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Pop Culture

Have you noticed your favorite shows don't look as good as they used to? This viral post explains why.

A fascinating look at quality versus quantity.

game of thrones, house of dragons, lotr costumes

One of these things is not like the other.

For fantasy fans, it truly is the best of times, and the worst of times. On the bright side—there’s more magic wielding, dragon riding, caped crusading content than ever before. Yay to that.

On the other hand, have you noticed that with all these shows, something feels … off?

No, that’s not just adulthood stripping you of childlike wonder. There is a subtle, yet undeniable decline in how these shows are being made, and your eyes are picking up on it. Nolan Yost, a freelance wigmaker living in New York City, explains the shift in his now viral Facebook post.

The post, which has been shared nearly 3,500 times, attributes shows being “mid,” (aka mediocre, or my favorite—meh) mostly to the new streaming-based studio system, which quite literally prioritizes quantity over quality, pumping out new content as fast as possible to snag a huge fan base.

The result? A “Shein era of mass media,” Yost says, adding that “the toll it takes on costuming and hair/makeup has made almost every new release from Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu have a B-movie visual quality.”

He even had some pictures to prove it.


Yost first addressed the Amazon Prime Series “The Rings of Power.” One of the many, many things that makes Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy so iconic is the costumes. But that legacy was the direct result of dedication to detail.

“The production spent years hand-making every single piece of armor with real metal, hand-dyeing all-natural fiber fabrics, and designing distinct embroidery and hairstyles specific to each race in Middle Earth that had continuity through the story,” Yost wrote.

He added, “the natural dyes and dedicated layers of fabrics for elves, for hobbits, wool/dyes, and for men had a much more muted/medieval look, yet ethereal because of the slight detail you don’t really notice, but the depth draws your eye to every inch of the costume regardless.” This, he says, is why those three movies stand the test of time.

Compare this to the two images from “The Rings of Power,” below. In one photo “they barely scrapped together an unnaturally gilded scale mail breastplate and just screen printed a stretched long sleeve shirt to match underneath, all over a skirt in a single layer of a warped poly skirt.”

rings of power, house of the dragon

Now you too can look like you're from Middle Earth for the low, low cost of $10.99.

Nolan Yost/Facebook

The other image shows “they just saved money on an Elven wig altogether for a 2022 pompadour, with a velvet pleated priest smock (with crushed parts not even steamed out), and a neckline that isn’t tailored to fit like we’ve seen previously with Elrond or Celeborn.”


Yost then moved onto HBO’s “House of the Dragon.” Arguably even those who have never seen a single episode of its predecessor, “Game of Thrones,” would still recognize Daenerys Targaryen for her platinum white hair—an attribute that Yost notes was quite expensive.

got hbo

It cost big bucks to be a Khalessi.

Giphy

He explained that for the show’s final season alone, Daenerys’ wigs most likely cost tens of thousands, requiring human hair to be custom made into multiple wigs.

Luckily, there was only one character with that signature look in the show. For “House of the Dragon,” however, with a cast almost entirely made up of silver-haired brooding powerhouses, Yost surmises that due to budget constraints, the creators opted for synthetic wigs.

You can see below the problem this cost-cutting decision makes in terms of authenticity.

house of the dragon, house of the dragon wigs

Luckily, Matt Smith is such a good actor a few stray hairs are an easily forgivable.

Nolan Yost/Facebook

“Synthetic hair reflects light throughout the whole hair shaft and it tangles extremely easily,” Yost writes. “With any shot where a character isn’t actively moving or is performing dialogue and the hair isn’t being actively smoothed down every couple of seconds between shots, each flyaway is going to show up on camera if there’s any indirect lighting and look messy. Not only that, synthetic hair is also twice as thick per strand than human hair, so regardless of that the wigs are going to look bulky in an uncanny valley sort of way.”

This affects not just sci-fi and fantasy, but other genres meant to transport viewers into other worlds, like period pieces, which Yost points out with a picture from “Bridgerton” by Shonda Rhimes.

bridgerton

Yeah, this does look like they're wearing curtains. And not in a fun "Sound of Music" kind of way.

Nolan Yost/Facebook

“It’s obviously not meant to be historically accurate, which is totally fine,” he writes, but without important details or embellishments or even proper undergarments to make the clothes fit well, everything looks like a slightly more expensive Halloween costume.

