Unfortunately, the television characters we all know and love are just the figment of some random screenwriter’s imagination. We can’t actually grab a drink with Carrie Bradshaw at a chic SoHo restaurant or ask Peg Bundy for some motherly advice (uh, that last one probably wouldn’t be the greatest idea anyway). Even though these characters are fictional, their physical representations undoubtedly cast lasting impressions on us. As a visual species, we draw cues from our surroundings to create our own looks (or to gain awareness of what not to do). That being said, fictional characters in film and on television play a vital role in shaping their respective generation’s style.
The following women may not actually be real, but their hair has succeeded them in a very palpable way. Be it the best of the best or the worst of the worst— we’re covering ‘em both. Why? Because they’re memorable.
Morticia was one of the first commercial representations of a woman (a ‘housewife’ nonetheless) who strayed from a very traditional female standard in a very conservative society. Her family was delightfully macabre and morbid, unlike the squeaky clean nuclear families depicted in ads for cereal. Morticia was a revolutionary for women who didn’t want to go to bed in rollers or wear checkered dresses. She let her gorgeous hair cascade past her shoulders—before it was even en vogue to do so—in the darkest possible shade of black. Maybe Cher got some tips for her signature long, black locks from this transcendent TV mom.
Remember when I said that we’re going to cover a few bad hairstyles as well? Yeah. This hairdo drove me up the wall as a child. I wanted SO BADLY to reach through the screen with a pair of scissors and cut that damn rattail-looking back piece off. I’m pretty sure Carol Brady started the mullet before mullets became a thing. Like, I’m 98% sure of this. It’s not even just a mullet though—it was elevated to an even worse BOWL-CUT MULLET. Little dutch boy in the front, and not-a-party-I’d-want-to-go-to in the back. Tragic.
Following the unintentional role of television moms as hair icons, maybe there is a reason for it. Mother knows best, perhaps? No, probably not (especially after what we just went through with Carol Brady). Peg Bundy had hair literally so big we have a hard time understanding how any hairspray was strong enough to lift it to the daring heights it reached. With the amount of teasing this ‘do involves, you can almost hear the faint cries of those butchered strands of hair towards the crown of her head. Poor little strands—drowning in Aqua Net while being hacked away at with a fine tooth comb morning after morning.
And of course, we can’t forget her daughter…
Sure, she wasn’t very bright. But she had some Great. Freaking. Hair. And yeah, she toyed with extreme volume in the first few seasons of “Married…with Children” but it was a bit more toned down than her mother’s. She also had an unparalleled cool cachet—like, who didn’t want to dress, look like, and be as adorable as Kelly Bundy? Hell, I still strive to have my outfits look like they came from her closet (and if anything, at least 58% of my neighbors in Brooklyn resemble her in that first picture—so that must say something). The perfect, effortless, cascading blonde locks that probably just dried that way after a wash. The side part that I’m always trying to achieve yet I always wind up looking like Donald Trump instead. I’d even goes as far as to say a side part that defined the 90’s.
A hair icon because she literally did everything with her hair and it ALWAYS LOOKED GOOD. Long and wavy, cropped and choppy, braided, permed—she rocked it. That’s really not an easy thing to pull off. Not to mention, she gave us an identity crisis along the way because we tried to keep up with her ever-changing ‘do (and we did not look half as good and shouldn’t have tried). And be honest, if you were watching a rerun on Nick at Nite, you knew what season of ‘The Cosby Show’ was on by what hairstyle Denise was rocking. Again, with the cool cachet thing—Denise had it. You just wanted to be her.
Now, I’m not one to generally be jealous of/resent/aspire to look like a cartoon character, but I think it’s safe to say Jessica Rabbit is an easy and understandable exception. That perfect, perfect finger wave (you know, because it was drawn) that seductively hides just enough of her face to preserve a bit of enticing mystery. That gorgeous hue of red that inspired my own tresses. Jessica Rabbit has probably never had a bad hair day. Why? Other than the fact that a man most undoubtedly drew her, she just…can’t.
When you watched Twin Peaks for the first time (and if you haven’t, what are you doing???) one of two things crossed your mind when Audrey Horne popped up on the screen: decided you were going to chop off your hair into her perfect throwback quaff or at least considered it. She wasn’t ‘like’ other girls her age—she was very much a woman, an old soul. Audrey Horne’s look and demeanor was a nod to your favorite pinup-meets-sultry-librarian and her blunt ‘do only enhanced her appeal. It’s simple, yet sexy and just “too dreamy.” We still don’t know how Agent Cooper resisted her—oh right, she was a teenager and he was not. Never mind.
Hilary encapsulated the “dumb blonde” persona—without the blonde part. But unlike Kelly Bundy, she didn’t let her dumb persona define her. We may have viewed her as a spoiled shopaholic brat, but she eventually got to laugh in all of our faces when she landed a pretty solid career for herself as a TV host. While she may have developed as a character over Fresh Prince’s run, one thing always remained the same—those perfect curls. She was always my favorite part of ‘The Fresh Prince of Belair’ and always hair goals.
I hate how I even have to put this on here… but it is so expected. So here it goes. After Jennifer Aniston made this painfully layered cut popular, generally known by its name ‘The Rachel,’ it became a landmark style of the late 90s. Who wasn’t cutting their hair like Rachel? But honestly, the piecey highlights, the abundance of layers—it looks like a longer precursor to the dreaded Kate Gosselin haircut that (for some reason) gained popularity a few years ago. We were never, ever fans of this look and pretty glad it stayed buried in the cold, dead ground of the 20th century.
Another fictional TV character who went through a few hair phases, but at the end of the day never strayed from her signature curl, was Carrie Bradshaw. When I was 14 I remember ordering Shirley Temples in martini glasses (not kidding, my dad would do this for me and my friends so we could feel like Carrie)—basically trying to mimic Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in even the simplest way possible. In my quest to embody her, I decided to ditch the straightening iron so I could enhance my own natural curls. I thought ‘all I need is a good diffuser for my hair dryer’ but alas, my curls never came out as defined and perfectly tousled as Carrie’s. All we can do in this life is try.