Welcome to the Biggest Loser, NBC’s newest entry into the reality TV fray – a weight loss competition show pitting 12 metabolically challenged Ample-Americans in a race against the scale, and each other. Quite honestly, the temptation here is to go for the easy, gratuitous fat joke – there are bound to be plenty of opportunities. But maybe this time a little sensitivity is in order. After all, who among us doesn’t at least partially share the pain and suffering of these 12 contestants? Though I’ve never reached the extreme gravitational mass of most of the players, I must confess that I’ve tipped the scales sufficiently to have experienced every low-carb fad diet that’s come along recently. I understand the lure of Cheez-its, pizza, candy, ice cream, and more candy.
As I sit down to watch this episode, I’m armed with a Charms blow pop, some Starburst, and a handful of stale Life Savers leftover from Easter - two YEARS ago. They were the pastel kind – purple raspberry, green watermelon, yellow banana, and pink cotton candy. I got them for 25 cents at Walgreen’s after Easter, but I threw away the banana and cotton candy ones - they’re just nasty!
The point is, deep down inside all of us there’s a fat person trying to get out, so maybe we should be nice.
From what I’ve heard, many hardcore reality TV junkies are hesitant to give this show a chance. Perhaps it hits too close to home, or they think the concept is too mean-spirited. I’m ready to give it a shot. Will it be a spectacle like Fox’s “The Littlest Groom”, or will it find a sincere side like NBC’s “Average Joe” franchise? Let’s find out together.
The twelve people gathered at this stately mansion have one thing in common – they’re all fat. Not pleasingly plump, not Reubenesque, not stout or full-figured. Fat. Fat. Fat. Screen images drive the point home – man boobs, stomach rolls, and bathing suits that unmercifully leave little to the imagination. The 12 contestants will be separated into two teams. They will be referred to as the red team and blue team, but, thankfully, they aren’t naming the teams at this point. i.e. – Lard Lovers and Butter Buddies! Each team is assigned a trainer who will push them towards weight loss, and each trainer comes armed with a different workout philosophy and diet philosophy, and we’ll see which ultimately proves to be more successful. At the end of the week, the team that has lost the most total weight is safe, and their opponents must choose a player to be eliminated.
There’s also a cash prize involved, as the biggest loser is also the biggest winner. Get ready to hear this clever little play on words over and over again. The last remaining player will become the biggest loser. The winner will leave with a thinner body and a fatter bank account, pocketing a cool ¼ million (cheapskates). The goal is simple – lose weight or face elimination.
Let’s meet the contestants – they seem to be normal people who really want to lose weight. This is no circus sideshow.
• Lisa is a 26 year old salesperson from Orlando – she says it’s hard being overweight as you are limited in clothes and where you can shop;
• Matt, 25, does marketing work in Pennsylvania – he’s never been thin and worries that if he loses weight people will just see a cute guy and not the real him;
• Ryan, DVD production, Van Nuys, CA – food is a big part of his life – a negative part. He doesn’t want to die of a heart attack at the age of 65;
• Gary, a 40 year old business owner from Brooklyn, has recently had less than desirable results at the doctor’s office. He wants to make sure he’s around for his wife and kids;
• Dave, a 39 year old real estate developer from Massachusetts, has a lot of confidence. In his mind he’s 6’4” with a full head of hair, but he does realize he needs to lose weight;
• Kelly Mac, 31 is a stand-up comic from Washington. She would like to be able to shake the insecurity that comes with being overweight;
• Lizzeth, 26, is a childcare worker from California. She would like to look drop dead hot, but more importantly wants to become a role model for her family – if she can do it, they can do it;
• Kelly M is a 28 year old teacher from PA. She says no man has ever come out and said to her “you’re too fat, I don’t want to date you.” There’s always another reason, but she wonders if her weight is the real reason;
• Dana is a 21 year old receptionist from Nashville. She wants to prove to herself she can live a healthy lifestyle.
There are still three we haven’t been introduced to yet – Aaron, Maurice, and Lisa, but it’s time for our host, Caroline Rhea, to take the stage. She tells the group this isn’t one of those shows that will let you take the easy way out – no stapling, sucking, or cutting. It’s all about a new fad in weight loss – diet and exercise! Weight loss is the bottom line and temptations will be along the way.
She tells the players to take a look at the past, and points to a huge buffet table adorned with a feast of comfort foods. The feast piled on the table replicates all the foods they ate last week. Though it’s intended to shock the contestants, I think it really just makes them feel at home. In fact, Ryan actually grabbed a donut off the table and popped it into his mouth to the horror of his fellow contestants.