Yost’s insightful post really shines a light on what audiences are having to trade off for the sake of constant output. The phrase “done is better than perfect” takes on a new meaning altogether as studios race to meet a deadline with whatever is easiest to mass produce. But if viewers are so easily taken out of these stories because of noticeable corner cutting, then perhaps it’s a sign that what we really want and need are stories worth waiting for, ones that truly pull us in and leave us captivated. This is no easy ask, for studio execs or customers alike (I too am a voracious binge-watcher), but as we can see in these examples, the most valuable experiences rarely, if ever, come from rushing.


This article originally appeared on 9.10.22

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Music’s biggest night took place Sunday, February 4 with the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Now, fans have the opportunity to take home a piece of the famed event.

Longtime GRAMMY Awards partner Mastercard is using this year’s campaign to shine a light on the environment and the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), a forest restoration program with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. Music fans are 1.5 times more likely to take action to help the environment, making the GRAMMY Awards the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“Through our GRAMMY Awards campaign, we’ve created an opportunity for our brand, our partners and consumers to come together over shared values, to participate during a moment when we can celebrate our passion for music and our commitment to make meaningful investments to preserve the environment,” says Rustom Dastoor, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, North America at Mastercard.

The campaign kicked off with an inspired self-guided multi-sensory tour at the GRAMMY House presented by Mastercard, where people journeyed through their passion of music and educational experience about Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to tree restoration. Then, this year’s most-nominated GRAMMY artist and a passionate voice for the environment, SZA, led the charge with the debut performance of her new song, Saturn.

Mastercard’s partners are also joining the mission by encouraging people all over the country to participate; Lyft and Sirius XM are both offering ways for consumers to get involved in the Priceless Planet Coalition. To learn more about how you can support these efforts, visit mastercard.com/forceofnature.

While fashion is always a highlight of any GRAMMY Awards event, SZA’s outfit worn during her performance of Saturn was designed to make a statement; made of tree seeds to help spread awareness. Fans can even comment ‘🌱’ and tag a friend on Mastercard’s designated post of SZA’s GRAMMY House performance for a chance to win a tree seed from the performance outfit*.

“SZA has a personal passion for sustainability – not just in forest restoration but in the clothes she wears and the platforms and partners she aligns herself with. It was important to us to partner with someone who is not only showing up big at the GRAMMY Awards – as the most GRAMMY-nominated artist this year – but also showing up big for the environment,” says Dastoor.

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Kampus Production/Canva

How often do you change your sheets?

If you were to ask a random group of people, "How often do you wash your sheets?" you'd likely get drastically different answers. There are the "Every single Sunday without fail" folks, the "Who on Earth washes their sheets weekly?!?" people and everyone in between.

According to a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Mattress Advisor, the average time between sheet changings or washings in the U.S. is 24 days—or every 3 1/2 weeks, approximately. The same survey revealed that 35 days is the average interval at which unwashed sheets are "gross."

Some of you are cringing at those stats while others are thinking, "That sounds about right." But how often should you wash your sheets, according to experts?

Hint: It's a lot more frequent than 24 days.

While there is no definitive number of days or weeks, most experts recommend swapping out used sheets for clean ones every week or two.

Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD told Cleveland Clinic that people should wash their sheets at least every two weeks, but probably more often if you have pets, live in a hot climate, sweat a lot, are recovering from illness, have allergies or asthma or if you sleep naked.

We shed dead skin all the time, and friction helps those dead skin cells slough off, so imagine what's happening every time you roll over and your skin rubs on the sheets. It's normal to sweat in your sleep, too, so that's also getting on your sheets. And then there's dander and dust mites and dirt that we carry around on us just from living in the world, all combining to make for pretty dirty sheets in a fairly short period of time, even if they look "clean."

Maybe if you shower before bed and always wear clean pajamas you could get by with a two-week sheet swap cycle, but weekly sheet cleaning seems to be the general consensus among the experts. The New York Times consulted five books about laundry and cleaning habits, and once a week was what they all recommend.

Sorry, once-a-monthers. You may want to step up your sheet game a bit.

What about the rest of your bedding? Blankets and comforters and whatnot?

Sleep.com recommends washing your duvet cover once a week, but this depends on whether you use a top sheet. Somewhere between the Gen X and Millennial eras, young folks stopped being about the top sheet life, just using their duvet with no top sheet. If that's you, wash that baby once a week. If you do use a top sheet, you can go a couple weeks longer on the duvet cover.

For blankets and comforters and duvet inserts, Sleep.com says every 3 months. And for decorative blankets and quilts that you don't really use, once a year washing will suffice.

