Small screen — 'Dr. 90210' makes asses out of everyone
" ... it's just society is wrong," may be the truest words uttered on Episode 8 of Dr. 90210, E! Television's new reality series about plastic surgery in the land of silicone and celluloid that premiered Sunday, September 5 at 9 p.m. Central. The irony is as thick as a gluteus maximus implant as Dr. Matlock, an attractive black plastic surgeon, comforts a young Middle Eastern woman who is having her hymen surgically repaired so that she will appear to be a virgin on her upcoming wedding night.
Her face obscured by that annoying fuzzy ball, her voice electronically distorted, Melena (name changed to protect her identity) tells us of her agony following a rape by a boyfriend when she was young. She wants to have this surgery for her relatives and for her fiancé, whose family may select a gynecologist to check the goods before the nuptials. If anyone found out she was not a virgin, she says portentously, "they would have the right to kill me."
A Latina in her early twenties, Pati is shaped like an ice cream cone with a double scoop on top, which just won't do because her dream is to pose for Playboy (this is probably cartoonist Robert Crumb's fault, whose rise to pop culture eminence two years ago, along with Jennifer Lopez' '90s superstardom, cemented the return of the ample arse to fashion). What her smiling father, Adrian, could possibly be thinking when he picks Pati up after her first post-op check-up (it hurts a lot, by the way; no sitting for a week), I can't say, but he probably hadn't seen the operating room footage in which Dr. Rey compares Pati's derriere muscles to raw chicken flesh: fairly easy to separate. "Adjusting the implant," however, "is a pain in the butt, no pun intended."
In case you are tempted to see Dr. Rey as not entirely human, we spend time with him and his anxious wife as they prepare for the arrival of their second child, chase their bug-eyed chihuahua down the street, and peruse boutiques for sexy maternity wear. "I like to think there's a feminine side to me," he says, although he hates to shop. Me, too. I mean, how do you decide which credit card to use?
And just in case you miss the heavy-handed attempt to equate Dr. Rey's and Dr. Matlock's respective clients, Dr. 90210 presents a female Middle Eastern expert who assures us that these women are affirmatively addressing the same problem: "to be socially acceptable."
Bring on the bell hooks, sister.
Or dance hooks. Pati's friends admiringly describe her as a "little J. Lo" once the swelling has subsided enough to allow for T & A-friendly duds and a turn on the floor.
Weirdly enough, another J. Lo reference surfaced on The Soup, the stand-up comedy / pseudo criticism show that follows the Sunday midnight re-broadcast of Dr. 90210. This time, though, it was in a clip from a Couples Fear Factor episode in which a husband experiences an epiphany about his wife's narcissism. Coincidence? Or is it an oblique (so oblique as to approach Zen) critique of a fellow network show; because, really, how could you revisit the worst TV moments of the past week and skip Dr. 90210?
The Soup is hosted by the pleasantly gelled Joel McHale who is, I think, what you get if you cross Dennis Miller with a particularly mellow and eager-to-please chihuahua. It offers just enough of that oft-promised "liberally biased media" (clever dig at Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; appropriately strafing review of the Bush twins' convention appearance) to keep you hanging on if you watched Dr. 90210 and are contemplating ending it all with a bottle of pills and a quart of Tito's Vodka. Oh, wait, that'll leave bags under your eyes. •
By Elaine Wolff