Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cutting As Deep As You Desire - Why I Love Nip/Tuck

The Carver (to Sean): “Beauty is a curse upon the world” – Sean McNamara.

Slice, dice and all that stuff, plastic surgery has been something of a limited viewpoint for me. I may never look like a Hollywood star but getting under the knife even to alter some of my blemishes would never be a major desire of mine. I can’t even stand going to the dentist, never mind the notion of ever willingly altering a part of my body for no real reason.

That should also mean that when it came to watching a TV show, one about plastic surgeons wouldn’t exactly be up my street. I needed little to no persuading when it came to watching a programme about undertakers in Six Feet Under but something about Nip/Tuck I needed convincing.

I guess pairing it alongside with Angel’s fifth season upon its debut on Sky One in January 2004 was a good way of getting to stay with that station for an extra hour but even then the pilot episode had me mixed. I absolutely hated the first sex scene between Christian and Kimber and it’s partly because of their first time, I have been able to ship them as a couple. That and the fact that with Kimber, Christian really is at his worst.

Thankfully that was the only thing about the first ever episode that bugged me because the reasons for actually getting suckered into the show came with the great rapport between lead surgeons Sean McNamara and Christian Troy. Excellently played by both Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon, creator Ryan Murphy hasn’t been shy in mentioning that the show has a love story between two straight men. In the show’s fourth season, the writers teased the notion of perhaps Christian having sexual feelings for Sean, even going as far as having a dream sequence where the two nearly kissed.

Of course the double standard of Nip/Tuck is that plenty of straight women can make out with each other (Julia/Ava, Kimber/Kit, and Michelle/James) but the same thing can’t necessarily happen with two straight guys. Nip/Tuck is one of those shows where just about anything can happen and in the course of the four seasons that have aired so far (as well as the upcoming fifth and possibly final season), this show has had more outlandish cases that would give the likes of ER, Scrubs, House and Grey’s Anatomy an aneurism.

The first episode had a paedophile change his entire face but the second one dealt with twins who didn’t want to look like each other while an episode had a character called Kurt Dempsey asking the doctors to make his eyes look Oriental in an attempt to appeal to his bride’s parents while a vicious drug lord named Escobar Gallardo had women using their breasts as a safety place for drugs and Sean and Christian unwillingly complying with this.

The show’s second and third seasons almost upped the wackiness with surgery addict Mrs Grubman causing the boys some hell and even Kimber getting her own surgery in aid of her sex doll while a patient named Ben White wanted Christian to remove his foot. Heck in the fourth season episode “Blu Mondae” we had a pole dancer getting her breasts reduced for business and a woman who had a nipple bitten off when she tried to seduce her own dog in “Shari Noble”. Other shows might balk at this kind of a thing but Nip/Tuck seems to embrace these plots without a bother.

They might be ridiculous but both writers and actors have admitted some of their more ludicrous plots are based in reality. After all it was heavily published two years ago about a woman getting a face transplant before Nip/Tuck tackled the thorny issue in the episode “Hannah Tedesco”. The outcome in both real life and fiction were inevitably different but the show’s attempts of making viewers along with shocking and grossing audiences out is to be credited.

Under any other writer, this would be strictly a series where both violence, underlying layers of sexism and homophobia would be its default but there’s something about Ryan Murphy’s prose that shows there is some substance behind.
In terms of the gay stuff, this show does lack that.

Unlike the fantastic (and realistic) depiction of gay characters in programmes such as Six Feet Under or Brothers And Sisters, the only gay character on this show is Roma Maffia’s cute anaesthesiologist Liz Cruz who despite being one of the series’ most sympathetic and level headed character, she hasn’t been one of the show’s most fortunate in love.

In the first season she had a brief fling with transsexual Sophia but this was something out of mutual loneliness as opposed to love, something which Liz was only too happy to tell Sophia while in the fourth season, a chance encounter with a mysterious beauty in a gay bar with Christian lead to Liz losing a kidney and then there was Poppy, the kind of insecure control freak girlfriend who’ll put you through rigorous surgery due to their own hang ups rather than yours.

Whatever misfortunate Liz has experienced in love, at least she’s been aware enough to back out (dumping Poppy for instance) and she is far from the only character that’s suffered in love. In fact aside from the kidney debacle, it could be argued that she got off lightly.

Sean’s been married to Julia for nearly twenty years but cracks were there since the first episode and as soon as a paternity test revealed that oldest son Matt was in fact Christian’s, Sean and Julia’s marriage was over in the second season. Then a one night stand in Season Three had Julia pregnant and Sean only too happy to reunite with her until the opening episode of Season Four revealed that their unborn son had Ectrodactily and as soon as Connor was born both of them were at loggerheads over how to deal with their son’s disability.

Sean wanted to do surgery but Julia didn’t and a set of mutual flings with other people, both of them conceded their marriage was over for a second time. Watching Sean and Julia can be exhausting. There’s great chemistry between both Dylan Walsh and Joely Richardson that make them incredibly believable as a pair who love each other but the reality is that Sean and Julia are certainly better off with each other. This got proved in the third season when Julia had to depend on herself and went into business with Gina and Liz and had the De La Mer spa. It’s a pity that Season Four destroyed that story when you think about it.

Christian hasn’t had much fun either. For a guy who’ll bang anything (female) with a pulse, there are some relationships only a total masochist would enter into and Christian must be one of those. There’s Gina, the one night stand from hell who has him thinking that he’s gotten her pregnant until the baby is a different race and then there’s Kimber. My God, never have I been against a relationship as the one between these two. Their first sex scene was one of the least sexy scenes on TV and Christian’s assessment of Kimber’s physique so he could bag a patient was pretty sleazy. Plus Kimber is too needy.

She knows that Christian doesn’t love her and yet she always seems to allow him to treat her like dirt. Even during period where she tries to assert her own independence (and with Kimber, that’s either in the porn industry or embarking on Scientology).

A failed marriage attempt and a few feeble attempts to sabotage her relationship with Matt (which in of itself is another disaster area); you’d think the writers would throw Christian a bone and give him a reasonably happy relationship with Michelle. Getting rid of her older husband Burt should’ve helped but despite some actually amazing chemistry between McMahon and Sanaa Lathan, the writers made Michelle’s character too involved in the fourth season’s organ ring to really work out. Then again, their doom was written when their sexual encounter came from Christian blackmailing Michelle into sleeping with him. That should kill any affection Michelle may have had for Christian.

In terms of baddies, Seasons Two and Three concentrated on The Carver/Quentin Costa, a psycho with a birth defect who went around raping and mutilating models and even attacked Sean and Christian before getting his twisted sister Kit to help him fake his death. The Carver became something of a cult icon, though the reveal itself could’ve been handled much better.

Seasons One and Four on the other hand dealt with drug lord Escobar Gallardo. A nasty piece who when he wasn’t using girls for drug smuggling he was employing James and an unwilling Michelle to snatch people’s kidneys. As baddies go, Escobar was both nasty, effective and charismatic and his death at the hands of his crafty wife Galla ended the fourth season on a pretty awesome note.

With the series rejuvenating it’s format for Season Five with Sean and Christian taking their surgical skills from Miami to LA, it’ll be interesting to see how this series continues to deliver. This show may overindulge in the sex and violence but it’s undeniably addictive with characters that genuinely come as real as you and me. Beauty might be skin deep but don’t for a second think there isn’t something else going on underneath either.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Could not find a suitable section so I written here, how to become a moderator for your forum, that need for this?