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The fact that Extreme Makeoveris a televised text, of course, links it to important forbears, such as Queen for a Day, which searched for sad stories, put them on display and rewarded each Queen’s long-suffering.
Yet, there is a significant difference between a new washing machine and a new nose, and if we are to look to television antecedents to better understand Extreme Makeover, I believe we’d be more likely to find them in an amalgam of soap opera and game show, say General Hospital and The Price is Right, where sad stories are the only sorts of stories worth telling, where consumer knowledge is assessed and rewarded, where benevolent hosts select from a pool of candidates to “come on down,” and where audiences vicariously participate in the tension and celebrate the outcome—be it love in the afternoon or winning the grand showcase.
 The story it tells—one of suffering and transformation, of desperation and joy—is as old as narrative itself.
We can see elements of Extreme Makeover’sstory played out in myth cycles of death and renewal, in fairytales that depict the heart’s desire and the body’s change, in operas, novels, films, and television where suffering is interrupted by a benevolent spirit (be it fairy godmother, good witch, or plastic surgeon) who brings hope, revitalization, and opportunity for a newly lived life.
This external look, in turn, conforms to a fairly narrow palette of pleasing looks (for both men and women) best demonstrated by glamorous movie stars and airbrushed models in popular magazines.
 For the particular makeover shows presently on the air, the premise is simple: alteration equals entertainment.
The sub-text is more complicated, for the process makes clear that personal transformation is the first and most necessary step in self-improvement and, thus, to a sort of sublime American entitlement.
 Amy’s words suggest that pre-makeover insecurity caused a split between her sense of identity and her physical presence, exacerbated by a social censure that diminished her self-worth.
Like many victims of trauma, Amy responded to pain through dissociation, separating her sense of identity from her embodied experience, in many ways mirroring what theorists identify as the postmodern condition.
Consider also Fox’s makeover show, The Swan, where candidates/contestants are literally scored, or the website offers a formula for beauty based on a numerical analysis of facial planes and their deviation from the “golden mask.”  What we’re seeing in both Extreme Makeover and the present media and makeover genre more broadly, then, is not programming dedicated to individuated enhancement, but a clustering of makeover shows working to underscore collectively the imperative of high-glamour appearance—golden highlights, trimmed bodies, four-inch heels, and double D breasts notwithstanding.