All of a sudden, when it seemed reality TV had no more frontiers to conquer, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery has become a real ratings winner. It’s been boosting ratings for several years now at ABC, with “Extreme Makeover.” And now there’s the flashier, some would say sexier, “Dr. 90210.”
And it’s not just reality TV now. The craze for plastic-surgery entertainment has now spilled over into the fiction genre, too, with shows such as “Nip Tuck.”
But how closely do these shows really represent the world of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?
“Nip Tuck” is a cable show set in the hip culture of South Beach, Miami. In those parts, looking good is almost as important as good food and plenty of water–at least, that’s how the show leaves you feeling. The show resolves around plastic surgeons Sean McNamaara and Christian Troy. Christian’s character is particularly interesting, since he leads viewers to believe that all it takes is a romp in the bed with him to get a woman to become a new client.
I said it’s interesting–not accurate. But hey, this is TV, where entertainment is the name of the game.
And even on so-called “reality” shows like Dr. 90210, the show is more about the entertainment, sexy ingredients than a true reflection of the world of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. The star doctor on the show is Dr. Will Kirby. This is not his first foray into reality television. He started off on the second season of CBS’s “Big Brother,” winning $500,000 by conning other contestants in very smooth ways. He returned to the show for the seventh season, for an “All Star” season, again making the female contestants swoon.
It’s that playboy image that Dr. Kirby presents on Dr. 90210. And make no mistake about it: This sexy image that he conveys is precisely what the show is about. The true details of plastic surgery are mere trappings (You can tell this on many episodes as he consults his female patients with his shirt halfway unbuttoned–something most doctors would find terribly unprofessional). He flirts with his patients and is often seen wining and dining ladies out on the town.
So what are my opinions of TV’s plastic-surgery shows? I suppose there is some genuine entertainment for those with prurient interests. But don’t call it medicine.