The good news about the new season of NBC’s hit television show “The Biggest Loser” is that there is no more Jillian Michaels. The bad news is that everybody else is still there.
I have heard all of the defenses of the show; it’s popular, people lose weight, it’s inspirational. These rationalizations reveal just how low we have set the bar, how little we’ve come to expect and how “un-critical” our thinking is.
The show is exploitative and anything but inspirational. A handful of people are hand-picked from a figurative sea of troubled contestants. So-called fitness professionals engage in various forms of physical and emotional abuse, employ the worst kind of pop psychology and get into areas that are beyond the appropriate scope of practice. In short, the trainers behave towards clients in a manner that would get them fired in the real world.
The show worships at the alter of weight-loss and exudes negativity, from the title of the show to the attitudes of the trainers. There have been news stories detailing the methods the show’s producers use to keep past contestants from talking in public about their experiences on the show. If the show, and the contestant experience, is so fantastic and life-changing why not allow unfettered access to those who have been lucky enough to be a part of it?
I would love to hear from the people who went through the entire process and got on the show, only to be voted off the first week because they lost only 15-pounds instead of 20. How uplifting and inspirational do you think the first week’s loser’s story is? How do you think they are doing now.
This year the contestants will have the privilege of working with under-achieving tennis player and pin-up girl Anna Kournikova. The producers of the show have lowered the bar to the point where they aren’t even aspiring to get a “celebrity personal trainer” on staff; being famous and looking good in a tennis skirt is the new criteria. Super.
Actually, since “The Biggest Loser” is an appearance-based show at least the producers upgraded their training staff. I can’t imagine anyone pining for the days of Jillian.
So let the dysfunctional, weight-loss games begin.