blood

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Let’s be honest: Bill Compton’s hair is a hot mess, and has been since Season 1. At one point his bangs had their own Twitter handle (@billsbangs). But no amount of head-spinning sex or fraternity house slaughter could prepare us for the national nightmare that is William Compton’s hair during this season’s Civil War flashbacks. Can we get back to the bloodbath, please? This is just creepy.

Woody Harrelson, True Detective

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Granted, both Harrelson and his costar Matthew McConaughey sported some fabulous faux ’dos in the acclaimed HBO series. And ironically, it would appear that for the flashback scenes Harrelson had to put on a wig, while McConaughey had to pull on his wig for the modern-set scenes. Maybe that’s why they worked so well together as a team? They were like the Jack and Mrs. Sprat of toupees.

Stephen Amell, Arrow

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Don’t even get me started on Ollie’s f*cking flashback hair. The only thing that could make constantly flashing back to that damned island any worse than it already is? The guaranteed appearance of that wretched wig. I mean, just look at the pic on the right, without the wig. See how much better he looks?

Wait, what were we talking about again?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

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Appropriately enough, Selina Meyer’s hair is a war crime, and should be punishable as such. Which made the moment when she cut her hair in the last season without consulting her campaign team all the more hilarious.

Lena Headey, Game of Thrones

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Granted, everyone on this show is wearing a wig somewhere. But Lena Headey takes the crown (well, at least she didn’t kill anyone for it this time!) for her transformation from brunette pixie to honey-tressed terror. (Close second: Emilia Clarke’s blonde ambition as Dany.)

Tom Mison, Sleepy Hollow

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We all know that Mison is perfectly adorable as fussypants Revolutionary relic Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow. But were you aware that underneath that admittedly quite convincing wig stands the pillar of adorkability seen at right? One can’t exactly blame the Horseman for losing his head with that tall piece of shortbread always on set…

Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

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As you may have heard (though not from the Emmy voters, nosiree), Canadian actress and suspected sorceress Tatiana Maslany plays about a dozen different women on the diabolically clever Orphan Black. Unlike some of the other entries on this list, Maslany’s various clones are actually stunningly well-rendered – including their coifs – but the very nature of the show begs us to scrutinize every detail. While Cosima (above) is probably the most distinctive style, my personal favorite is newcomer Rachel:

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Nothing screams “don’t fuck with the protoclone” like a razor-sharp bob.

Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, The Americans

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And finally, we could not end a piece about television wiggery without mentioning The Americans. The show is literally made of wigs. If you have not seen the show, I would not blame you for thinking that it was a high-concept romp about a pile of hairpieces who become sentient and begin spying for the Russians.

It is amazing:

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Kevin Walker, what have they DONE to you?! Note that these are merely two of about 30 different wigs that Rhys has worn on the show… so far.

And let’s all just take a moment to admire the cruel irony that befell our beloved Felicity exactly two hundred full moons from the night she sacrificed her trademark tresses to the Dark Ones in exchange for fame, fortune, and the chance to kiss Nathan Fillion in a movie once:

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Those are just a dozen or so of our favorite on-screen weaves. Do you have a favorite we missed? Share it in the comments!

In 2003, Brian launched the world's first website devoted to horror film from a gay perspective (CampBlood.org), mining an untapped (and occasionally unintentional) source of entertainment and bringing together a huge and colorful population of gay horror fans and filmmakers. When he's not pulling skeletons out of closets, Brian writes reviews for horror megasite Bloody-Disgusting.com, general film site Freezedriedmovies.com, and can be found on the ever-informative RottenTomatoes.com. Brian is also a filmmaker, having produced, written, and directed two shorts (the dark romantic comedy An Apple a Day and the eerie suspense piece Two Story House) that have played at film festivals worldwide and left audiences generally uneasy. A born-and-bred Midwesterner, Brian studied Mass Media and Film at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (I know – crazy, right?) before fleeing the district for the warm and occasionally stinky shores of NYC. Brian is a proud member of the Online Film Critics Society, loving husband to illustrator Andy Swist, and benevolent overlord of their two cats.