Portions of “Addicted to Beauty” have been “arranged and edited for dramatic effect,” but like everything else in this paean to plastic surgery, you’ll be hard-pressed to distinguish the real elements from the ersatz ones. Focusing on the awkward marriage between a La Jolla surgeon and an upscale spa, the show traffics in distasteful stereotypes and features a manic staff incapable of dealing with stress or pressure. That’s clearly supposed to make for riveting TV, but it mostly yields irritation. Think: “Nip/Schmucks.”
For a show about the societal obsession with looking young, the biggest drawback is that pretty much everybody here appears wince-inducingly plastic. If the editing’s to be believed, spa manager Dianne York-Goldman isn’t only an incompetent manager, but her face is so contorted by the scalpel it looks like she’s auditioning for “Cats.”
Her staff, meanwhile, spends most of its time during the first two episodes sniping at each other, when they’re not prodding the doctor, Gilbert Lee, to give them free Botox injections. The fact that some of those pleading are in their 20s — and one cheerfully refers to Botox as a “gateway drug,” an unfortunate analogy — does not reflect well on their chosen profession.
Then again, that makes as much sense as anything else in “Addicted to Beauty,” where staff members burst into tears at the drop of a hat, and executive assistant Natasha — the one person in the “cast” who doesn’t resemble a science project, her surgically enhanced breasts notwithstanding — awkwardly drags a camera crew along on a first date.
The program thus falls into that loosely scripted nether-realm. There isn’t much genuine drama surrounding whether the spa-surgery marriage — ostensibly the show’s underlying tension — is going to work out, and the characters are more pitiable than despicable.
Women are obviously the target audience for this sort of fare, and Oxygen needn’t attract many of them to declare victory. Still, if “Beauty” succeeds, it’s a clear case of winning ugly.