I’m Mad As Hell And I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore!

By Cindy Bishop on 12/01/2009
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old tvFor 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?

5 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Marsha says:

    In my humble opinion, they’re willing to go pretty far. They also exemplify the insanity our society continues to support — how could anyone at this point think that an approach that leads to dramatic weight yo-yoing is going to help people be healthier?? I know a lot of people love this show but down the line, will anyone be better off for it? We can hope so but I have my doubts.

  • I think networks go as far as they need to for the sake of ratings. They think it fits into their philosophy because of how many viewers they have and how many products are being bought.

    Yes, I watch the biggest loser. Has it inspired me to lose weight? In a way, yes. It has inspired me to do it in a slow healthy way. It has inspired me to start exercising and paying attention to my body.

    The show however shows the insane reliance on hope of a quick fix that keeps the yo-yo bobbing up and down. It shows how society thinks that quick is the way to go and it unfortunately fills the stereotype if you aren’t losing weight quick, you are lazy.

    It has inspired me to learn more about HEALTHY living rather than the focus on the scale. That is what I blog about like so many of the rest of us. But you can’t fit that reality into one television show
    .-= Julie – Big Girl Bombshell’s last blog post..Getting to the CORE =-.

  • Cindy says:

    Thank you for this! No doctor on the planet would tell anyone to lose weight this way.

    The show did have a special program last week where they followed up on past contestants and only a few have kept the originial weight off while most have gained at least some back. At least one gained it all back. Many of the contestants who have kept most of the weight off have done so by becoming personal trainers so they can continue with the working out all day long.

    I believe that whatever you do to lose weight is what you have to keep doing to keep it off. Real life is not 6 hours of exercise every day with celebrity trainers yelling at you and telling you what to eat.
    .-= Cindy’s last blog post..Daily Disciplines =-.

  • Cindy says:

    One of the other issues which concerns me is what appears to be a blatant disregard for the contestant’s ability to determine exertion. As though a fat person has no ability to tap into their own percieved exertion. When they’re red in the face, sweating profusely, huffing and puffing (some even in tears), and saying, that’s enough! It’s simply the cue to take them even further. In the name of inspiration? Motivation? Insanity? Just buck up and give me 20 more!

    The next thing you know, someone’s being air-lifted to the hospital.

  • [...] Nor can most of us exercise at an intensity and with a frequency only the super-committed (aka Biggest Loser stars) can adhere to (at least while they’re on tv).  And very sadly, even undergoing weight [...]

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