Friday, December 23, 2005

Gloriously Sick Bastards

I started watching Nip/Tuck last night.  I was floored.  I like it, but it's so shocking... the OR gore is one thing, but they go so excessively far beyond the edge that it takes a superhuman effort to stay with them.  They regularly cross the proverbial line, then take a shit and masturbate on the line for good measure.  I kinda resent that there's no deference to the audience when certain things happen (say, spewing liposuction fat directly from a stomach all over an operating room).  But I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.  That's evidence of how good a job they've done with the rest of the show.  It's in awful taste, it's a little too unflinching for my taste, and I would characterize it as moderately irresponsible.  But it's so original because it's so irresponsible.

What I keep coming back to is whether the graphic surgery stuff is really necessary.  At first I thought Hell No, but later I realized that it establishes something with the audience... yes, we're going there, and we'll go even further in a few minutes, and we don't care whether you come along or not, but we're onto something.  Nip/Tuck will go to any length to disturb you, but it's got an objective, and it can't complete that objective if you're not implicit in the proceedings.  There's a layer of trust between the viewer and the filmmaker, established by your willingness to watch a liposuction tube slip loose and spew human fat all over an operating room.  They know that if you'll watch that, you'll watch the rest of what they have in store for you.  And they need to know you're strong enough to take it.  It takes a strong stomach to watch a main character get tortured with unsolicited shots of botox to his penis; that's definitely a moment where the audience could have jumped ship if they weren't primed with all that surgery gore.

But anyway.  I liked the later episodes more than the pilot (stunning as it is) but based on the psychological torture I just described, that seems like a natural result.  I love the sick sense of humor that starts to come through in later episodes, like the huge deal being made about the late gerbil Frisky, or much of Dr. Troy's behavior during the Twins episode, including the way in which he cures his impotence.  And despite the almost neverending barrage of twists and turns, there's a level of faithfulness that runs underneath it.  It's not trying to be true, it's trying to lend an air of truth.  It's the reverse of Rescue Me, which I believe wants to have it both ways... true-life drama and over-the-top melodrama.

So if you can take it, start watching Nip/Tuck, because it's rewarding.  And it'll put hair on your chest.  Even if you're a woman.  (Especially... no, j/k.)

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