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A very un-Hollywood without the make-up

Well, if one thing became readily apparent in the wake of COVID-19 and the entertainment industry’s new way of producing shows, Hollywood isn’t as pretty as we thought.  The industry has always eschewed “average” for “perfection.”  Women on television always rose from sleep with their coifs intact and their make-up un-smudged.  Never a pillowcase line on anyone’s cheek or drool marks on a pillow.

Meanwhile, the men on our favourite shows rarely seemed to need a shave – even those with a distinct Mediterranean background which in my experience, backs up the five o’clock shadow to about 2pm.  No matter how long they spent sitting, running, or fighting, their clothes never showed a crease or sweat stain.  And despite their abs of steel, they rarely exercised.

Scenes in which the stars were able to get roughed up were still lit for their best angles, the bruises and cuts artfully created for the most drama.  And the torn clothes still flattered their curves or biceps.

Then there’s the rest of the on-camera moments: the award shows, the talk shows, the social media photos.  They always looked physically perfect in their designer outfits.  I once read that Jennifer Lopez would bite the inside of her cheeks to get the best jawline for red carpet photos.

I can’t make it to the end of the day with my make-up intact.  Yet these folks always looked swoon-worthy.  It was an illusion, of course, created by a team of unseen professionals.  But they rarely seemed to have a bad hair day, let alone a wrinkle.

Fortunately, COVID seems to have leveled the playing field for us “average” folk.  Television interviews shot from home without professional lighting, a hair and make-up team, not to mention free designer duds, have left the stars looking a little less than picture perfect.

And it’s been pretty nice.  CTV’s Marilyn Denis, at 62, has always been gorgeous.  But after months of shooting without a studio and seemingly no eye make-up, she actually looks her age.  Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and other latenight guys have foregone the prerequisite suits while sweating through heat waves, fighting with growing 80’s hair, and wearing fold-creased shirts on air.

Their guests, still the hottest stars, have shown up via video-chat with similarly less-than-styled looks.  They appear pale, wrinkled, more tired, and thankfully, do a lot less posing for the camera.  Awkwardly framed from the neck up and fighting a two-second delay in the video, the women don’t worry about crossing their legs at just the right angle.  Meanwhile, the men don’t have to be charming and sexy for a studio audience while answering questions.

If anything, it’s a little more honest and straightforward than previous interviews on-set.

Which makes me wonder what will happen when production returns to “normal.”  Is it even worth it for Hollywood to dress up anymore?  The illusion is gone.  It’s like we’ve pulled the curtain on the Wizard of Oz.

And it turns out, Hollywood looks just like us.