“Make me… beautiful. Perfect soul. Perfect mind. Perfect face. A perfect… lie.”

Nip/Tuck is one of those shows that I started watching then lost track of after season two. Season five came out on DVD and despite having not watched the show in a while, it was as if I hadn’t missed an episode. The season has the feel of being a jump on season and the show takes advantage of the opportunity to reinvent itself.

It retains its over-the-top sensibilities. Our two stalwart plastic surgeons, the brains, Dr. Sean McNamara, and the body, Dr. Christian Troy, have relocated to Hollywood and have experienced a bit of a role-reversal. Sean gets some play, landing on a television show that mirrors—more ridiculously over-the-top than—Nip/Tuck while stealing Christian’s spotlight, the spotlight Christian assumes he deserves. In one move, the show gets to skewer reality television and Hollywood’s obsession with deeply superficial beauty.

“Where did this idea come from?” –Sean

We put on masks, masks that become part of us, ones we wear in order to interact with others and the world. Before too long, we become trapped by these false ideas of ourselves. These false selves, these lies of who we are and how we see ourselves, start developing when we’re young. How our families shape us, how we let our friends define us, the fronts we put up in order to appeal to potential mates. We may derive our self-worth from what we do, we’re of value because of how we behave or what we have. Or how we look. We have so lost sight of true beauty that the idea becomes twisted up so that one patient of McNamara/Troy can remark, “Beauty is an Olympic ideal.”

“Tell me what you don’t like about yourself.” –Sean/Christian

Each person walks through the doors of their clinic searching for something or trying to bring themselves back to life. They want to become real, find happiness, like themselves, find something to take away the pain, look for perfection, or search for something to make them feel complete. They want to be whole.

“We all make mistakes, right? We all just try to do better, be better people, overcome our weaknesses.” –Sean

One of the things that I wrestled with for a long time, even without realizing that this was crippling my spiritual walk, was the idea of perfection. The Bible seems to not only demand perfection, but it seems to imply that perfection is attainable now. Then someone pointed out to me that I had a screwed up view of “perfection.” When we read the word “perfection” through our modern mindset, we see the Greek ideal of perfection. We can’t attain that. Yet for most of my spiritual life, I was tormented by the guilt of failure because I couldn’t reach this goal of perfection. My life was littered with seemingly endless failures. But when you read perfection more through the eyes of the original audience, you find the Hebrew idea of wholeness. Being complete is something that we can attain.

“I feel like I’m being authentic for the first time in my life.” –Julia

The rest of the cast of characters are still floating around, little changed. Julia, the third figure in the Sean/Troy/Julia trinity is now gay(ish). Perennial hanger on Kimber goes from meth head back to her porn days. Sean’s son, Matt, continues his disastrous relational streak. Nip/Tuck continues to ride high on our cultural misogyny and sense of self-hate, taking a scalpel to the rotting underbelly of our unhealthy fascination with false ideas of beauty. It’s both uncomfortable and ridiculous. Just like the old days.