In the second season of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, Olivia Baker files a negligence lawsuit against the Evergreen County School District, but the grieving mother should also press charges against the hairstylist who gave her that pixie cut. Like all important hair tropes, Olivia’s lopped-off locks are meant to signal her new, in-control emotional state as she seeks justice for Liberty High’s culpability in the death of her bullied daughter Hannah. Unfortunately, despite Kate Walsh’s heartbreaking performance, it’s hard to watch her without being distracted by that awful auburn fright wig. It looks like it was cut with a lawnmower — an especially blunt one — and even worse, it’s hiding Walsh’s own magnificent ’do.
Evidently, 13 Reasons Why producers were acutely aware of this hairy situation: As the first two episodes were being filmed, department head hairstylist Carla Farmer was brought in to expressly fix Olivia’s crazy coiffure.
Farmer — who’s known for her wig wrangling, as well as for attending to the tresses of Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Octavia Butler, and Renée Zellweger, among others — said the crime wasn’t the custom-made hairpieces, but what had been done to them. “If you’re not proficient in wigs, you think that you can cut one like you do hair, but you can’t,” she tells Vulture. “Things were done to those pieces that shouldn’t have been.”
Without the go-ahead from producers to buy a new hairpiece, Farmer had to fix Walsh’s wig by adding new hair to existing strands, then reshaping and styling them with more of a side part. For a better fit, she wrapped Walsh’s real hair rather than putting it in a ponytail as had been done previously, so the wig wouldn’t sit as high. Nevertheless, Farmer said she can still distinguish her work from her predecessor’s in those early episodes. (Hint: Inside the courtroom is Farmer’s handiwork; when Olivia is talking to reporters outside, it’s not.) To get to the bottom of this mane mystery, we combed through more of the details with Farmer.
When Farmer arrived on set, Walsh showed her pictures of the stellar looks that Olivia’s hair was supposed to emulate: Jennifer Lawrence’s layered cut and Kate Mara’s close-cropped style. “It was a challenge, but I tried to work with what I had to make that happen,” Farmer said. For flashback scenes, Walsh’s real hair was used with no attempt to match it to the shorter length she had last season.
While Farmer thought actor Miles Heizer’s wig could have been better, she said the producers were happy with the way he looked as Alex Standall. Like with Walsh’s wig, she added hair and reshaped Heizer’s hairpiece, noting that after she was done, the show’s editors thought he dyed his real hair. Still, Farmer said she and her staff “would make jokes that Alex and Olivia literally had the same hairstyle” — something with which the internet ultimately agreed. Heizer wore the wig for all but Alex’s flashback scenes and the season finale. For the latter, the 13RW producers wanted viewers to see Alex’s gunshot wound, so Heizer’s bleach-blond hair was dyed dark and a fake scar was added to the back of his head.
You know that longer-locked wig that Walsh wears in the finale? Farmer said she wanted to use it earlier in the season, but the producers didn’t want to change Olivia’s look so abruptly, given the story’s short time frame. The reason why this hairpiece looks so much better? Farmer’s secrets include using a razor rather than standard scissors for shearing, and directional rather than point-cutting.
“She was a little scared, of course,” Farmer said. “Because people can be brutal.” (Farmer knows of what she speaks: She worked on Felicity when Keri Russell chopped off her crowning glory, though she didn’t style Russell’s hair.) Nevertheless, she said that Walsh’s concern was less about the wig than about getting used to something different. “It’s not so much about the look as it is about the performance,” Farmer added, noting how Walsh went seamlessly from Girls Trip to 13 Reasons Why.