FX underscored its cable powerhouse status when it launched Nip/Tuck featuring two plastic surgeons at the top of their game in steamy Miami. The two doctors balance life as talented surgeons and are surrounded by people who want plastic surgery to "make over" their life. It got serious attention for gutsy, sexy drama that pushed its presentation so hard it about split the seams of conventional television drama, doing so with taste, wit, and dark comedic turns.
This series was groundbreaking in its content and seemed to be a precursor for other shows (Californication, Weeds, Dexter, Damages, Saving Grace) by putting more emphasis on adult-oriented content with intertwined storylines that rival those of daytime television but taken to an entirely different level.
Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon), are the key figures who are colleagues, friends, even brothers but they also bicker like an uneasily married couple. From episode one, Sean was the anal-retentive, perfectionist doc and husband while Christian was the ultimate bad boy because he felt unloved by any and all, which he hid quite well. Joely Richardson is Sean's wife Julia who was a med student with them, and while attracted to both men, wound up marrying Sean and quit school once she became pregnant. Eventually the marriage falls apart and Julia finds herself in a relationship with Olivia yet is still attracted to Christian. I couldn't figure out what her orientation was other than confused.
Roma Maffia plays Liz, the gay, in-house anesthesiologist who is part-time referee and voice of common sense. Her orientation becomes interesting when Christian finds out he has cancer. From the baring of souls between Liz and Christian, they wind up getting married but that relationship dissolves fairly quickly. John Hensley is Matt McNamera, Julia and Sean's son developing into manhood whose mishaps have end up with him on meth, married, and using the cover as a mime to steal. Kelly Carlson has a recurring role as Kimber, a model seeking to freshen her look. She morphs into a porn star, sex-toy entrepreneur, and girlfriend to both Christian and Sean. This series requires a score card to keep track of the regulars and how their personal and professional lives become intertwined. Guests stars include Oliver Platt, Rosie O'Donnell, Sharon Gless, AnnaLynne McCord, and many others who made this a "must see" series.
Each season some storylines ended with cliff-hangers and others with resolution. The audience numbers started dwindling simply because hearing the doctors ask patients "tell us what it is you don't like about yourself" gets old. Eventually, the doctors move the practice to Los Angeles, the playground of rich, famous, and plastic-surgery hungry.
As this series comes to a close and goes even darker than previous episodes and seasons, the show's inconsistent flow underscores the various characters de-evolution as the raw nature of each is revealed. With no surgery turned away, Sean and Christian compromise whatever integrity they had and in turn so did the writers by not giving either of the main characters any backbone.
The relationship between Sean and Christian becomes a score-keeping rivalry mixed with a bromance. They don't learn anything from their relationships gone sour with women, children, colleagues, and even patients. While watching these episodes, I was disturbed that they did not see until too late that they starting to become "fun house mirror" reflections of each other: distorted, twisted, bloated by disturbing behavior. I found this season left a bad taste in my mouth except for the justice meted out and resolution attained between Julia and her mother (played by real-life mother, Vanessa Redgrave). This was probably my favorite thing in the entire series. Nothing else floated my boat.
By this season, the series has lost its patina and not aged well. Too bad that the writers did not get a plastic surgeon to work on the scripts to see about doing a facelift for the show finale. I would suggest that unless you are a die-hard Nip/Tuck fan, rent this series and don't spend the money on this.
There is one special feature: Tell Me What You Don't Like About Yourself – The Psychology Behind Plastic Surgery