Watch enough reality television, and one conclusion is inescapable: We can't do anything right. Run a restaurant. Operate a bar. Manage a hotel.
So it comes as no surprise that we can't improve our looks properly, either, which brings us to Botched, a series about plastic surgery disasters that began Tuesday on E! The show follows two doctors, Terry Dubrow and Paul Nassif, as they practice what Nassif calls "revision plastic surgery," trying to repair other surgeons' mistakes.
It is, you might say, the latest entry in the genre of Fix-It TV, but you'd be wrong. It's actually one of the two latest entries, because also beginning Tuesday was Abby's Studio Rescue on Lifetime, in which Abby Lee Miller of Dance Moms tries to whip ineptly run dance studios into shape.
That reality television has a rubbernecking fascination with failures of one sort or another is unsettling. What's really disturbing, though, is that shows like Botched, about humans in need of repair, are indistinguishable from those about buildings or businesses in need of repair.
They're all structured the same way: Some supposed expert surveys the problem, rails about how awful things are, applies tough love and effects change. And they all sound the same. Here are a dozen quotes from Fix-It TV shows. Pick the three that are from Botched:
1. "I'm not going to stand here and tell you that I'm going to wave a magic wand and that everything's going to be OK. Whatever the problems are, if they're fixable, I think with my help you can fix them."
2. "This is worse than starting with Sheetrock and a floor."
3. "It's dark and little and tight. You might get in there, some spiders come out."
4. "That looks like the inside of a diaper."
5. "Her mouth is what gets her in trouble."
6. "I can't stand it. I don't want to look at it ever again."
7. "They're fluffy. They look like new."
8. "Oh, my God. Why is that so big?"
9. "I know it looks really bad, but it's actually even worse inside."
10. "Padded seat. With a back."
11. "On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 12. It's the most complicated you can get."
12. "Uck. Gross."
First, a caveat: Not all plastic surgeons are hacks, and not all plastic surgery is frivolous, as plenty of accident victims and people with birth defects will attest. But the cases that end up on reality TV (Botched being only the latest in a long line of plastic surgery shows) skew toward the garish and the vain.
Anyway, No. 3 (in reference to a nose job) and Nos. 9 and 11 (a breast-implant disaster) are from Botched. No. 1 is a pep talk Miller gives to a struggling business on Abby's Studio Rescue. No. 2 (in reference to a space being considered for renovation into a breakfast nook) and No. 7 (bedding) are from the Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible.
No. 4 (a particularly unappetizing dish), No. 5 (an irritating employee) and No. 12 (more unappealing food) are from Gordon Ramsay's efforts to salvage a particularly wretched restaurant on Fox's Kitchen Nightmares. No. 6 (a belly tattoo that reads "No One's Bitch'') and No. 8 (a back tattoo that says "Baby Boy") are from Spike TV's Tattoo Nightmares. And No. 10 is Jon Taffer's description of new stools he had installed in a troubled establishment on Spike TV's Bar Rescue.
Let's close with another quotation that's from Bar Rescue, but that could serve as a motto if anyone were ever to gather these shows together into a Fix-It TV Network: "You can't fake incompetence like this."