Let’s Talk About Corey Stoll’s Terrible Hairpiece in ‘The Strain’
In FX's new series 'The Strain,' New York City finds itself battling a vampire epidemic, with only a few members of the CDC standing in the way of total oblivion. If the first episode is any indication, this is going to be fun series, a horror procedural with a lighter touch than 'The Walking Dead' but even more impressive gore. Co-creator and director Guillermo del Toro brings the same comic book energy to the small screen that he does the big one. It's earned our viewership for the first few episodes.
But the show houses a secret evil, a threat more menacing than disgusting eye worms, zombified minions and even that head-smashing uber-vamp. I'm, of course, talking about Corey Stoll's hairpiece.
You probably know Mr. Stoll from the first season of 'House of Cards,' where he played the troubled Peter Russo. If not, you've surely seen him pop up in 'Midnight in Paris,' 'Non-Stop,' 'The Bourne Legacy' and 'Salt.' Although he's yet to have the kind of role that would launch him to superstardom, he's a tremendous actor who has a habit of stealing your attention every time he's on screen. Most importantly, he's done most of his roles proudly and unashamedly sporting his natural bald head.
So why the hell does his Dr. Ephraim Goodweather sport a lousy hairpiece? It's easy to imagine a meeting behind the doors at FX, where del Toro and showrunner Carlton Cuse decided to hire Stoll off the strength of his turn in 'House of Cards,' only to be told that the general public have no interest in bald leading men. Surely the hairpiece was a compromise, something that someone high in the food chain insisted upon while chomping on a cigar and wondering how to sell the show in China.
The problem here is ultimately two-fold. First of all, Stoll's hairpiece is bad and it simply doesn't look good on him. End of story. Those tousled locks belong on a younger and less masculine man and they immediately make him seem like less of a veteran disease-fighting badass and more like a Generic Leading Guy With Dumb Hair. Just look at Mr. Stoll au naturale:
Many men see receeding hairlines and baldness as a weakness, but Stoll crushes the look. His baldness isn't "Oh, I'm so meek and mild and losing my hair wrecks my self-consciousness." His baldness is "I have so much testosterone flowing through my system that I ain't got the time for hair." A bald Stoll looks confident. He looks ready to command. He looks aerodynamic enough to slice through the vampire hordes. Simply put, 'The Strain' took the best looking bald man in Hollywood and made him look like Just Another Guy. Well, just another guy with a freakin' lousy hairpiece. For shame, FX! FOR SHAME!
The second problem is a little more specific: there is no reason for this character to not be bald. His hair doesn't seem to be vital to the character in any way. In fact, we'd suspect that someone with a job as stressful as battling killer viruses all day would have lost his hair ages ago. This means that this bad hairpiece was a specific creative decision that someone made. Someone decided that a bald man simply couldn't lead an expensive new genre series and that fake hair was sooo much better.
As a man who is genetically predisposed to go bald before 40 and who is already showing off a desperate hairline, 'The Strain' made me squint my eyes and shake my fist and do other things to show my anger at no one in particular. Weren't we past this? Wasn't this a battle that Captain Jean Luc Picard and John McClane already fought for us? If a bald man can captain the Enterprise and a balding man can save Nakatomi Plaza from Eurotrash terrorists, then a bald man can fight vampires in New York City!
Do you know what this is, FX? This is discrimination against balds - baldism! - and I'm not going to sit around and tolerate it. You can cover the shiny domes of our greatest warriors with bad toupees, but you will never change the fact that we're out here, fighting the good fight. Someday, Corey Stoll will be allowed to battle a vampire plague without being weighed down by your oppressive mop, your silky locks of lies! We balds and future-balds insist that you write an upcoming storyline where Stoll has his hair ripped out by a vampire and decides to stick with the look, because bald and proud, motherf*ckers!
(Anyway, 'The Strain' is pretty good and you should watch it. But man, that hairpiece.)