From RuPaul's Drag Race to Killing Eve, these are the best wig reveals of the year.

By Joey Nolfi
June 24, 2019 at 04:39 PM EDT
Allen Fraser; Jackson Lee Davis/AMC; Netflix; VH1; Patrick Redmond/Focus Features

Warning! This post contains spoilers for various film and TV projects from 2019. Read at your own risk!

According to science, life didn’t truly begin until Dr. Kimberly Shaw removed her wig on season 2 of Melrose Place.

Since that fateful day in 1994, humanity’s subsequent existence can be chalked up to merely attempting to live up to the excitement of the moment we discovered the disturbing truth (hello, gruesome scar!) hiding beneath Miss Shaw’s faux-ginger locks. Melrose Place taught us that, through the art of the wig reveal — whether used as a grand gesture to advance a tectonic plot shift in a scripted project or as a simple, performance-enhancing move meant to enliven a fleeting moment during a drag queen’s set — the power of pulling synthetic strands from one’s head can be a dynamic, impactful, and (usually) jaw-dropping storytelling technique — one that’s currently in the midst of a pop cultural resurgence.

Six months into 2019, several titles (from RuPaul’s Drag Race to Killing Eve) have employed the device to stellar results. Below, EW has assembled several standouts, so, tighten your grip bands and batten down the lace-fronts as you read on for Hollywood’s best wig reveals of the year so far.

The Act: Season 1, Episode 3 — “Two Wolverines”

The real-life circumstances surrounding the life of abused Munchausen by proxy victim Gypsy Rose Blanchard — whose mother, Dee Dee, schemed her way to getting a free house, money, and other gifts from a sympathetic public by touting her perfectly healthy daughter as a frail, sickly sufferer of grave ailments — is no laughing matter. Hulu’s heavily embellished dramatization of the events leading up to Dee Dee’s murder, however, offers a plethora of entertaining wig moments, as Gypsy Rose (a never-better Joey King) rebels against Dee Dee’s (Patricia Arquette) outward charade (which includes incessantly shaving her daughter’s head to keep up the con) by fetishizing herself via colorful wigs, costumes, and secretive, late-night cybersex.

While there are wigs aplenty strewn about The Act‘s eight-episode run, there’s only one delicious wig reveal, which occurs after Dee Dee tracks down a runaway Gypsy to a potential suitor’s home. After pleading with her daughter to leave behind her moment of almost-liberation, Gypsy begrudgingly accompanies her mother back into their trusty minivan as they prepare to head back to the trappings of their self-made suburban nightmare. Dee Dee finally shatters Gypsy’s would-be fantasy for good when, as her stupefied daughter stares out of the passenger window at the life she almost escaped to, Dee Dee snatches her crimson wig right off her head, like a scorned loser at the 2009 Miss Gay Brazil pageant.

Killing Eve: Season 2, Episode 7 — “Wide Awake”

How do you set forth an elaborate international plan to ensnare a creepy-hot media/software/technology (???) mogul — suspected of orchestrating his father’s murder — by infiltrating his inner circle after literally slapping him in the face the night prior? Put a (purple) wig on it! That’s just what Killing Eve‘s lovable assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer), does as she plays a key role in helping MI6 get to the bottom of his heinous deeds. All of that work in creating a false persona (the free-spirited philosophy graduate, Billie) builds to the seminal moment (for the sake of this article, of course) in which an exasperated Villanelle pulls the wig off in a single, swift motion. In the eyes of a casual viewer, it’s an otherwise meaningless moment. But here, it’s a “Yas, Jodie! Yas!” centerpiece.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars: Season 4, Episode 10 — “Super Queen Grand Finale”

RuPaul’s Drag Race fans want three things in life: A break between seasons, Robbie Turner to tell the truth, and a quick mercy-killing of all senseless wig reveals on the main stage. During February’s finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 4, season 10 alum — and resident lip-sync assassin — Monét X Change geared up for the final battle for the crown against season 9’s Trinity The Tuck. A master of lip-sync “gimmicks” (some would call them genius artistic enhancements, thank you very much!) across her season 10 tenure (no one can forget her epic fakeout split), Monét knew she had to, as Anne Hathaway put it, “step her p—y up” for her ultimate lip-sync for a spot in the Hall of Fame. Thus, she amusingly spoofed the ridiculousness of wig reveals by snatching off her own blonde pussycat wig to reveal the same blonde pussycat wig underneath the first one. We stan an icon, a legend, a statement, and a star all rolled into one Change purse!

The Walking Dead: Season 9, Episode 15 — “The Calm Before”

I understand this is a bit of a stretch by normal wig reveal standards. But, hear me out. If we’re going by commonly accepted notions regarding wig reveals, then, no, The Walking Dead‘s resident supervillain Alpha (Samantha Morton) does not remove a “wig” to reveal another “wig” (or a foreboding/shocking secret) underneath. But when you need a wig, you need a wig. Even in the apocalypse, honey, when there aren’t exactly bags of hair readily available for purchase at the fallout shelter. So, let’s break down how Alpha snatches a spot on this list:

At the beginning of The Walking Dead‘s penultimate season 9 episode, we see a walker-faced Alpha attacking a Hilltop carriage carrying new characters Hilde and Miles — both of whom are briefly introduced as a loving couple moments before the Whisperers leader viciously murders them — through the woods. After their deaths, we see Alpha hunched over Hilde’s body, delicately taking a knife to her luscious blonde locks. But why?

