NBC (a network w/ lackluster ratings), is a big winner with The Biggest Loser. So, why did this show bring in such impressive ratings for its finale last Wednesday night? One might argue the spectacle of witnessing dramatic and inspirational human transformation – or simply the spectacle.
NBC executives announced last year that their show would inspire millions of fat Americans to get off the couch and get fit, the old fashioned way â through diet and exercise. However, the last time I checked, most over-fat Americans arenât weighing themselves on a gigantic scale in front of millions of television viewers wearing spandex 4 sizes to small (to magnify their obesity) or, in the case of the men, with shirts off so cameras could zoom in on their stretch marks and girth – all for a potential payout of a quarter million dollars.
When attempting to lose weight or get healthy, most of us donât get up in the morning to a buffet of doughnuts and pizza just to âtempt our resolveâ, or compete in daily relay races which might include downing milk shake shots. On the fitness side of things, getting âoff the couchâ is a far cry from intense (at times seemingly dangerous) workouts conducted daily by two celebrity fitness trainers for hours on end.
And the message? Fat people are willing to trade their dignity for a chance at losing weight because that’s how desperately they want it, and NBC is just cynical and greedy enough to make it happen. How inspirational.
I debated whether I’d comment on “The Biggest Loser”, because there is so much about the premise of this show I found distasteful. But, after witnessing at least part of the finale last week, no matter how manipulative I may have found the show to be, I couldn’t help but be happy for all of the contestants (who lost hundreds of pounds). Most of them making mind-blowing transformations in their bodies and no doubt most of them transformed emotionally. And for someone who’s been there, it was hard not to feel empathy, sympathy and joy all at once for these folks. Watching their pure elation, joy and sense of accomplishment left me feeling nothing but happy for them.
The question is, will NBC have the guts to do a five year follow up and just to see how they coped in the real world. For their sake, I hope they stay fit and healthy because we’d all want that for them, no matter how they got there.