Season 1 Episode 4

Sophia Lopez

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Aug 12, 2003 on FX

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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  • Great way to use their flair for controversy to tackle a subject many would be too afraid to. Episode summary in review.

    While shows like Nip/Tuck have a reputation to shock and offend their audiences, what differentiates them from mere shock value is that they also use it to discuss issues other shows are too afraid to handle. A transgender character will offend some and cause some in their community to look closely for stereotyping. However, Jablonski and Jonathan Del Arco do fantastic jobs writing and portraying (respectively) the title character. Sophia’s a woman who is desperate to reflect outside how she feels. She and her other friends are discriminated when they look for medical help. Whereas everyone else sees her as a freak, her son respects her decision to undergo gender reassignment.

    Prudish Sean, sheltered from alternate lifestyles, is apprehensive when he first meets Sophia, but other events in his life allow him to see Sophia beyond her appearance. This begins when porn star Shyanne (nice pun) arrives. He is mortified and fears a contract with her company would turn Troy/McNamara into a brothel. Christian tells him to relax and offers some advice about women to help his marriage. Like many people, he tries hard to prove that he isn’t a prig. He does so by trying anal sex, but stumbles because he didn’t warn Julia first. The aspect of bringing in porn stars to work initially mortifies him, but soon he takes Christian’s advice and takes the porn gift basket Shyanne’s studio gave them to bed when Julia and Jude come home to study.

    His new open mindedness allows him to see Sophia as a human, so when she calls him for help when her friend is hemorrhaging, he takes charge and gets her treated, calling one of the nurses out for ignoring them despite blood loss. Because of his change, she is able to tell him who did this to her friend and who botched her original neck surgery, the man who taught and inspired Sean, Marcus.

    Marcus’ office is appropriately disgusting. From the opening shot of the worn sign and the sounds of dogs barking and car alarms to the interior with the bloody rags, some brown with age, it is an office only the desperate would go to for help. It’s unfortunate this storyline wasn’t pursued longer than it was because it was left open and it could’ve been used to deal with Sean’s growing mid-life crisis. Marcus warned Sean that this is what would happen to him, even though he was very successful now. Sean doesn’t want that to happen, so he tries to help Sophia by becoming her doctor.

    Marcus, along with Bobolit, this is the first episode where we discover how other local plastic surgeons work. In his first appearance, Bobolit shows what Christian could’ve become had he not met Sean. Bobolit and Christian both have a lot in common. They’re womanizers, they’re showmen and they’ve been able to coast despite not being as talented as surgeons like Sean. Bobolit offers Christian a position in his practice, which has overshadowed Troy/McNamara because of flashy gimmicks and the willingness to sign contracts with porn studios.

    Christian is willing to join him, but soon he realizes that this is a problem when Matt contracts an STD from a one night stand. Because he took Matt to a “porn party”, Julia kicks Christian out of Matt’s life. He realizes the cost of allowing this into his work and aligning himself with someone who lives that way. What best represents this compromise is the Lamborghini. Bobolit has a blue one and it shows how he has compromised whatever ideals he had, which will later produce dire consequences. He doesn’t have the friend Christian has in Sean, nor does he have a family he is close to like the McNamaras. In the prologue, it is presented like a commercial for the car, but in the end, the glamour is gone because it costs him what he loves.

    Oddly enough, Christian and Sean switch views. In the end, Sean is OK with the porn contract because the money flow would allow for more pro bono work, but Christian doesn’t want it because he realizes what compromising their ethics can cost. Such parallel action fortifies the writing of this episode.

    Bringing porn into the office not only offended Sean, but also it drove one patient to leave and caused Grace to side with Sean against Christian. While Christian is OK with arguing with Sean, he still resents Grace being there and her questioning of his life doesn’t sit well with him either.

    The other plot advanced this week is Julia’s return to medical school. As soon as she arrives to class the fact that she’s twenty years older than most of the students intimidates her. In addition, one of her former classmates who has the life Julia wants is teaching the class. The writer needed to have a reason for Julia to stay, so Jude appears. They find something in common when he reveals that he is older than most of the students there, even if it is only five years and a bond forms. He also flatters and flirts with her, making her feel better about her age. This arc is interesting when you parallel it with an upcoming storyline.

    The first three episodes served to establish who were the major characters and what were their dilemmas, but with “Sophia Lopez”, the plot is in motion. The next few episodes will further move and complicate things as this season’s story gels. We get the first episode featuring a recurring patient, the introduction of Jude and Bobolit, in addition to Julia’s stint in medical school. The reversal of viewpoints between Christian and Sean is one of the strongest pieces, as is introducing a multi-layered transgender character.
  • From Bed To Worse Written by Sean Jablonski Directed by Michael M. Robin

    We’re only into the fourth episode of the first season and already we’re having a major case of identity crises of sorts in what could be described as a rather quiet and intense hour.

    The patient of the week is Sophia Lopez, a trans-gendered woman who seeks pro-bono work on her neck, which Sean is reluctant to administer at first. Always the more conscientious surgeon, Sean’s slight prejudice towards Sophia took me off guard, especially given his recurring berating of ethics. Thankfully his spell of stupidity was only brief after learning more about Sophia’s family background.

    Wonderfully played by Jonathan Del Arco, Sophia was instantaneously a sympathetic character and her monologue in regards to being judged on so many scales really hit home as many of the characters had found their reputation getting in the way of how they would like to be perceived by others.

