In Monday night’s fifth season premiere, TLC’s Dr. Pimple Popper officially embraced our new normal. While Before the Pop, a spin-off that aired earlier this year, featured socially distanced (i.e. screen-based) consultations performed by Dr. Pimple Popper (dermatologist Sandra Lee), the original series has at last returned with episodes filmed in Lee’s office during the pandemic. And really, aside from a few extra safety measures like an open-air consultation “room” outside Lee’s office building, it’s business as usual in the Dr. PP universe. It fucked me up and exhilarated me all over again. I found this lipoma removal to be as invigorating to the system as a cold-water face wash:
It’s like reuniting with an old friend who happens to be a gelatinous fatty lump that was seriously impeding its host’s quality of life. Hello, friend.
Really, it was the human drama that really made this episode, uh, pop. Where else but this show could you possibly bear witness to a tearful, heartrending recounting of a woman kissing her husband’s keloids as a sign of absolute acceptance?
Where else on TV could you learn that keloids, uh, can move like this?
Where else could you meet a 50-year-old woman from Valparaiso, Indiana named Jackie, whose back lipoma is denying her the confidence she needs to appear in the homemade music videos of her husband Mike, who “likes to rap” and is more than happy to share his craft with TLC’s audience? “I married you to be with you for the rest of my life, regardless if you have a tumor on your back or not,” said Mike in a heartfelt declaration of his devotion and desire to get her in front of his camera.
This story from Monica, 37, was probably the saddest: She describes the rejection she faced when a school declined to hire her on account of her facial nevus sebaceous, and the contrasting acceptance she received from a small child:
Dr. PP’s treatment for the bumps on Monica’s skin included cutting them off one by one with small scissors and a cautery loop. While administering the latter, Dr. PP went from snipping to snippy (or, really, as close as she gets, which is to say she retained the benevolence and patience of a pus-covered saint) in response to Monica’s endless stream of complaints. “I can’t get that raised area without your complaining on me,” she said, suggestively.
But Monica kept complaining and shut down the procedure soon after this point, resulting in not as radical a change as she perhaps wanted. Monica reasoned that she’d get future treatments, and also talked to someone about Camp Discovery, a camp for kids with skin conditions, about a job, thanks to Dr. Pimple Popper’s hook-up.
Jackie seemed to make a full recovery, months later. Mike rapped in response.
(For the foreseeable future, “The unashamed fam-ily?,” is going to be looping in my head as though it’s attached to a cautery.)
And Reggie with the keloid shelf was left with an inconclusive prognosis from Dr. PP, who thought his condition might be outside of her wheelhouse. Clearly they’re going to pick up his storyline in a future episode. I love a cliffhanger, especially when it comes visual metaphor that is rendered in flesh.