An alcoholic does not necessarily a good bartender make. A band of unhinged plastic surgery addicts is similarly ill-advised to open a one-stop shop for body transformations, and this obvious disaster recipe is the basis for Oxygen's newest reality series, 'Addicted to Beauty' (premiering Aug. 4 at 11 p.m. EST).
After running a spa with her now-estranged husband for seven years, socialite and surgical creation Dianne York-Goldman has joined forces with plastic surgeon Dr. Gilbert Lee to start an upscale medi-spa in Southern California that offers everything from spray tans to cellulite reduction to calf implants. As the California unemployment rate swells above 11 percent, business is booming!
To fuel the beauty addictions that enable their own, the Changes staff must inspire jealousy with its appearance, and so on goes the strange loop of Gore-Tex lips, globular breasts and contoured cheeks.
"I'd really love it if you get your teeth done," Dianne, who is a few face lifts away from becoming cat woman Jocelyn Wildenstein, tells her office manager, Shannyn, who has a Lauren Huttonesque gap between her teeth but looks to have removed all traces of humanity from every other part of her body. "Having bad teeth in the beauty business lets people know it's okay to not be perfect. And it's not okay! I would have done my teeth first thing over my breasts if I were you." Off to the dentist Shannyn goes.
Too bad all the characters are all so plastic that their lines would appear scripted even if they weren't, so the tension is not very interesting or believable.
Because the success of her reality show is more important than the success of her medi-spa, Dianne brings to Changes several contentious employees from her old business. All are at war with themselves and each other. The stabby, Botox-fueled staff makes 'Real World' corporate experiments look like a human resources dream.
There's Gary, the whiny receptionist who flat irons his hair behind the desk, cakes foundation into his cratery skin and begs Dr. Lee for Restylane injections on the sly in an unending quest for Cher's cheeks. Dr. Lee, whose face is stretched so tightly he probably sleeps with his eyes open, says that if there's anything he can do to help Gary, he will, and gets out the injectables. Gary also cries a lot for no apparent reason.
We meet Ronnie the concierge as he is down on his hands and knees bronzing Dianne's legs because they don't match. He has the bleached/tan coloring of a photo negative and often speaks in unison with Gary ("Oh. My. Gawd."), even though they both hate each other for not doing any work at all, ever, which begs the question of how closely they are following the producers' eye-stabbingly stereotypical gay boy script.
Then there's Natasha, Dianne's unflappable executive assistant who tries her hardest to keep the gays in line and dreams of running her own medi-spa one day. Having only been under the knife for a boob job, Natasha is the allegorical embodiment of the inverse relationship between beauty addiction and sanity. She has long dark hair and is pretty in a pre-rhinoplasty and lip collagen Megan Fox sort of way.
This motley crew's first task is to pull off a launch party that will announce the opening of Changes and the new, aggressively cheerful singledom of Dianne, who is ripe for the picking for anyone whose next career move is to appear on reality television. Dianne drapes herself in hundreds of carats of tasteless jewelry that are real but make her look faker, Dr. Lee summarily injects Botox into the foreheads of the staff before they pop the champagne, Natasha wears a low-cut dress and her dad is proud of her in the creepy way you'd expect. All things considered, the event is a success.
"All my friends who knew me when I was married want to introduce me to their friends," Dianne exclaims a little too exuberantly as she twirls around her La Jolla manse. "It's a whole new world opening up to me!"
Dianne was separated from her surgeon husband after shooting, so the show has shifted focus from the couple's relationship to Dianne's reinvention as a fabulous single woman. While reentry into the dating pool after 11 years wouldn't be easy for anyone, it's a particular challenge from behind an immovable mask. An expressionless face is, besides being a gross makeout target, a poor invitation for emotional intimacy.
"The staff is my family," Dianne says in a rare (but not real!) moment of self-awareness. "They're the closest people to me, and they're not all that close."
Sounds like one of Adam Sandler's lines in 'Funny People.' Sadly, the Changes staff lacks the comedic gifts of Seth Rogen.
'Addicted To Beauty' premieres Tuesday, August 4 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen, and starting August 11 will air during its normal timeslot of 10 p.m. ET/PT.