Every November, the Movember Foundation raises awareness for men’s health issues with their Movember campaign, a month devoted to mustaches. This year, HBO Now is getting in on the action with “Celebrate the ‘Stache: 22 Moustaches for Movember,” a curated collection of the finest upper lip looks in HBO history, from “Deadwood” to “Behind the Candelabra.”
Because 22 mustaches is a lot to look at, let us trim your choices. Here are 10 of HBO’s most notable mustaches, ranked. Judged on criteria of vibe, luster, aesthetic consistency, and style points, these rankings are less about visual beauty and more about which mustaches have mystically hypnotic effects.
10. Adam Sackler (Adam Driver), “Girls”
Vibe: Like a bristly chimney brush.
Luster: Given the effort Adam puts in his day-to-day life, we have to assume his facial hair comes in pretty naturally.
Aesthetic consistency: Adam’s facial hair crawls right up to the edge of creepy, which is a lot like Adam himself.
Style points: At his worst, Adam looks like an unemployed mime. Sure, it’s stylized, but to what end?
9. Nick Wasicsko (Oscar Isaacs), “Show Me a Hero”
Vibe: Somewhere between a hero and a zero, Wasicsko’s mustache is the source of his nascent power.
Luster: Akin to finely groomed mare.
Aesthetic consistency: Well, his mustache matches his eyebrows, that’s for sure.
Style points: Wasicsko’s facial hair is too cleanly neat to be of interest to anyone but him, but you just know he cares enough for the rest of us. Any amount of money places a mustache comb in Wasicsko’s breast pocket.
8. Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen), “Game of Thrones”
Vibe: Baelish definitely strokes his facial hair while he skulks around in shadows, thinking bad guy thoughts.
Luster: With a ratlike and geometric look, Baelish’s facial hair seems more carefully curated than naturally divined.
Aesthetic consistency: Baelish’s cleanly shorn hair slots into a long canon of evil dudes who pay remarkable attention to their personal appearance.
Style points: If you didn’t already know that Baelish is up to no good, there it is, disguised among a smattering of scruff, mocking us: the soul patch. The soul patch is ironically godless decor, a style choice more fitting for Satan than man.
7. Dom Basaluzzo (Murray Bartlett), “Looking”
Vibe: Like a teddy bear hugging a warm glass of milk, but prim.
Luster: Sometimes it seems like Dom is looking out for everybody but Dom, but his mustache, a well-nurtured natural gift, is the clear exception.
Aesthetic consistency: As the bastion of a slightly older generation of San Francisco gay men, Dom’s porn ‘stache fittingly evokes the 70’s.
Style points: Dom pairs his ’70s mustache with a uniform of brightly colored ’90s ware, giving off an anachronistic nostalgia for a kinder age.
6. Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), “True Detective”
Vibe: Ironically, the mustache of out-of-work detective Rust Cohle is what screams serial killer in “True Detective'”s interrogation scenes.
Luster: Cohle’s facial hair is so half-heartedly straw-like that it looks like a child filled in a Fu Manchu mustache stencil with a colored pencil.
Aesthetic consistency: The look is actually an essential choice for 2012 Cohle, a bedraggled, broken and just plain dirty version of his clean-shaven 1995 self.
Style points: This mustache is the effort-equivalent of “brushing your teeth” by swallowing a Tic Tac.
5. Bob Black (Scott Bakula), “Behind the Candelabra”
Vibe: Black’s mustache seems inviting but untamed, like the first friend who convinced you to break curfew and go to a house party.
Luster: Shagadelic, baby.
Aesthetic consistency: It’s the lone lava lamp in a sea of sequins.
Style points: If you’re hanging out with Liberace and company and your visual flare peaks at a naturalistic handlebar mustache, why did even you RSVP to the party?
4. Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), “Deadwood”
Vibe: Swearengen’s ‘stache makes him look like the Godfather of the Wild West — as if you could find him on this, the day of his daughter’s wedding, slowly stroking an opossum.
Luster: The show’s title is particularly apropos here, as Swearengen’s thatchy facial hair situation resembles the building blocks of a very sturdy fire.
Aesthetic consistency: It’s textbook frontier justice imposed on a lawless land.
Style points: To follow “Deadwood’s” lead and get a little less civilized, I don’t give a damn about the mustache, not with that scourge manifest destiny-ing its way up toward his bottom lip. The soul patch strikes again.
3. Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh), “Veep”
Vibe: Just so sad, like McClintock is in costume as a frown.
Luster: You know when you’re using a marker and the ink is faint because it is running low, and so you shake the marker really hard, but you actually shook it too hard, so then the ink comes out all globby and weird? McClintock’s mustache is like that.
Aesthetic consistency: In a backwards way, McClintock’s facial hair totally fits in with present politics, as it’s definitely the kind of mustache you could grab a beer with.
Style points: Nope. Despite being curiously mesmerizing, McClintock’s look seems less intentional and more like a pale caterpillar was crawling across his face when it suddenly lost its will to live and died.
2. Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), “Boardwalk Empire”
Vibe: “V for Vendetta” by way of “Newsies.”
Luster: There’s little mirth in making fun of a disfigured war veteran, even if his second act is as a gangster’s go-to hit man. Harrow’s facial hair is half-standard ‘satche of his own creation, half-matching tin mask.
Aesthetic consistency: There’s a sculptural sleekness to Harrow’s look that is fitting for Atlantic City’s hard-shelled gloss.
Style points: If necessity is the mother of invention, then Harrow’s mustache, the result of devastating injuries in the first World War, is a real son of a gun.
1. Charlotte York (Kristin Davis), “Sex and the City”
Vibe: Is it a cheat to give top honors to a woman wearing a fake mustache? Sure. The argument for doing so: Just try to look away. While it’s dumb that Charlotte needs masculine trappings to feel so large and in charge, her mustachioed confidence is absolutely irresistible.
Luster: It’s basically a furry strip of Velcro, but that kind of pedantic detail can’t lessen the effect.
Aesthetic consistency: Charlotte’s mustache is about as far from her traditionally feminine tastes as you can get, and yet it just feels so right.
Style points: Icon status. After watching this episode, I couldn’t help but wonder, are mustaches the new designer drug?
Check out the full “Celebrate the ‘Stache” playlist on HBO Now and HBO Go.