Welcome to The Biggest Loser, where the person who loses the most weight becomes the biggest winner. Or, as the announcer introduces us to the show, “These 12 people have one thing in common: They’re Fat.” Way to be subtle there. Already I’m feeling sorry for the contestants, and we haven’t even met them yet.
In the opening shots, we see the twelve contestants walking down a path, while hearing sound clips from each one. Lisa says it’s hard being overweight because you’re limited to what you can wear – you always have to worry about your ‘chub-roll’ hanging over and you have to wear granny-panties to suck you in. Matt has never been thin, and he’s worried that if he loses the weight then people won’t see him for who he his, they’ll only see him because he’s cute. Ryan wants to be an old grandpa instead of dying from a heart attack at 65. Gary is there to get healthy after getting some bad test results from his doctor. David sees himself as an attractive, confident man, but realizes he needs to lose weight. Kelly Mac wants to walk into any store and buy anything she wants. Lizzeth wants to get skinny and look drop-dead hot, as well as become a role model for the rest of her family. Kelly M admits that no man has ever told her that they don’t want to date her because she’s too fat, but she always wonders if that’s the real reason. Dana wants to prove to herself that she can live a healthy lifestyle.
Caroline Rhea, the host, welcomes the group to the show. (And on a side note, my husband said “It would have been better if it were Sally Struthers.”) She says she knows they’re all here for different reasons, but there’s no easy way out. No stapling, sucking, or cutting. This is about changing their bodies the old-fashioned way, through diet and exercise. She warns them that there will be temptations along the way, but if they make it to the end they will walk away a whole different person.
Before moving on, Caroline wants them to address their past. Behind her are huge piles of food, each with a contestants’ name on it. These are foods that they ate last week. Each person seems to be grossed out at the sheer volume of the food. Caroline invites them to say goodbye to their comfort foods. Ryan sees five donuts lined up in front of his pile, and digs in and eats one. Hell, why not – it’s the last donut he’ll eat for a long time. The rest of the group is less sympathetic however.
Caroline then takes everyone into the 24-hour fitness gym, which features a mammoth scale with a huge screen which blares their weight. Andrea admits that the scale terrified her, calling it a “big mamma-jamma scale”. Caroline says “Don’t worry, you don’t have to weigh in until, um…right now.” She tells them to go change into their bathing suits and come back. At this point I’m feeling so badly for these folks – not only do they have to weigh in on national television, but they have to do it in a bathing suit. Yes, I do realize they were aware of the point of the show before they went, but having to actually face this is enormous.
After changing, the contestants emerge in their swimsuits. Loads of closeups from the camera crew on various bulges and rolls – is this necessary? Aaron, who didn’t look heavy at all in his tank top, is sporting a pair of man-boobs which he is obviously embarassed about. Each person is weighed and measured, and the results are:
Gary – 227 pounds
Lisa – 236
David – 250
Dana – 175
Matt – 310
Lizzeth – 167
Kelly M – 242
Ryan – 330
Andrea – 215
Aaron – 261
Kelly Mac – 223
Maurice – 436
Maurice says he wants to show America that “just because you’re large and in charge doesn’t mean you’re lazy”.
Caroline now takes the group to another room, which is lined with 12 refrigerators with clear glass doors – one for each person. Inside each one is their personal favourite foods, or as Caroline puts it, their biggest enemies. There’s ice cream, pizza, fried chicken, cake – you name it. Maurice kisses his fridge after waxing philosphical about fried chicken. Caroline points out that there are six people on each side, which means they have been divided into two teams. Each week the team who loses the least amount of weight collectively will have to vote out one of their own members. She adds that whoever ends up the biggest loser will walk away with $250,000. She then warns them to go and get a lot of rest, because tomorrow the trainers are coming.
The Blue Team, made up of Aaron, Maurice, Gary, Dana, Andrea, and Kelly Mac, seem to be very laid back. They’re joking around and having fun, while the Red Team (made up of, well, everyone else) are already talking about calling people out for eating donuts. Lisa says privately that if anyone gets on her case about what she’s eating, it’ll push her to eat more.
Maurice says that his first impression of some of the people was that they don’t stand a chance. He knows that at 430+ pounds, he makes some of the others look skinny. Aaron says that while Maurice will likely be able to lose weight quickly, he will be able to make his body work for him better. David thinks that Ryan will bust into his fridge first, while Ryan thinks that they should automatically boot the person who loses the least amount of weight that week.