What about pillows? Pillowcases should go in with the weekly sheet washing, but pillows themselves should be washed every 3 to 6 months. Washing pillows can be a pain, and if you don't do it right, you can end up with a lumpy pillow, but it's a good idea because between your sweat, saliva and skin cells, pillows can start harboring bacteria.

Finally, how about the mattress itself? Home influencers on TikTok can often be seen stripping their beds, sprinkling their mattress with baking soda, brushing it into the mattress fibers and then vacuuming it all out. Architectural Digest says the longer you leave baking soda on the mattress, the better—at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. Some people add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda for some extra yummy smell.

If that all sounds like way too much work, maybe just start with the sheets. Pick a day of the week and make it your sheet washing day. You might find that climbing into a clean, fresh set of sheets more often is a nice way to feel pampered without a whole lot of effort.

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Super Bowl ad showing real-life NFL 'Taylor Swift effect' is bringing people to tears

The daddy-daughter storyline is a tearjerker, without saying a word.

One dad and daughter share their new football bond.

Dads and daughters often have a unique bond, which can sometimes hit a rocky spot as adolescence approaches. It's not that the love isn't there, but swift changes in development can leave them both reeling and struggling to connect the way they used to.

In an unexpected turn of events, many fathers are finding themselves bonding over football with their previously uninterested daughters recently. Taylor Swift, pop star beloved by millions of teens and tweens, started dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce near the beginning of the NFL season, and as their relationship grew, so did Swifties' interest in football. The phenomenon has been dubbed the "Taylor Swift effect."

Is a singer dating a football player a silly reason to start watching football? Maybe. Has it been a boon for many a daddy-daughter relationships? Apparently so. And skincare company Cetaphil is highlighting one real-life "Taylor Swift effect" example with their tear-jerking Super Bowl ad.

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Education

A boy told his teacher she can't understand him because she's white. Her response is on point.

'Be the teacher America's children of color deserve, because we, the teachers, are responsible for instilling empathy and understanding in the hearts of all kids. We are responsible for the future of this country.'

Photo by John Pike. Used with permission.

Emily E. Smith is no ordinary teacher.



Fifth-grade teacher Emily E. Smith is not your ordinary teacher.

She founded The Hive Society — a classroom that's all about inspiring children to learn more about their world ... and themselves — by interacting with literature and current events. Students watch TED talks, read Rolling Stone, and analyze infographics. She even has a long-distance running club to encourage students to take care of their minds and bodies.

Smith is such an awesome teacher, in fact, that she recently received the 2015 Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing.

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Parenting

Mom causes debate after sharing the surprising 'gift' she gives for every kid's party

Sarah Clarke swears that her idea saves on "mental load." But not everyone thinks it's very considerate.

Representative image from Canva

Has minimalism gone too far?

Having kids means not only prepping and planning their own birthday party, but making sure you don’t show up empty-handed to the plethora of other kid’s parties.

In a now-viral Instagram post, UK-based mom Sarah Clarke explains her trick that she does for every kids party to “save on mental load.” Though Clarke swears by it, not everyone agrees.

“I get the same thing every time, no matter how old they are, no matter if they’re a boy or a girl,” Clarke said in the clip, clarifying that the gift is not a traditional present, but a gift certificate to a local coffee shop, where the kid can have a “hot chocolate or cake” with their parents.

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Pop Culture

LeVar Burton gives cheeky 'Reading Rainbow' segment for banned books

The segment, shown on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," featured banned titles like "Charlottes Web" and "Harriet the Spy."

Super Festivals/Wikipedia, Wikipedia

You've never seen a "Reading Rainbow" episode quite like this

“Reading Rainbow” might have had its last episode in 2006, but LeVar Burton hasn’t stopped being a book advocate.

The actor and beloved host has spoken out against the unprecedented levels of books banned in schools throughout the country—acting as executive producer do the 2023 documentary “The Right to Read,” and has partnered with the nonprofit MoveOn.org to create a limited-edition T-shirt that reads “LeVar Burton Says Read Banned Books.”

And recently on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Burton brought attention to the subject by resurrecting the popular kids show. Only this is unlike any “Reading Rainbow” segment you’ve seen before.

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Education

Lessons we should have learned from the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps

It's been more than 75 years since the last prisoners were freed from Auschwitz. The farther we get from that chapter, the more important it is to focus on the lessons it taught us, lest we ignore the signs of history repeating itself.

From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

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