No One Wears Clear Nail Polish In Real Life
Why do so many TV characters? Stephanie Cangro is not a crackpot.
I'm willing to overlook a lot when it comes to good television, but there's one specific stylistic trope that drives me absolutely bonkers -- the complete and utter lack of nail polish. From Serena van der Woodsen to Mindy Lahiri (who you know would be all about customized nail art), it completely takes me out of the moment when I see a coat of clear polish on these ladies who, in the read world, would most definitely have a go-to shade of Essie.
I am not a crackpot.
Noted nail art enthusiast Zooey Deschanel always seems to be showing off her latest customized mani on Instagram, but her New Girl alter-ego Jessica Day -- a character so cutesy that her cell phone has bunny ears -- settles for a single coat of clear? And fashion icons Carrie Bradshaw and Charlotte York sit in a nail salon, carefully drying transparent tips? I don't think so.
Realistically, I understand that this absence is most likely a choice made for the sake of continuity -- The Hills was notoriously called out for poor editing when LC's nail polish randomly changed colors multiple times in a single scene -- but it still feels like a sloppy oversight to me. Have these producers never heard of quick-dry?
And yes, I get that you can't necessarily compare the highs and lows, scripted and reality TV, but there are examples of this trope across the board. Matthew Weiner makes it work on Mad Men (Megan prefers bright white, while Joan sticks to her signature red) and so did Ryan Murphy on American Horror Story: Coven. When a Ryan Murphy show is beating you in the realism department, you have some serious problems.
Aside from the sheer (see what I did there?) inexactitude, this misstep gets to me because I see it as a wasted opportunity; the shows that do choose to pay attention their characters' cuticle care often use the polish to further develop the characters. AHS: Coven's Madison Montgomery was never without a perfectly manicured hand -- even when her character was technically dead -- and her vampy red polish palate helped to inform her character. And nothing screams "evil villain" quite like the talon-shaped claws rocked by contestant Helen Castillo in Season 12 of Project Runway. Even Orange Is The New Black frequently calls out the inmates' use of polish as an infraction against the rules of Litchfield prison, in addition to using nail color as part of the costuming to distinguish flashbacks.
Nail polish even played a major part in two of the strongest reactions I had to TV this past season: Tori Spelling's outing with her kids to a nail salon on True Tori actually made me gag due to the exploitation, while Chummy's careful polishing of her dying mother's fingernails on Call The Midwife brought me to tears.
Asking for television characters to reflect this real-world behavior is a completely arbitrary, but the lack of real nail polish is completely distracting AND completely fixable at the same time. How hard can it really be?