Last night I saw you again.
It was the season finale of HBO’s drama The Undoing, starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Lily Rabe, and Donald Sutherland. I should’ve been focused on savoring the final installment of the opulent melodrama, but I couldn’t. Even as Nicole Kidman descended in a private helicopter to save her son from the clutches of her deviant spouse, I should have been sneering at the obscenities afforded the wealthy even in fiction, but I couldn’t.
I couldn’t, and it was your fault.
Let’s get a couple of things perfectly clear, I’m a woman, I’m 37, and I think everyone who finds themselves able and desiring should get whatever cosmetic procedure their hearts and minds deem necessary. You don’t have to be a Hollywood A-Lister to get that Hollywood’s not exactly hip to letting anyone age, let alone a woman.
Heck, fillers, I’ve considered you myself and I work almost entirely from home where I live with a partner who doesn’t even like it when women wear makeup. I can’t imagine what my perspective would be if I were a person whose bread and butter relied in large part on people eager to pay for the pleasure of feasting on my face with their eyes.
I get the appeal, especially for female actors who are aging in high definition. We don’t live in a world that celebrates the depletion of collagen if you are also in possession of a uterus. Hugh Grant’s weathered skin, a tired sun-worn pair of cricket gloves, is all well and good, but if Nicole Kidman dared to have matured from the days when she first enchanted us in films like Far and Away and god help us all.
I resent you, fillers, for convincing any woman, let alone a woman of Kidman’s considerable mastery of the craft, believe that, in order for their work to be celebrated or even seen to begin with, they must maintain the illusion that aging is the domain of their male co-stars alone.
There is an argument to be made that Kidman’s unconfirmed cosmetic tweaks are just one more way in which she goes to extremes to portray a character. Playing the role of suicidal author Virginia Woolf in The Hours, she donned a prosthetic nose and was met with an oscar for Best Actress. In Moulin Rouge, production came to a halt when Kidman, pushing herself to the proverbial limits, broke a rib while performing a dance number on a trapeze. When she filmed Eyes Wide Shut she cried for hours before filming an intense argument with her screen husband and then real-life husband Tom Cruise.
We’ve always accepted that serious actors are willing to go to extreme lengths to transport us with their characterizations with the understanding that when the performance is over, they are allowed to be themselves again. When Kidman put Woolf away, she left the nose on the makeup bench. After Moulin Rouge, her bones mended. Admittedly, she likely kept fighting with Cruise, but that is beside the point.
Fillers, I know you are impermanent, but I have a feeling neither Kidman nor other female greats of the stage and screen have any intention of leaving you behind.
Today I should be talking about how clever it was of ‘The Undoing’ to trick their audiences into thinking they were watching a whodunnit. I should be talking about the artful final act of the episode, of Hugh Grant’s grim, measured performance. I should be talking about the unexplored issues of race and class poured out onto the surface on the drama which never really took root.
But instead, fillers, I’m here talking about you, and I’m tired of it.