The next morning the trainers arrive. Jillian Michaels, a fitness trainer from LA, is in charge of the Red Team. She says that she likes to push people hard, and likens her team to her army. She takes her team to the gym as we meet Bob Harper, a fitness trainer from Nashville. His philosophy is that burnout is never an option. His main focus is to make it fun and to get results. He doesn’t want to run them into the ground or push them beyond their limits. He introduces himself to his Blue Team, and takes them outside.
Jillian says that working out with her can be tough, and often people throw up and cry. Charming. She gets her team moving right off the bat, barking orders like a drill sargeant. Meanwhile, Bob is talking to his team and finding out what makes them tick.
The Red Team is outside running and lifting weights, and Lisa breaks down in tears. She tells Jillian that she doesn’t feel good, and Jillian talks her down. “You’ll cry, you’ll feel sick, you’ll puke – and then you’ll move on.” She tells Lisa to focus, and to say “I can lose weight”. Lisa gets past her exercise block and moves on.
Bob takes the Blue Team into the gym, and has them do various cardio activities. Dana complains a lot and keeps asking if she can stop or slow down, and Bob confesses that Dana will be a challenge. Gary says he was very close to vomiting.
Outside with the Reds, Matt says something about his morning cigarette, which prompts Jillian to reach into his pocket and take out his smokes, break them, and throw them on the ground. She makes him promise he won’t smoke any longer. Ryan snitches to Jillian that Dave smokes too, and she tells him that at the end of the day it’s all about getting healthy.
Over at the Blue Team, Aaron excuses himself to vomit outside. The group rallies around him though, and Bob is impressed that they all got a feeling of success.
The Red Team will be eating on the Eat Less Diet. The goal here is to burn more calories than you take in. They’ll be eating high fibre, low calorie, and low carb. Jillian says they’ll be getting more fibre and more green vegetables to help them feel full, as she feels the portion control will be the most difficult thing. She also warns them that if they cheat, they’d better not lie to her about it.
Bob’s Blue Team is eating the Eat More Diet. The idea here is to deal with hunger before it happens by eating 4-6 planned meals per day, focusing on high volume, low calorie, low carb foods (which sounds an awful lot like South Beach to me). Bob makes them a salad, and Maurice says that when Bob brought his plate over, he was looking around for the rest of it. He dubs the diet the “Eat Not Quite Enough” plan.
The following morning, everyone wakes up sore. Dana says that she got up in the middle of the night to pee and thought that she ‘didn’t have legs’. They all go down to the dining room, where a huge breakfast spread is laid out. There’s bacon, sausage, french toast, pancakes – the works. Kelly M asks if she can just lick a pancake and put it back. Someone pipes up that the only thing they can eat on that table is the plant centrepiece. Maurice sits down and eats seven pieces of bacon, as the rest of them choose whole-grain cereal and fruit.
Time for the first challenge! The teams meet up with Caroline at a race track, and find out that they’ll be pulling race cars down a drag strip. At each of the designated spots, they will have to switch drivers – but the catch is that the doors don’t open, forcing the contestants to crawl in the windows. What are they playing for? Well, five pounds of lard of course! Yeah, I was thinking “huh?” too. The five pounds of lard will be added to the losing team’s weight at the weigh-in, which could make a difference in who wins and who has to send someone home.
The race is on, and both teams are neck-and-neck for the entire thing. The Blue Team ends up winning by about three feet, and they celebrate loudly. Maurice says that they already had the Red Team beat, but now their morale is down as well and that makes him happy. Matt is scared that Jillian is going to be mad that they lost.
Lisa sits in the kitchen crying, saying that she’s hungry and she doesn’t know what to eat. She thinks she just over ate chicken because she doesn’t know how many ounces it was. She thinks maybe she’s just not eating enough and her blood sugaar is low – she doesn’t know. She sounds broken and exhausted. Enter Jillian, who tells them that the next three days are going to be hell. Privately she tells us that they have to burn 3000 calories per person. She doesn’t want them to sleep, she just wants them to round-robin in the gym. When someone speaks up and says “We’re not going to bed?”, she asks them how badly they want this.
The day before the weigh-in, every person on the Red Team is exhausted after working out for five hours straight, and Jillian is pushing them very hard. Matt says that the longest he’s ever worked out was an hour with a video at home.
The Blue Team is working out just as hard, but I guess watching Bob being sympathetic and understanding with his team doesn’t make as good TV as Jillian yelling at her army.
Kelly Mac says that everyone is anxious about the weigh-in, while Lisa is just tired and cranky. Lizzeth is scared of going home, and scared to stay there. If she goes, she knows it’s because she didn’t try her hardest – but she’s scared of staying because every night she’ll be crying for her family. David admits that he’s not there to get buff for ‘chicks’, because he has a beautiful wife at home. Kelly M hopes her body will hold up because she desperately wants this. Ryan adds that is frustrating because he could be working his butt off the whole time, but if his team loses it’s all for nothing.
