Thursday, September 21, 2006

NBC's The Biggest Loser (before/after)


2 hour premier tonight. If I’m not mistaken, this is the 3rd go-around for this gem of a reality show. One of the more compelling of the genre, this pits giant huge fat people against one another in an effort to see who can lose the most weight over a finite and equal period of time.

It’s come under fire and has been accused of being exploitive, pandering to the emotional need in all of us to feel better about ourselves, to which I respond, “Okay, but what’s the bad part about it?”

Bitch tit central, and plenty of it. But what a lot of its critics fail to point out is that the show actually encourages folks to eat healthier, exercise, to live “better lives” in general. Since it invariably begins with teams, it provides an immediate source of support, both moral and hands-on with regard to weight loss and positive affirmation.

Oh sure, it’s not without its sources of humiliation, with a weekly weigh-in on a scale that can be seen from the space shuttle. (Incidentally, folks “in-the-know” call it “the scale that can be seen from space”, which I coined last year. Thieves!) Watching houseguests compete in athletic competitions can be painful for all those involved, including the viewers. And I won’t even mention the crying, the cat fights, the makeover mishaps, more crying and arguing over soy paste & mashed yeast, fat-free pancakes that apparently taste like ceiling tiles, sobbing, no shortage of vomiting (not the purging kind that supermodels swear by), more cat fights… And that’s just the fellas!

Ultimately I’d have to say that the positive aspects of the show outweigh [cough!] its exploitive nature. Because when you watch these people over the course of several weeks really take ownership of their problem and note the empowerment they feel when they realize that they can actually do something about it and get results, this show could be about any addiction. It just so happens this one’s about Nutty Bars and Fritos, and people who eat their feelings.

I like the gay trainer dude, but what’s-her-face is just too muscular. It’s unappealing. She’s actually slightly more masculine than he is.

Should be good!


What a night! Did you watch it? Go ahead. Have your Wired and Grey Anatomies and The House and Office People and Surviving. I’ll take this.

It started essentially with mini-profiles of many many fat people, which climaxed into a group weigh-in with 50 men and women, 1 from each state, to illustrate just exactly how fat we are as a nation, which last night came out to 147,392 pounds/50, give or take. (Okay, so it was more like 16,000 pounds. But it really did look like Lulu Roman had cloned herself about 13 times.)

Out of those 50, 2 teams of 7 were chosen. As teams. Am I making myself clear? Out of 50 gianormous rejects in real life, 2 gorgeous trainers practically chose teams for a game of Kickball on the schoolyard. And you could just see it in the faces of these beached whales. “Oh, thanks. Yeah, my self-esteem wasn’t low enough. Now you have to rub my nose in the fact that I can’t even be chosen for a team of bloated freaks. And you wonder why I weigh 500 pounds.”

Anyway, some highlights.

-Bob Harper is back as the Blue Team’s (I think) trainer. And he’s got a new look with regard to his hair. It’s kind of hard to describe. It’s like some sort of psycho-mullet thing. Less Celtic-ish and more Gaul-esque, reminiscent of some of the Emperor’s descriptions of those awesome fearless warriors in Gore Vidal’s wonderful fun-for-the-whole-family novel, Julian.

-Gillian Michaels has mercifully been replaced by Kim Lyons as the Red Team’s (see above) trainer, whose musculature exudes femininity where Gillian’s exuded a broken collar bone if you called her a lesbo. Make no mistake about it: Kim is toned, fit and packaged to move. But she retains a certain litheness and delicacy of limb where Gillian retained water and that chip on her shoulder. I approve. But her boobs are too big.

-Alabama really is ruling the reality roost, and The Biggest Loser is certainly no exception. I believe I’ve mentioned before that we have no shortage of fat people down here. But between American Idol, The Amazing Race, Survivor, Hell’s Kitchen and The Apprentice, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of our fat people are black. Or that all of our black people are fat.

-When the finalists were chosen for the 2 teams and were all on the stage, it was eerily reminiscent of last year’s University of Nebraska Homecoming Court.

-While the houseguests were dining on rice cakes and fresh fruit, I was cramming Cool Ranch with Bacon-flavored Pork Rinds into my mouth faster than you can say, “I loved you in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” and washing it all down with an RC Cola and half-a-dozen Moon Pies. That’s good eatin’!

-Not a single ankle for miles.

-One of the first duties as a contestant on The Biggest Loser is to strip down to your skivvies. And if that’s not enough humiliation, you weigh yourself on the biggest scale known to man on national television. (Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Huge scale. They’d do just as well to project their weight on the Bat Signal.) Again, it’s in the faces of these folks. “I’ve hit bottom.” But it turns out this is a bottom that hits back.

-I’ve always resented people whose addiction was food. Even after you’ve conquered that addiction, you still get to enjoy it. Can the same be said for heroin or crystal meth? The whole thing is so unfair!

-The hostess, (former?!) actress/comedian Caroline Rhea, looks as if she might wanna hoist that giant ass up on the old treadmill her own self. But she makes sense as a host. How cruel would it be to have Mary-Kate Olsen barking out your weight like a short-order cook when you tip the scales at an eighth of a ton?

-A very special gift for all y’all.

There are no losers on The Biggest Loser, of course. What there are are people trying desperately to like themselves again. These aren’t people trying to become thin. These are people trying to stay alive.

From week to week I’ll watch these people as they get control of their lives back, literally. It’s honestly touching, if somewhat cheap and voyeuristic. But by the end of a Biggest Loser run, when all the weight has fallen off these ogres like a flesh bathrobe, one thing is for certain: Life’s just easier for thin, attractive people, in every way imaginable. Always has been. Always will be. That’s just because most people are superficial and stupid. Good thing this country’s not really a democracy; otherwise we’d really be fucked. Even more than we are. Already. And not in the good way that you here so much about. On the internet(s).

[cricket chirp]


wagtheslate said...

Hey swit. I went in to fix your “y’all” link and try and see what you were doing wrong, but I’ll be damned if there wasn’t anything wrong with it. So, I’m scratching my head. The only thing I noticed was your quotes were “smart quotes” and not “straight quotes”. Look them up in your Microsoft Word help. However, I don’t think they were the problem.

Anyway, I used the “insert link” button in the edit posts page to redo your link, and it works now. I’d still like to know why your links aren’t working, but the only thing I can think of is you telling me the process you use to create them, from beginning to end.

wagtheslate said...

p.s. Why no Frayge6 on WtS?