If you have been fortunate enough to watch Joan of Arcadia on CBS you will be familiar with the character of Grace Polk, (Becky Wahlstrom) the brainy, wisecracking, high school student who is Joan's Advanced Placement Chemistry (AP Chem) partner, sometime friend and overall Joan plot integrator.
Becky Wahlstrom, who has achieved some notoriety in her 2003 performance with Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) as an Enterprise (Star Trek) Vissians cogenitor sex-slave character, does an incredibly fabulous job with the Grace Polk character.
Ironically the Vissian cogenitor role was controversial amongst the rank and file Enterprise watches just as the role of Polk is controversial amongst her high school classmates in Arcadia. Wahlstrom has also appeared on two episodes of the WB's Charmed and in a variety of other acting works.
Not only is Wahlstrom's Grace Polk character a fascinating and poignant supporting character for Tamblyn's Joan, the actress that portrays Polk does a superb acting job.
In keeping perfectly with the somewhat mysterious, very independent, and outspoken Polk character, Wahlstrom affects a blunt no-nonsense, no frills, short stick straight bob that she wears parted to one side and pushed haphazardly behind her ears. It screams get-out-of-my-face rebelliousness.
Although her hair is a medium to dark blonde hue, it appears to definitely be of the accidental dishwater variety. It certainly appears that the Polk character never gives a second thought to highlights, flat irons, hot rollers or any type of wax, gel or styling products.
If you actually knew a Grace Polk type of person in real life, you would expect them to have the hairstyle the the TV Polk wears.
The use of a short, behind the ears bob perfectly honors her belligerent in-your-face disregard for obvious teen peer pressures to have edgy or pretty tresses. For Polk to have any other type of style, color or length, would undermine her image and ultimate message.
In essence Wahlstrom is brilliantly utilizing a bland, I don't-give-a-damn, bob hairstyle as the perfect prop to telegraph her character's true personality and inner motivations onscreen.
In a recent episode (The Uncertainty Principle) through a bizarre coincidence of sorts Grace goes to the high school's dressy Winter Formal with Joan's brother, science nerd, Luke Girardi played by Michael Welch. Luke is definitely and obviouslly smitten by the brainy Grace.
He thinks she looks hot, in spite of her everyday rebellious bob style. Which sends a message about the motivation of teen guys and what will attract them to a specific girl.
Imagine the shock of Luke and everyone else when the tomboyish Polk shows up at the formal dance completely transformed from tomboy to pretty in pink.
Gone was the bland tomboyish bob. In its place was a super shiny glammed up coif that hinted at new buttery blonde highlights. It looked like Grace traded in her bland bob for a sizzling new version.
Although I wouldn't go so far as to say that Wahlstrom's Polk affected an ultra blonde bombshell look, her character definitely demonstrated a new pizazz and sauciness that would be appropriate for her character's development.
The beauty of the entire subplot was the fact that the writers of the show, with apparent help from the set hairstylists, were able
to demonstrate a new transformation in Grace and Luke's relationship with a simple change in Grace's hairstyle appearance. It was a powerful message and underlined how hair nd its style, length and color, can say a thousand words to people everywhere.
The series stylists also added stronger change messages with her dress and facial expressions. Of course it didn't hurt that Grace aggressively grabbed Luke for a big kiss to prove a point about her sexuality.
Did she prove her point? Yes, and admirably, I might add.
The relatively simple act of adding fullness, texture, movement and glossy shine to the character of Grace Polk made a significant statement about the development of her character and the new directions she may move into with Luke, her potential love interest.
Hair is definitely a powerful symbol and regardless of whether it is worn as a boring bland bob or transformed into glitz and glam, it can instantly change the tone of any situation.