NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser aired the season 15 finale earlier this week. It was shocking and not shocking all at the same time. A lot of people were shocked by the slim figure of Rachel who won the contest. Most people stating that she is now too thin. Photos of the shocked faces of Bob and Jillian spread like wildfire across the internet. But what’s really shocking, is that we’re not outraged at the Biggest Loser like this all the time.
If you cant wait for the video at the end of the post, what most people are talking about can be summed up with these three photos:
Most people are aware that what the show really is, is a “reality” show not based in reality at all (though there are a lot of people who are still not aware of this). Contestants who are severely obese apply to be on TV where millions of people watch as they workout until they are physically ill. They do this for hours and days on end while they meticulously measure and count the calories of everything they put into their mouth. When The Biggest Loser isn’t showing people getting ill from a workout, it’s showing the contestants eating some highly processed garbage that’s supposedly healthy. Can anyone say shameless product placement? Forget about health and real food. Let’s sell some crap!
Let’s also not forget about the contestant back stories that are aired in the beginning of the season to tug at our heart-strings and make us all think that The Biggest Loser is really just doing all this to help these poor souls out. Contestants and viewers are emphatically told “This is a life or death intervention. You’re entering rehab.” – Jillian Michaels. And we buy this hook, line, and sinker.
Once all the sappy back-stories are established, and the first puke inducing workout has been aired along with countless product plugs, we get to the weigh ins. We watch as each person takes off their shirt and shoes prior to walking up to a large weight platform normally reserved for livestock and stand there as the numbers clip back and forth from more or less than their prior weight. As the final number is revealed, the contestants that lose anything less than double digits show their disappointment. Disregard the fact that losing weight in a healthy way that will keep the weight off should only be 1-2 pounds per week maximum and even that is considered rapid weight loss by the medical field if you do it for too many weeks in a row. But, losing weight the right way is boring. Too boring.
When you take a surface view of the show, it appears as though the producers really are doing all they can to make the contestant’s weight loss safe. There are professional trainers, doctors and physical examinations etc. But there is one major thing missing from the show. A psychiatrist front and center (and time, a lot of time… but that is a whole other issue).
There are a lot of reasons that a person gains as much weight as these contestants do, and most of the time it’s a mental issue. They are unhappy, guilty, sad etc. If the show really wanted to help people lose weight and keep it off, not only would there would be a psychiatrist on staff and weekly therapy sessions, but the show would also run for years versus just 4 short months. But who would watch a weight loss show that was so slow? No one. It would be like watching grass grow. It’s not interesting and it doesn’t make money.
A lot of people are saying that Rachel just did what it takes to win a game show and they don’t see anything wrong with that. And therein lies the problem too. We’re now desensitized to this unreal reality TV. We think there is nothing wrong with any of it when it’s all so completely wrong.
So, get indignant all you want. But until we stop trying to make “real” TV as exciting as scripted TV, this is what we have… dysfunction all around. Until we change things, we’ll just have to slap on an uncomfortable smile like Alison Sweeney did when Rachel first came out looking so gaunt and simply get on with the show.
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