Trading Faces


Forget Trading Spaces, the eminently watchable TV show in which neighbors redecorate each other's homes, and get ready for a series that could have been called Trading Faces.

ABC is reportedly developing Extreme Makeover, in which people get plastic surgery (sadly, though, they don't switch faces with their neighbors).

The pilot features three participants, all of whom

…got nose jobs, cosmetic dentistry, new hairstyles and wardrobe from what the station called a "dream team" of specialists.

"We were looking for strong, confident people who were dealt a bad deck of cards in the looks department," said the show's executive producer, Howard Schultz.

"We wanted people for whom surgery would change their life and those who couldn't afford it otherwise."

With Michael Jackson hovering in the background as a grim cautionary tale, it's nothing less than fascinating to note how quickly plastic surgery–rightly redubbed cosmetic surgery in contemporary times–has been mainstreamed over the past few decades; nose- and boob-job jokes just don't pack the same punch they used to.

Critics rail about the superficiality of it all, but it's in keeping with a more general–and generally positive– push toward individualized, customized physical identity and enhancement that includes everything from wildly colored hair to body studs to working out (thank you, Richard Hell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dennis Rodman, and the TV channel that more than any other kept the cameras rolling on the freak parade).

Folks such as Virginia Postrel and Grant McCracken have been doping out the whys and wherefores of this large, ongoing trend for a while. And with truly effective biotech interventions in the offing, Extreme Makeover may well look tame very soon.