First, my television confession: Nip/Tuck, an FX show which ran from 2003-2010, streamed from Netflix, is perfect for a rainy hour on the couch or the treadmill. It explores, sometimes clumsily and sometimes gracefully, the contradictions between internal and external reality.
The two main characters are fictional Miami plastic surgeons Sean McNamara and Christian Troy. McNamara, pretty-much-ethical-family-man-barely-keeping-his-life-together, is not as complicated or interesting as Troy, cad-who-will-do-anything-including-trade-his-girlfriend-for-a-Lamborghini.
I hoped for an illuminating back story for Christian, and finally got it in the eighth episode of Season 1.
When Christian realizes that he has removed a birthmark from the genitals of a pedophile priest, a birthmark that the priest’s victims have cited to identify him as their abuser, he confronts the priest in his confessional.
He confesses, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been twenty-two years since my last confession. These are my sins: I’ve lost my faith, Father. I’ve dank. I’ve done drugs. I’ve fornicated with women and discarded them like trash. I’ve lost my soul. The boys you raped will be saying the same thing in 20 years.”
After he threatens the priest into confessing his crimes, and the police lead him away, he sits in the church’s pews with Sean.
Christian: I’ve been praying to forgive but I can’t do it. … Not him. Me.
Sean: What did you do?
Christian: I let him touch me, for years. I let him touch me.
Christian: Mr. Troy.
Sean: Your foster father?
Christian: He’s dead and I thought that would end it. But it didn’t.
Sean: Christian, you were just a boy. If he abused you, it was his fault. He had the power. He’s the one.
Christian: I didn’t have anything when he took me in. I wanted to be somebody. He said he’d give me money. I let him touch me. And I did, I bought things. I sold myself. Oh, God, I sold myself.
The Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal continues. The Pope resigns. Every day on In Real Life I hear real-life versions of Christian’s experience. And I applaud anyone who tells stories, fictional or autobiographical, that bring sexual abuse into the light where it can be fought with all our might.