Last night, the FX original series Nip/Tuck premiered its fourth season. Much like individuals after they have plastic surgery performed by Drs. McNamara & Troy, everything was tight, high gloss, and looked great. Of course, like the vast majority of those individuals as well, a beautiful surface sometimes is no more than that; there isn’t always anything of substance underneath.
In Nip/Tuck’s case, however, I just don’t know that it makes any difference at this point. The show is fun, moderately witty, and completely engaging. You are compelled to watch just to see what will happen next. And, I mean just that — just because you know what will happen (and you often do), you want to actually see it happen (and you often do).
In this premiere, for example, it was clear that, at some point, Christian Troy (played perfectly by Julian McMahon) was going to bed his psychiatrist (played by Brooke Shields). Somehow, the show's producers still make the predictable great, disgusting, and absolutely compelling when it does happen. Christian has a sickness — that much is clear — and you unquestionably feel bad for him, but you still like to see him slip further into the muck. Not because you don’t like him, but just because it’s incredible to watch.
The show is a guilty pleasure, and is certainly meant as such. It satisfies a base desire to watch the beautiful and rich get, for lack of a better word, screwed — literally, psychologically, and metaphorically.
It is unquestionably an adult-oriented show, and not one that could be easily transported to a broadcast network. Virtually all the topics tackled on the show are of an adult nature, from Christian’s sexual exploits to the emotional turmoil between Sean McNamara (the reliable Dylan Walsh) and his wife, Julia (ably played by Joely Richardson) to the exact changes the doctors’ clients want and why.
The biggest problem with last night is that, in comparison to what is going on in Christian’s life, Sean’s seems positively dull. There are dramatic elements to it and what could make for a very interesting storyline (the impending birth of Sean and Julia’s son, whom he just learned will have a physical handicap), but seeing it juxtaposed with Christian’s life leaves it wanting. It’s a far more dark, far more serious storyline than Christian’s, and as such it almost feels like the two belong to different shows.
One major concern for the future of the show is that while the creators have new specific plots for Christian and Sean from the first episode to now, the macro pieces have not changed. Christian is still having problems having a serious adult relationship and is using sex to keep himself from having one, and Sean is still not seeing eye-to-eye with his wife. There has been very little development in the characters. It’s still fun, and it’s still interesting, but I question for how much longer it will be before people just get tired of it.
It is definitely a beautiful surface – hopefully, one day, it’ll be more than just skin deep.