    To some people even those close to him, Sean has been perceived as dull and he decided to take action by trying unsuccessfully to woo Julia (shower sex, romantic dinner) and boy, can’t Dylan Walsh play bumbling in such a cute and funny manner? He also confronted his disgraced former mentor responsible for botching up operations on a lot of Sophia’s friends and even though we got a painfully obvious exchange about the perils of turning 40, I have a feeling there's something in that exchange that may be pivotal in later installments to come. Julia, on the other-hand
    By comparison almost had a lighter affair with only having to face the humiliation of mistaking her former friend Iris as a student when in fact Iris is her teacher and of course there’s Jude, who could barely contain his enthusiasm when it came to meeting his new friend.

    Matt, meanwhile in an attempt to bounce from Vanessa had sex with a fluffer girl, then found out she an STD but this thread was too easily skimmed over to really register but it did as part of a catalyst for …

    Christian, the only person in which his reputation really did precede him and not in a good way. His hedonistic, playboy nature got him a nice car, a free porn-star party and clientele as well as a job offer from rival firm owned by Merrill Bobolit, who despite his great banter came too much across as sleazy to be even remotely half-likeable. The consequences for Christian in this episode though ranged from Julia giving Christian a massively brutal if not totally inaccurate character analysis as well as a further “lack of ethics” chants from both Sean and Grace but Christian actually surprised me in the end when he decided to terminate one of the firm’s most profitable contracts but there is still the slight threat of him possibly leaving McNamara/Troy and actually being tempted to work for Merrill. That’s two threats of dissolution we’ve had in the space of four episodes. Here’s really hoping it doesn’t amount to anything.

    Also in “Sophia Lopez”

    Other patient of the week: Cheyenne, a porn star who got a work-related injury. Her firm played something of a role with the men in this episode.

    Did anyone else Bobolit’s slogan “Let Me Bring Out The Real You” tacky? It’s appropriate for a plastic surgery company but even still.

    Sean (to Christian): “Erotic films are when you use a feather. Porn films are when you use the whole chicken. This girl’s been through a lot of chickens”.

    Sean: “We do that type of work on people who have suffered accidents and birth defects”
    Sophia: “Being one gender on the inside and one on the outside is a birth defect”.

    It was interesting how everyone at the porn party was dressed in white and silver and Christian having to stand out donned all black.

    Merrill: “I’m pleased to announce I walk through the front door these days”
    Christian: “I guess the bouncers around town take pity on those hair plates”.

    I’m not completely sure of the chronology in this episode but there was a one week later scenario in the second half.

    No Liz in this episode and Grace is kind of getting on my nerves a bit.

    Julia (to Christian): “Real fathers wouldn’t turn someone they love into a filth-loving, moraless, bottom-feeder. Real fathers want their sons to be more than they are, not carbon copies”.

    That girl at Bobolit’s place looked and sounded like Meadow Soprano. Was it just me?

    Standout music in this episode was Steely Dan’s “Peg” and “In Your World” by Red Cola. The songs at the porn party basically.

    This was impressive. Despite not much continuity (bar mentions of Vanessa’s sexuality and Julia’s return to school), “Sophia Lopez” was a sensitive, intimate look of how people are often perceived by others and themselves and it’s this kind of subtle storytelling that really heightens a series like this.
  • Transpotting

    Like Nanette Babcock last episode, Sofia Lopez was another moving, memorable patient of the week. Played to perfection by Jonathan Del Arco, Sofia was one classic example of a transsexual and the struggles they go through in almost every aspect of their lives. Something as simple and routine to many people as a hospital visit is turned into a nightmare, with transphobic doctors willing to let somebody bleed to death because they don't want to get near them.

    I really loved Sofia, and I loved how she single-handedly changed Sean's perceptions. He came off both judgmental and scared during their first meeting, but eventually became pretty caring over her and people like her, especially when he discovered he had a personal connection to the man who was behind the black market sex changes.

    Meanwhile, Julia went back to school, and had an uncomfortable moment with a pre-Housewives Mary-Alice Young, who appeared to be everything Julia gave up when she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I also already hate Jude. The fact that he immediately didn't excuse himself when he realized Sean had prepared a romantic meal was completely out of order. Who does that!?

    There were several other subplots, including Matt sleeping with a porn star and Christian getting a job offer from a rival plastic surgeon. Bobolit was hilarious, and exactly the type of moron who got rich quick and has a ton of material goods around him at all times, including fast cars and trampy women. Thank god Christian didn't accept his offer in the end.

    Avoiding anything reminiscent of one of those corny Blossom-esque "issue episodes", Sofia Lopez was another masterpiece Nip/Tuck hour, with an excellent central performance from Jonathan Del Arco.

    Director: Michael M Robin
    Writer: Sean Jablonski
    Rating: A+
  • Sophia Lopez is one of my favorites and am very excited I got the dvd so i can watch whenever.

    Shaun has some issues and this episode really brings them out. We also find out that he also has a very caring heart and that once is fixated on something he can not shake it unless he feels that he has accomplished something towards it and made it better. That's also when Matt starts becoming a little weirder and alot more interesting. He goes through such a rough time this season and it's all just coming at his so fast. The Troy factor is in full effect especially on Kimber. The games he plays with her are extremely brutal but they also get a laugh.
  • It was the first episode I saw from this show so I wasn't into the story. But I liked it.

    In this episode this doctors have to face two different "problems": the first one with a transexual and the another with a porno star (or at least she pretends to be).
    I loved the way they dealt with the situation because they were tricky. They made a transexual be treated as a normal person, and that's the way they should always be treated. But of course the doctor who made those surgeries to transexuals is still making surgeries...
    The porno star made us face moral issues, what will other clients think of that? Of course some people are against it but should someone be blamed for making a plastic surgery to someone in that situation? Maybe :)