Christian Troy Nips and Tucks Masculinity
If Christian Troy of “Nip/Tuck” were to be asked the show’s staple question of “tell me what you don't like about yourself,” one would think he would reply with a resounding “nothing.” On the surface, he seems to be living the dream of every man on the planet. He’s got endless notches in his bedpost, a sports car that would make any fanatic jealous, and a salary to happily sustain his bar hopping and partying. However, it isn’t all for show. Christian Troy is on the ultimate quest to assert himself as a masculine figure through his objectification and control over women. Whether on the operating table, shortly after a coke-induced sexscapade, or with McNamara/Troy’s lesbian anesthesiologist, Troy’s character is the epitome of hypermasculine expression. Although on the surface Troy’s character seems trivial and domineering, it is through the relationship between him and his partner, Sean McNamara, that the construction of traditional masculinity is critiqued and read as far more complex than sex, drugs, and hot bodies.
During season one, Christian Troy attempts to assert his masculinity by expressing dominant power over the physical female body. Although he is a plastic surgeon charged with scrutinizing women in order to help enhance their physical appearance, consultations turn into a free for all as, Dr. Troy’s “comments about women…are [misogynistic]” (Nettleton) in nature. Episode one features the introduction of Kimber Henry, a blonde model who, although thinks she is the “perfect ten” (Nip/Tuck) is criticized by Troy as he covers her body in markings indicating her seemingly endless flaws.
Seen as harmless in the context of the show’s profession, Troy doesn’t simply provide “frank and unflattering assessments of the woman’s features” (Nettleton) for the sake of drumming up business, but in order to demonstrate his masculinity and power over the feminine figure. By objectifying and deconstructing the female characters throughout the series’ 7 seasons, Troy suggests that although the women may have a confidence within themselves, it is not up to the standard of men, illustrating and highlighting the unattainable goals set by Christian Troy, and suggesting women need his approval to feel adequate. Although Troy’s masculine assertions are often demonstrated through his physical critique and dominance of the female characters, Troy seeks to mentally control not only the women he beds, but the women who he holds near and dear to his heart.
Christian Troy is further read as attempting to assert his male dominance and masculinity through his relationship with McNamara/Troy’s anesthesiologist, Liz. Liz is a lesbian who is initially placed within the show by the creators to diversify the characters, and act as a feminine voice of reason and level-headedness for Drs. Troy and McNamara. However, in season 5, episode 16, Liz’s character is a bystander to Christian’s crusade for ultimate masculinity as Christian manipulates his platonic relationship with Liz into a sexual one under the guise of being asleep.
Troy forces himself upon a clearly uncomfortable Liz perhaps with the ultimate goal of being so sexually skilled and masculine that he could turn the lesbian straight. The encounter between Christian and Liz is especially interesting, as Christian is recovering from chemotherapy due to breast cancer. Read within the context of Troy’s masculinity, the disease could be seen as an extreme threat to his manhood as it is often articulated as a strictly feminine illness. By allowing Liz and Christian to sleep together, the creators of the show “have taken a character quite comfortable with her identity…and completely turned her into,” (Lana) a pawn for Christian’s games. Later in the episode, it is shown that the sex was not for the enjoyment of Liz, but in order for Christian to get his “mojo back” (Nip/Tuck) By treating Liz as an object rather than a caregiver, Troy exchanges vulnerability for dominance. His action demonstrates that although Christian needed a feminine figure when he was weak, she was only there to be a submissive character to prove to himself the disease hadn’t claimed his masculinity. However, no matter how hard Christian Troy attempts to prove himself as dominantly masculine, his relationship with Sean McNamara presents a powerful contradiction to his traditional displays.
Although season one of “Nip/Tuck” begins with the future of McNamara/Troy in jeopardy, by the end of the series, it is clear that regardless of who either of them is banging or operating on, “Christian and Sean will always choose each other over everyone else.” (Nettleton) Rendering themselves life partners, McNamara and Troy’s relationships contradicts Troy’s masculine expression and reflects his deep-rooted desire for companionship beyond just a freak-in-the-sheets. Their relationship critiques traditional construction of masculinity displayed by Dr. Troy as described in the paragraphs above. The notion of Troy’s masculinity is further complicated by Troy’s apparent homosexual thoughts in season 4, episode 16. Troy’s feelings for Sean, whether sexual or otherwise, highlights the struggle men face between wanting to be excessively masculine while juggling feelings and experiences that may contradict what society upholds as the standard for men. However, his character is used to suggest that “numerous representations of masculinity may coexist” (Kaveney and Stoy) and even the most of masculine of men are multi-dimensional. On the surface, Christian Troy’s character serves as a template for the classic playboy but when delving deeper, “Nip/Tuck is a cautionary tale” (Kaveney & Stoy) about issues with reading characters, and people in reality, as only inherently masculine.
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