My favorite guilty pleasure is back. The Jan. 6 premiere was sponsored by Smirnoff, and, if you want to watch this sexy series, you should probably be old enough to drink Smirnoff.
Even though the show has been off the air, pushed around because of the cancellations of other shows, Nip/Tuck picks up as Season Five: Part Two.
In Season Five: Part One, the two Miami plastic surgeons, Dr. Sean McNamara and Dr. Christian Troy, decided to move their private practice to Los Angeles. In order to build prestige and name recognition, Sean decided to work as a consultant and actor on a "Grey's Anatomy"-type TV show. He was so good that Sean became an instant star.
Christian tried to be a star in Hollywood as well but nothing he did worked. He immediately became jealous and angry. He also felt a little betrayed by Sean. His emotions would play out vicariously through the exploits of a psychotic, faux-talent agent who tried to kill Sean in the final scenes of the season.
At the opening of Season Five: Part Two, that psychotic agent sneaks into the offices of McNamara/Troy, pretending to be a recovering facelift patient. She comes up from behind Sean and stabs him multiple times, ironically while the song "Back Stabbers" by The O'Jays hums on the soundtrack. It leads into Mark Ronson's "Stop Me." As it stands, this show has incorporated the best soundtrack that I've heard in a long while.
At first glance, the show seems like it's a satire, a send-up of our superficial, image-obsessed culture, and all the craziness that it entails, the things people will say and do in order to be or else be perceived as beautiful, and how pursuing it is more than just a fool's errand. It's dysfunctional and destructive.
Each episode is named after the patient who gets introduced in the cold open of the show after the insidious question, "Tell me what you don't like about yourself." Going by that, this episode should have been titled, "Liz Cruz II." It's Liz, the practice's anesthesiologist, who becomes McNamara/Troy's latest patient again. This time, Liz wants a breast reduction.
Sean and Christian usually tag team during their surgeries, but Sean feels he's not ready to operate, as he's still recovering physically and emotionally from the stabbing. Those, who can't, teach. So, Sean becomes a teacher at a school or California hospital that has a plastic surgery residency.
Meanwhile, Christian preps Liz for her surgery when he notices a lump on her breast. They go to an oncologist to see if she has breast cancer. Just to ease her mind, Christian also gets a male equivalent of a mammogram.
Since the show began, it has been and continues to be a challenging of preconceived notions of sexuality and gender. At first, what began as an experiment in pushing the envelope has now developed into a full-blown assault.
From orgies to anal sex, this show has dared to show it all, in more ways and in more positions than even the kama sutra could imagine.
The producers of the show have moved away from the shock value, the prurient interests, or mere titillation that these graphic sex or surgery scenes bring. They've decided that the show is more than just showing skin. It's about getting at what's beneath the skin and possibly upending the prejudices we have about human physical connection and human self-identity, which people seem to tie so desperately to what their skin looks like or what is or what isn't dangling between their legs.
Yes, people chase after youth and beauty. Sean says, "We don't have a time machine but we do have this," as he holds up his scalpel. But, the show is about poking at the value of that. This show probably probes those values, as it deals with related issues of people having to face aging and death, more astutely than any fictional show on TV right now.
I love how the show is not afraid to give us in one breath a "sympathy screw" and in the next the mutilated scars that line the bodies that put so much weight on being beautiful. It's potent stuff.
Adhir Kalyan (Aliens in America) who plays Dr. Raj, an Indian or perhaps Pakistani Doogie Howser, is a cocky, 17-year-old, Harvard grad who looks like he's going to be an integral part in this season, shake things up and challenge our two leading doctors.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated TV-MA for language, sexuality and violence
Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX