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Wonderfully Awful: A Rant With Teeth


a blogumn by Robin Rosenzweig
Photo Credit: Andres Thor

Photo Credit: Andres Thor

As someone who gets massively geeked out on television, I know as much as the next person that sometimes you have to take what you watch with a grain of salt. It’s called suspension of disbelief, and it allows the viewing audience to accept things like mystical tropical islands with magical time travel powers and ordinary people with extraordinary superpowers. And for the most part, I’m cool with everything my TV shows throw at me, except for one little detail that keeps sticking in my craw…

Exceptionally good teeth.

Yeah, that’s right. Teeth bug me. Teeth. Particularly, when a character on television has way better teeth than he or she should.

I really noticed this a few weeks ago when I was watching the series premiere of Justified on FX. The show follows a rugged lawman played by Timothy Olyphant as he is reassigned to his rural hometown in Kentucky. And although Olyphant has exceptionally good teeth, it wasn’t his that bothered me. It was the ones that belong to his former best friend and current rival Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), leader of a local backwoods white supremacist gang. Here’s a guy who grew up working the Kentucky mines and is currently a violent moonshine-swiller who entertains himself bombing churches. And yet…and yet…his teeth are straight, sparkling and blindingly white. I enjoy pretty much everything about this show, except for Goggins’ incredibly distracting teeth. I just have a hard time buying that this character makes flossing any sort of priority.

About a week later, I settled in to watch a highly anticipated episode of Lost which promised to explain the back story of the island’s resident ageless wonder Richard Alpert. (Caution: spoilerish details ahead.) We were taken back to the Canary Islands in the 1800’s where Richard was hardly among the upper crust who gained any sort of primitive orthodontic services. He spent time as a prisoner accused of murder and as a slave on a ship that crashed violently into the Lost Island. He’s a downtrodden man, and spends most of the episode looking as if his last bath is nothing but a distant memory. And yet, and yet…despite the soot covering his skin, he has the brightest, most well-aligned teeth I ever did see.  

And now that I think about it, these dental distractions are not just limited to Richard Alpert. Let’s look at the entire cast of Lost. Do you mean to tell me that a plane full of people crashed into this island and nobody as much as even chipped a tooth? I know Lost Island is supposed to have magical healing properties. But I’m just not buying that Sawyer in all of his hotness has perfect teeth, be it before the crash during his con-man days or afterward when, you know, his face likely launched into the upright seat back in front of him.

Now I know actors have to have good teeth to get gigs. But at the same time, they’ll also fatten themselves up like a Thanksgiving turkey to gain weight or work out like fiends to drop pounds just to get a part. They’ll sit through multiple hours of makeup to ugly up for that sure-to-be-an-Oscar-winning role. And yet…and yet…the teeth always remain perfect.

I’m not saying actors should tie a string to a door to yank out a tooth to be believable in a role. But perhaps I am saying that maybe it’s time to ease up on the whitening formulas and porcelain veneers. Let’s keep the amazing television teeth where they belong. You know…with the Glee cast and the vampires.