If there is any such thing as a surefire formula in contemporary television, it applies to the hairstyles sported by female characters. It turns out that there’s really only one good one, and all women are expected to wear it regardless of age or race. It’s one ’do to rule them all. In an article for Racked, Julia Rubin calls it simply “The Hair” and defines it as “straight-up-top, loose-curls-on-bottom.” Leslie Knope had The Hair. Seemingly every actress on Jane The Virgin has it now. So do the title characters of New Girl and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, not to mention Cookie on Empire. Like that $23 dress favored by meteorologists, The Hair is everywhere and for roughly the same reason. It’s both practical and presentable.

Cynthia Vanis, who manages entire hair departments for film and TV studios, describes The Hair as “super relatable and versatile” as well as “not specific.” That point seems to be crucial. The Hair isn’t tied to any particular demographic. Any fictional woman can reasonably wear it. Rubin points out that this look is not terribly difficult to achieve but is nevertheless rare to nonexistent in real life since it defies nature. Vanis counters that, while this ’do may appear odd when a real person wears it, The Hair photographs incredibly well and helps actresses maintain a strong on-camera profile, which can be technically tricky to achieve with other, lesser hairstyles. The Hair doesn’t cover up the side of a woman’s face. Plus, when this aspect of a character’s appearance is standardized, it leads to fewer continuity errors. So get used to seeing a lot of female TV characters with loose curls, binge watchers of the world.

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