Today's Cuppa: 10 Things to Remember While Watching TV

Today's cuppa: fast-food coffee

Martha-Plimpton-Garret-Dillahunt-Lucas-Neff-Shannon-Woodward.jpgThe other day, I was sitting on the set of Fox's "Raising Hope" -- which returns for a new season on Tuesday, Sept. 20 -- watching lovely young Shannon Woodward having layer after layer of makeup applied beneath her eyes. I couldn't imagine she needed that much makeup under her eyes or anywhere else, but as the makeup artist reminded me, "HD sees everything."

Life is a bit like HD, only it's HD in 3D, and inevitably, we all come up a bit wanting. And that can be a little hard on the ego.

So, the next time TV is making you feel inadequate, remember these 10 very important things:

1: Actors, male and female, are trailed around all day long by hairstylists and makeup artists. We would all look 500 percent better if someone patted down our flyaway hairs and touched up our under-eye circles every few minutes. I know I would. The advent of HD (or, as I like to call it, the equivalent of real life) has required raising makeup techniques to feature-film level, including airbrushing, to keep people looking better than real life.

2: Actresses -- and yes, even actors -- have their hair professionally colored, cut and styled, sometimes daily. TV is all about the hair, and if you saw the amount of product I saw put on the head of an actress one rainy day, you wouldn't wonder why her long tresses were smooth and shiny. They were effectively ironed, glued and lacquered.

3: Actors, male and female, have their clothes tailored to fit them if not made especially for them. Since multiples of clothing articles are needed for shooting, a lot of the wardrobe is handmade. Handmade. By professionals, not Target, Walmart, Kmart or even Forever 21. And when in doubt, there's double-stick tape.

4. After rehearsal on a scene, the actors - a k a "first team" -- step out, and "second team" comes in. This consists of people about the same height, build and coloring as the actors. Their job is to sit or stand where the actors will be until the lighting for the scene is mapped out. This can take a while -- and every actor is grateful for that. I was on a set once where the actress had her lips plumped, and the lighting was giving her a shadow that looked like a mustache. They fixed that.

5: This particular scene for "Raising Hope" was being shot in the blazing sun. But, as hardly anybody looks good in the blazing sun -- especially when it's hotter'n blazes as well -- there was a translucent canopy being held over the performers, its edges and corners camouflaged with vines and leaves. Yes, it looked very silly, but it softened the light and made it more flattering for all. Outdoors, various sorts of shades and diffusers are commonly used to take Raising-Hope-Shannon-Woodward.jpg off the harsh edges of daylight. You and I are on our own.

6: And when that doesn't work, you can always fix it in post. Filters, special effects and so on.

7: If you're watching "Dancing With the Stars" and wondering how those dancers look so perfectly perfect all over in skimpy costumes, it's more than just a good spray tan. There's also such a thing as full-body makeup.

8: Yes, all of this is done for many "reality" stars as well.

9: The prettification goes more than skin-deep. People's co-workers are their friends and substitute families in workplace comedies and workplace dramas because they're WORKPLACE comedies and dramas. In the actual working world, your results may vary.

10: Some actors look just the same as they do on TV. Some look much worse. Some actually look better. Some look smaller; some look taller. And there's really no predicting whom will be which until you actually see them in person.

For the record, Shannon Woodward looks equally cute either way. And that goes double for the twin baby girls on the show, who are three times as cute as anybody has a right to be.