Television

Nip/Tuck

Todd R. Ramlow

This is classic Nip/Tuck, a moment of complication, perhaps even "truth," amongst the regular soap operatics. It's one of the rewards for sitting through much of the rest of the show.

Nip/Tuck

Airtime: Tuesdays, 10pm ET
Cast: Dylan Walsh, Julian McMahon, John Hensley, Joely Richardson, Roma Maffia, Portia de Rossi, Rosie O'Donnell, Oliver Platt, John Schneider, Maggie Siff
Subtitle: Season Five: Return
Network: FX
US release date: 2008-01-15
Website
Trailer
Amazon

After being nearly blown up by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem, Rachel Ben Natan (Maggie Siff) made her way the U.S. to work as a burn trauma counselor and physical therapist. Here she met Matt (John Hensley), who had also been nearly blown up -- cooking kitchen meth after his wife dumped him and returned to her career in porn.

It's typical Nip/Tuck melodrama, and indeed, the histrionics are part of the show's ongoing appeal. What was less typical in Season Five's 15 January return after the winter hiatus was the treatment of the Rachel Ben Natan storyline. Previously, she was all steely reserve and willing subjection to God's will (much like her Palestinian attacker, though Nip/Tuck couldn't quite make that acknowledgement). After consulting with Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) about some chronic pain in her traumatized face, Rachel learned that what she had been told were pieces of metal and concrete shrapnel are actually bits of the teeth, bones, and flesh of her attacker, which now riddle her body.

Rachel, not surprisingly, freaked out, experiencing these bits of the bomber as a further violation of her body, and demanded that Sean remove them all. Her crisis of consciousness and identity (did the bits inside of her make her complicit with the drives and violence of her assailant?) was taken up by Sean as well, who was struggling with his own questions of fidelity and betrayal, as Christian (Julian McMahon) and Julia (Joely Richardson) were finally shacked up together. And as Rachel felt her questions physically (pain, sleeplessness), Sean was haunted by his imagining of the suicide bomber (Dylan Ramsey), who taunted Sean with jeremiads about faith, divine reward, and the pleasures of martyrdom.

A bit over the top to be sure, but what keeps the story from slipping into the realm of jingoism and schlock is Rachel's realization that "The trick is to forgive the unforgivable." Only by rejecting demands for justice and retribution will she find peace. This is classic Nip/Tuck, a moment of complication, perhaps even "truth," amongst the regular soap operatics. As usual, this time it's one of the rewards for sitting through much of the rest of the show.

The other reason to return to Nip/Tuck, and Season Five is no exception, are the cameos and stunt casting. This season has seen the introduction of Bradley Cooper as Aiden Stone, a self-obsessed Hollywood hedonist, and Oliver Platt as screaming closet-queen TV producer Freddy Prune. The two have given the show some much needed levity so far this season. So have Rosie O'Donnell and John Schneider. O'Donnell returns as Dawn Budge, white-trash lotto bijillionaire and paramour to Freddy Prune. In last week's episode, Dawn was afraid that her boyfriend was going to come out of the closet after he and Aiden were invited to ride in the West Hollywood gay pride parade. She followed Freddy to the parade, experienced a moment of panic, and tried to run down the street after him, only to be run over by a dyke-on-a-bike. The image of Rosie O'Donnell playing a frustrated and possibly homophobic girlfriend mowed down by a butchie on a motorcycle was absolute gold.

Schneider, coming off his successful turn at uber-good guy Jonathan Kent on Smallville, has joined Nip/Tuck as Ram Peters, Kimber's once and again porn producer and husband. Ram is all slick smarm and sexual opportunism, and Schneider steals every scene he's in. Who would have thought Bo Duke would make such a comeback?

The central characters and storylines on Nip/Tuck haven't been so compelling. Season Five's relocation of McNamara/Troy to L.A. had the potential to skewer U.S. celebrity obsessions and hyper-body-fascism even more elaborately than the show has previously. The season's second episode, "Joyce and Sharon Monroe," detailed the lengths two Marilyn impersonators go to in order to reshape their bodies and cash in on an American icon. In "Chaz Darling," Chaz (Jai Rogriquez) told the anorexic Eden (AnnaLynne McCord), Julia's lesbian lover and Olivia's (Portia de Rossi) daughter, that "Minus-2 is the new size zero."

Interrupting such moments of pointed commentary are the troubled lives and lovers of Sean, Christian, Julia, and Matt -- plots that are increasingly tedious. It's hard to care that Sean feels betrayed that Julia and Christian are finally together, when he's been whining about this possibility for several seasons already, or that Matt continues to be a total doormat, letting any woman who shows the slightest interest in his puppy dog eyes dominate him. Sean in particular has recently appeared even more mopey and self-pitying than he has always been. Then again, it supports the show's proposal that L.A. is symbolic of U.S. consumer culture: it makes self-obsessed neurotics of us all.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.