For someone who doesn’t watch The Biggest Loser, I certainly do write a lot about it.
Five years ago, I posed the question, “Would NBC have the guts to follow up Biggest Loser contestants five years post treatment.” (Ok, ‘treatment’ might be stretching it, but they do advise and treat contestants, don’t they?) Regardless, the answer seems to be a resounding ‘no’. Shocking.
An article published in the NY Times last week lambastes The Biggest Loser for turning a blind eye to unhealthy practices which have recently (on their first show of the season no less), landed contestants in the hospital.
This dramatic turn of events was, of course, the impetus for past contestants to come out of the woodwork and hang NBC’s dirty laundry out to dry.
From the NY Times article:
“Kai Hibbard, who lost 118 pounds and finished as her season’s runner-up, weighed 144 pounds at the show’s finale. On her MySpace she wrote that she added 31 pounds in two weeks, most of it simply by drinking water. It has been reported that the winners of the first four seasons of the show each have added at least 20 percent to their weight at the end of the show.”
I’m sure there’s tremendous pressure to have a hit show, and granted I don’t live in a TV ratings kinda world, but at what cost — a human life? Not to get overly dramatic, but does anyone remember the movie Network? (Ah, Howard Beale, one of the greatest fictional characters of modern time). Doesn’t really seem that far-fetched anymore does it?
It’s hard to believe that there’s anyone producing this show that’s looking beyond ratings. JD Roth, an executive producer of the series admitted the show was extreme, but added, “it needs to be extreme in my opinion.”
And his opinion matters, why? And this:
“For some of these people this is their last chance, and in a country right now that is wrestling with health care issues and the billions of dollars that are spent on obesity issues per year, in a way what a public service to have a show that inspires people to be healthier.”
Obviously, NBC has an immense and powerful legal department – and one thing I will say for them, they’re not risk-adverse.
How far do you think a network is willing to go to get ratings?