Dear Biggest Loser,
You used to be my guilty pleasure. Yes, I realize people living in the “real world” can’t work out seven or eight hours per day while maintaining full-time careers, families, volunteer responsibilities…you get the picture. Nevertheless, I was inspired by the dramatic weight loss you spotlighted week after week. I admired those who over time learned to replace bingeing with healthy coping skills. Some of these people live with memories the likes of which I can’t imagine: the deaths of spouses and children, child abuse, alcoholic parents. I enjoyed watching contestants amaze themselves by the speeds they could handle on the treadmill. Granted the weekly, lengthy challenge was my signal to go upstairs and make myself a cup of Sleepytime Extra herb tea, but nothing’s perfect.
But the most recent season really worked my nerves. If things don’t change, I’ll seek inspiration elsewhere. Here are my suggestions for getting your show back on the tracks:
Lose the high drama. I realize these contestants have used food…and lots of it…as a coping mechanism. They experience withdrawal from abruptly coming off of sugar. I know what sugar withdrawal feels like and trust me, I was no fun to be around while going through it. Contestants will not be at their best, but you don’t have to reward the worst behaved with extra screen time (think Conda). Conversely, when a contestant became super-stressed because her husband asked her to leave the ranch and you filmed her huge binge, you showed viewers the ugly truth about what disordered eating can look like. You may have helped other binge eaters take a hard look at their behavior and decide to make a change. I hope so.
Contestants, be thankful. You have received an incredible opportunity. You were chosen from countless applicants. You managed to put together a support team to care for your children and cover for you at work. Many people would give anything to be in your place. Don’t quit the show because things didn’t go the way you thought they should. You signed a legal document; keep your commitment. That’s what people of honor do. And for those of you who don’t quit, remember your fellow contestants bring emotional baggage to the ranch, just like you do. Show some compassion.
Bob Harper, act like a gentleman and lose the f-bombs. You’re a fellow Tennessean; make me proud. I really liked you when you were the “good cop” positioned against Jillian’s “bad cop.” Dolvett seems like a nice guy. It’s ok to have two nice guys serve as trainers. Really, it’s fine. I was so disappointed when you spent precious air time complaining that Dolvett stole your workout routines. If you copyrighted those routines (can routines even be copyrighted?) then perhaps you have a legitimate gripe, but in that episode you behaved like a child. I think you’re better than that.
Dolvett Quince, don’t ever feel the need to become a “bad cop.” Stay authentic. Don’t use language that requires bleeping. It’s unnecessary and it’s unbecoming.
I know you won’t adopt my suggestions for fear of creating a boring show. But America is getting fatter and sicker every year. If things don’t change we will bankrupt our country. You are in a position to inspire people to address eating disorders, to make healthy choices, to reduce the medications they take. But if you take my advise and you lose viewers…
Shame on us.