Remember those chilling yet hilarious images of mannequins being used in restaurants to fill space? Television just kicked the craziness up a notch: As various productions resume, mannequins are now being used for crowd shots and even, in at least one case, sex scenes.
The CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful was one of the first TV productions to resume filming amid the pandemic—and as executive producer Bradley Bell recently told The New York Times, inanimate dummies quickly became indispensable.
“One of the first ideas we had was to bring in mannequins for the intimate scenes and hospital scenes, and it’s working quite well,” Bell said. “We’re shooting it from a great distance or in a way you can’t see the form is inanimate.”
Is anyone else getting flashbacks to Will Smith chatting up mannequins in I Am Legend yet? No? Just me?
Bell granted that the new innovation has been a trip for his cast—but said ultimately things are going swimmingly: “We’ve had a lot of strange looks and questions like, ‘Do you really want to do this?’ But everyone is game. They are getting their first latex kiss.”
Riverdale, meanwhile, plans to use mannequins for crowd shots during the show’s graduation scene—but for the moment, they’re not on the table for love scenes. In fact, the typically steamy teen drama might be tamer than usual when it returns to the CW.
“There’s a weird retro 1950s vibe to Riverdale,” showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told the Times. “One of the things we sometimes do is suggest sex through coded language—I think we’ll almost lean into that melodrama and suggestive behavior.”
Sera Gamble, who serves as show-runner for Netflix’s stalker drama You, said that she and her team have been wracking their brains to remember every production trick they’ve ever used to make up for pandemic-related restrictions.
“Smoke and mirrors are basically the entire job description of making cinematic entertainment,” Gamble said. “Everything requires fakery.” So as our favorite TV series come back to screen, at least we’ll all have a fun new game to play: Spot the Dummy.