Later, as the Kingdom hosts the Harvest Festival, we see Nabila and Jerry conversing about “hope” for their communities amid the joyous celebration. The couple then moves out of frame to reveal Alpha, wearing her self-made wig of Hilde’s hair as a disguise, allowing her to blend in with her foes’ surroundings — an act that clears a path for her to kidnap and behead 10 residents (including longtime focal characters like Alana Masterson’s Tara and Katelyn Nacon’s Enid) completely undetected, as a power-move warning to her enemies’ encroachment upon her territory.

So, this is a reverse-wig-reveal-turned-physical-reveal-of-the-improvised-wig-wearer-sporting-her-newly-made-wig. Sounds like gay rights to me!

Greta

Isabelle Huppert does many iconic things in Neil Jordan’s bonkers stalker-thriller Greta. She flips a table while wearing designer sunglasses and a Chanel suit; she spits gum into Chloë Grace Moretz’s hair; she shoots a man in the head while joyously twirling to Chopin. For all of Greta‘s ridiculous allure (mainly attributed to its boldness in daring to place a refined, respected treasure like Huppert in such zany scenarios), its genre trimmings aren’t as shocking as the film’s script thinks they are. But its momentous twist reroutes the narrative along a surprising course.

In short, we find out that Greta (Huppert) has a penchant for luring young women to her home by abandoning expensive handbags on various subway cars in New York City, leaving her personal information inside so that when unsuspecting victims like Frances (Moretz) find them, they have a direct, deceptively orchestrated line to Greta’s den of torture.

After witnessing her best friend fall victim to Greta’s alarmingly obsessive affections, Frances’ roommate, Erica (Maika Monroe), mounts an investigation into her companion’s disappearance after she falls off the face of the earth. In a series of close-up shots, we see an anonymous brunette find one of Greta’s bags, travel to her home, and converse with the lonely torturess inside her living room — a scenario eerily reminiscent of how Frances became ensnared in Greta’s evil plan. Still, we never see the dark-haired woman’s face. That is, until halfway through the conversation, when Greta falls ill from poison in her tea, with her guest ripping off her weave to reveal that she is, in fact, Erica in a masterful disguise that allowed her to breach the impenetrable barrier of Greta’s home to free Frances from the clutches of evil.

Would this wig reveal have been better had it happened atop Huppert’s head? Sure. But the fact that it unfolds in proximity to Isabelle Huppert, to break Isabelle Huppert — stone-faced, iconic, can’t-be-duped French acting legend *claps* Isabelle *claps* Huppert — makes it all the more satisfying!

J.T. LeRoy

This one’s a bit simple, but, just because Justin Kelly’s amusing, fact-based biopic J.T. LeRoy came and went faster than Renata Klein can smugly say “Amabella,” are we really going to pretend like a movie where Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart change hairpieces literally dozens of times never existed in the first place? Here, scheming author Laura Albert (Dern) and her sister-in-law, Savannah Knoop (Stewart), have just finished scamming a photographer into thinking the literary persona they’ve concocted (played in public by Knoop) is a real person with a real backstory worth covering in a major publication. At the end of the shoot, a flick of Knoop’s wrist sends the wig off and the jig is up. And I Knoop!

The Masked Singer: Season 1, Episode 4 — “Another Mask Bites the Dust”

Okay, so this one isn’t technically a “wig” reveal, but there appears to be a wig (or perhaps several?) sewn into the poodle-themed headpiece concealing the identity of LGBTQ icon Margaret Cho during the first season of Fox’s runaway hit competition The Masked Singer. After several weeks of fooling audiences and stupefied commentators Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, and Ken Jeong into thinking it was perhaps Jillian Michaels or Kathy Griffin belting tunes underneath the canine facade, the act was ultimately revealed to be Cho in a moment that had Jeong’s mouth agape. Call it a headpiece reveal all you want… just know that you’re wrong if you do! The fact that it’s Cho’s fabulous mug hiding under there seals the deal: In the spirit of pride month, I declare this a queer wig reveal whether you like it or not, Mary!

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 11, Episode 8 — “Snatch Game at Sea”

VH1

Brooke Lynn Hytes knew she broke RuPaul’s cardinal rule when she, to quote Mother, “f—d up” her Snatch Game impression of Celine Dion. To make up for it, Brooke snatched America’s collective wig right off its head — as well as the rotund tuft of hair atop her sequined runway lewk — with this gag-worthy ensemble that’s sure to go down as one of the best save-my-own-ass bids in Drag Race her-story.

In Fabric

So, I don’t know where this one is going… yet. In Fabric has yet to be released on a wide scale (outside of a few festival showings at Toronto and Tribeca), but its masterfully wrought trailer teases what appears to be a devilishly satisfying horror story about a murderous dress and the slick removal of a stunning hairpiece. As enjoyable (and genuinely terrifying) as the trailer is, I would’ve been completely sold (and ready to purchase a ticket at full price) even if it had only included the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment above, where the menacing saleswoman who seemingly shepherds the possessed garment from owner to owner pulls off a wig while staring into a mirror. To quote RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Kim Chi: “It’s drama! That’s drag!” Frock realness, but make it demonic fashion!

The Perfection

Years of shaving her head for shock therapy can do quite a number on a gal’s hair. The Perfection‘s Charlotte (Allison Williams) — who endured disturbing sexual assault as a child and, as a result, was locked away in a treatment center to undergo several rounds of the controversial treatment — rightfully seeks revenge for her suffering (read here for a full breakdown of Charlotte’s twisted plot). But, before confronting her abuser, she forces him to see her as more than the object he oppressed all those years ago: He’s going to see the scars, the damage, and the physical toll his actions took on her, before she turns the tables and gives him a painful awakening. And the most powerful statement she can make is, of course, doing it all after a heavily symbolic wig reveal. Amen!


Check back with EW as more wig reveals are added to this list throughout the rest of 2019.

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