Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nip/Tuck: Gene Shelly (5.16)

Liz's sexuality has always defined her. Okay, maybe that's a little unfair, but she had always been depicted as an outspoken lesbian with strong feminist values and a firm hold on her own sexuality. Never had the mere thought of being in a heterosexual relationship crossed her mind, as evidenced by her complete inability to be in a relationship with the pre-op transsexual Sofia Lopez in season one. Liz's sexual encounter with Christian was an unusual moment, not just because of the obvious fact that she's gay. It was a scene lacking in any kind of intimacy, Christian using Liz as a depository for his sex drive, Liz lying there unsure of what the hell she was doing or what she was experiencing. While the scene is the latest in a long run of mildly absurd plot twists, the idea of Liz and Christian sleeping together holds a lot of potential, with both characters thrown into an unexpected situation and forced to deal with the consequences. But, as this is Nip/Tuck season five, a far cry from the intriguing heights of the first two seasons, the story immediately turns into sensationalist junk.

Christian's obnoxious gloating over having 'banged' Liz, followed by Liz's shrill yelling over whether or not she climaxed, was totally the wrong direction to take immediately after the event itself. It reduced the characters to such easy stereotypes, rather than acknowledge a situation which would prove difficult for both parties, regardless of how they could sometimes be as people. In the end, this particular subplot just left a bad taste in the mouth.

Gene Shelly holds the unique distinction of being the only Nip/Tuck episode I struggle to watch, because too much of it is patently gross. The Shelly subplot is without a doubt the most disgusting, exploitative and desperate garbage the show has ever depicted, with the two androgynous, bisexual, inbred hillbillies and their open relationship. From that vomit-inducing scene of Tracey going down on Raj (as well as his cries of 'mommy'), to her scene in the bathroom later on, the story is unspeakably gross, and just the worst the show has ever depicted. Even worse than that Frankenlaura incest murder in season three. Ugh.

Equally inane but not quite as gross was Sean's exploits with Daphne. It always bothered me that the show went out of its way to introduce this woman in a previous episode, only to have her revealed as some creepy baby fetishist who likes to nurse her lovers and wrap them up in adult diapers. Really, show? Hire an actress for a two-episode guest role purely to showcase a fetish that is so familiar to TV viewers through its various depictions on other shows that it ceases to be remotely shocking nor scandalous. Ugh, once again.

Finally, there was that gross Kimber sequence, which casually depicted her as a bitchy, immature, condescending, ignorant and nasty moron. She had a point about the possibility that Christian's treatment of others had to end up with some kind of karmic payback, but it was plain ugly to see her being written so horribly. Seriously, show, I get that they need to come up with something to keep Kelly Carlson around, but I'm sure Kimber fans and Carlson herself would have preferred to see her off the show altogether instead of being given such character-destroying material like this. Triple ugh.

Gene Shelly had some mildly intriguing character moments. It also had a vaguely promising Liz story which was immediately squandered and treated with as much sensationalist distaste as practically everything else. And then we had the series of gross subplots. Gene Shelly definitely ranks down there as one of my least favorite episodes, an hour that only makes the viewer want to re-enact one of the numerous vomit sequences featured this week. 'Ick' all round. F

Guest stars Adhir Kalyan (Dr. Raj Paresh); Jaime Ray Newman (Dr. Daphne Pendell); Beth Gargan (Tracey Shelly); John Fleck (Gene Shelly); Lauri Johnson (Lila Rusovic); Kristin Minter (Kitty)
Writers Lyn Greene, Richard Levine Director Richard Levine

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