It’s time to weigh in, and Caroline says that the Blue Team started off with a total weight of 1537 pounds, while the Red Team started off at 1535 pounds. It’s time to put the Eat More and Eat Less diets to the test.
The weigh-in results are:
Gary – 12 pounds (the result made him want to head back to the gym)
Lisa – 10 pounds (usually takes her 2 months to lose 10 pounds)
Maurice – 13 pounds (he’s disappointed and thought he could do better)
Lizzeth – 3 pounds (she’s enbarassed and wanted to cry)
Kelly Mac – 13 pounds (she’s excited because she felt she worked hard)
Matt – 22 pounds (he’s astounded and looks like a 12-year-old girl who just won a truckload of Barbies)
So far, the Blue Team has lost 38 pounds, and the Red Team has lost 30.
Dana – 5 pounds (she’s nervous)
Dave – 10 pounds (he doesn’t get a comment)
Aaron – 20 pounds (woot! He’s speechless. I like this guy. Go Aaron!)
Kelly M – 15 pounds (she starts to cry and her confidence and drive to win is strong now)
Andrea – 6 pounds (she doesn’t get a comment either)
Ryan – 19 pounds (he feels a great sense of accomplishment and that makes the time away from his family worth it)
After adding the five pounds of lard from the challenge, the Red Team ends up with a total loss of 74 pounds, while the Blue Team lost 69 pounds. That’s pretty impressive no matter how you slice it, but the Blue Team now has to eliminate one of their own.
Maurice can’t believe that his team lost. Aaron says that the tough part of this game is that you build support and then you have to possibly eliminate part of your support system. Gary is in the kitchen with some of the Red Team members, and for some reason he lashes out at them for asking him how he feels about losing. Some parts of this scene must have been edited out, because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. He explains to Andrea that they think he’s with them, but he isn’t. He says that Maurice only lost one more pound than he did, so he’s a clear choice for him. Andrea says the determining factor will be who really wants to be there for a life change. Dana knows that if it comes down to who loses the most weight she’s obviously gone because she’s not going to lsoe as much weight as the rest of them. Kelly Mac tells the rest of the group that she really doesn’t want to go home. Cut to a sequence with sappy theme music that shows the various Blue Team members working out. Dana says she came here to lose 30 pounds, and she’s not going home until she does that.
The Blue Team files into the refrigerator room carrying covered silver platters. They sit down in front of Caroline, who welcomes them to their first elimination. She asks Aaron how he feels, and he says he’s shocked and surprised. He feels badly because he thinks the rest of his team worked harder than he did because he had to stop several times. Caroline asks Dana if she thinks she deserves to stay since she lost the least amount of weight. She does, because she wasn’t expecting to lose a whole lot at the start anyway. Andrea thinks she deserves to stay because she knows what she has to give and she can benefit her team.
Caroline says it is now time to “cut the fat”. (groan) Maurice is first. He lifts the cover on his platter to reveal his vote for Gary. Aaron explains that he’s voting the same way every time with a clear head, and reveals his vote for Dana, telling her that she doesn’t need to lose much, and since she’s so young she can go home and do this for herself. Andrea votes for Dana as well, and Dana votes for Andrea explaining that she feels like a hypocrite because she’s voting for the person who lost the least amount of weight after herself. That’s three votes Dana, one vote Gary, and one vote Andrea. Gary also votes for Dana, which eliminates her from the competition. Kelly Mac’s vote is not revealed.
Caroline tells Dana that she is not the biggest loser, and asks her to leave. She explains that Dana is no longer a part of this game, but advises the team to stay strong and keep up their team spirit.
Dana says that Bob has changed her life, and wants to thank him. She has nothing but good thoughts to leave with. It sucks that she got voted off, but she respects her team’s decisions even if she doesn’t agree with them. She has every intention of going home with everything she’s learned, and will stick to her diet. The next time America sees her, they’re going to break their neck when they turn their heads. A caption at the end of the show reveals that after returning home, Dana lost an additional 15 pounds, got a new job, a new boyfriend, and a new lease on life. Good for you, Dana!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show. I was afraid that the editing would exploit the contestants in the name of ratings, and it does seem that they’ve done that to some extent. But the feelings and heartfelt expressions from the contestants themselves are the saving grace of this program. I felt embarassed and humiliated for them, but their sheer determination and raw honesty made me root for them as well. Let’s hope, for their sake, that NBC has the decency to run the entire series instead of cancelling it at the last minute.
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