Nip/Tuck – Season Six
Anyone who has watched the first five seasons of Ryan Murphy’s little-medical-drama-that-could knows the delightful pleasure of a show that will do anything as long as it’s entertaining. Nip/Tuck has a flair for the comical, over-the-top, and cringe-inducing. Season six, the final nineteen episodes, hopes to wrap up the story of the plastic surgery practice, friendship, and personal lives of one family man and one playboy. I give them a good prognosis, because although the show can be depressing, controversial, and downright disgusting, it is nothing if not upbeat as it relentlessly pounds away at our sense of decency with well-written, pithy dialogue, and pretzel-plot twists.
In case you haven’t been watching, Nip/Tuck centers on the lives two partnered plastic surgeons: failing father Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and likeable lothario Christian Troy (Julian McMahon). We have followed Sean through the dissolution of his marriage, the crazy schemes and genetic flaws of his children, and his own sometimes tenuous grip on reality. We have followed Christian through hundreds of women, several surgeries, an adoption, and, as of last season, marriage and cancer. At the end of last season, Sean had been dating a new anesthesiologist, Teddy (then played by Katee Sackhoff, this season played by Rose McGowan), and Christian, who, under threat of stage 4 breast cancer married his ex-lesbian pal Liz Cruz (Roma Maffia), found out that his charts had been switched with someone else’s and was going to live.
The new season opens up several months later. Sean’s relationship with Teddy has increased greatly in intimacy, and he intends to ask her to marry him. However, Teddy may not be into Sean just for his personality; in the season five finale we discover she used to work for another plastic surgeon under a different name until she killed him, and now she has Sean and his healthy life insurance policy in her sites. Sean’s children are starting to act up again as well. Annie (Kelsey Batelaan) comes back and actually gets some lines this season. Matt (John Hensley), who has worn every stereotypical personality that Ryan Murphy could fit him in, becomes—wait for it—a mime! Not just any mime, but a convenience-store-robbing mime.
Christian, on the other hand, has his own problems. His cancer in remission, he has reneged on his marriage to Liz, much to her chagrin, and hell hath no chagrin like woman scorned. Liz is hell-bent on ruining Christian, taking everything from him she can, including the brand new yacht he just bought. So far there are no signs of Julia (Joely Richardson), but she’ll come back before the season’s over. The practice itself is in financial ruin, the show’s commentary on our national economic crisis. So, when Christian and Sean see the success that fellow surgeon Dr. Mike Hamoui (Mario Lopez) is having with vaginal reconstructions, they decide to bring him onto the team. The chemistry between Lopez and McMahon is perfect and often hilarious.
The show suffers from the same problems that it has always suffered from. Due to its insistence on edginess and shock, it can tend to forget to tie loose ends or it can let some characters just fall by the wayside, no matter how fascinating they may have been. For instance, Eden Lord (the beautiful AnnaLynne McCord), who shot Julia McNamara in the face last season, has seemed to have fallen off the face of the planet. Sure, she moved in with her mother in New York, but that just seems to be a cheap way to get rid of a character.
However, everything else that’s good about the show is back and in full force. The dialogue is top-notch, the evolved personal relationships carry the baggage of all that has preceded them, and the episodic characters are more compelling than ever; so far this season, there’s been a transvestite who wanted a synthetic face, a Satan-worshipping teen, and a woman who uses her large breasts as weapons.
If you haven’t seen Nip/Tuck before, you might be confused jumping in now, but don’t worry, that doesn’t mean the show isn’t watchable. Nearly every episode is mesmerizing in its own right. However, you should take the time to watch the previous seasons. Seeing how such a strange and popular show got from where it started to where it is now is a journey that never fails to entertain, titillate, or touch. This isn’t a show that’s going to bleed out in its last season; it’s going to grab some defibrillators, put them on its chest, and shout “clear!”