Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I gave up on The Biggest Loser

I remember back in the day, as a kid, I really liked to watch the Olympics. It was all sports, and so maybe a bit odd that a young girl would thrill to watch ski jumping, luging, or swimming and diving. Sure, I liked gymnastics and ice skating, too. I liked it all. I remember watching Bruce Jenner win Gold in the decathalon in 1976.

Those were the days. The Olympics could be completely explained in that immortal phrase: The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.

I cant' watch major network coverage of the Olympics these days. They've ruined them with sob stories. I never watched the Olympics to hear about athletes' personal struggles and tragedies; and most certainly not to have those personal stories overshadow the athlete who happens to be winning the event!

The Olympics used to be a sporting competition. Now it's just another reality television show. Now it's the thrill of overcoming, and the agony of life--please. Just run the damn race. (Thank gawd for cable tv.)

There used to be a show on called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. No, it's not the one with the same name that's on now. This show was all about taking a house that needed repair and upgrading--booting out the family for a while--and remodeling it. It was about the remodel.

The show on now, with the same name, is all about the family. It's no longer about finding a bad house; it's about finding a deserving family. It's no longer about watching what architects, builders, and designers can do with a certain space; now it's about the poor, poor family and how much they deserve this makeover.

I don't watch that show anymore.

And I don't watch The Biggest Loser anymore, either. I have no idea who won last night. I tried to watch it, flipping over occasionally during commercials in Storage Wars. But everytime I tuned in, we were watching some interlude about the struggles of a contestant. Maybe they weren't interludes; maybe the entire two-hour extravaganza was sob stories.

When The Biggest Loser first aired, it was a game show with fat people. It was fascinating to watch, not because of the personal tragedies or struggles of these people off the ranch, but because of the diet and exercise, game-play, and weight loss (or gain) on the ranch. It was a great show. And it was only an hour long.

Now it's a two-hour long sob fest. No, it's more than that. It wasn't enough to bring in the contestants personal lives, their relationship struggles, their psychological road blocks, etc. They had to let the viewer hear from the contestants about each and every minute detail of the show.

A challenge? Let's hear the thoughts of several contestants regarding it. Are they up for it? Are they excited about it? Do they have a strategy? Are they worried they won't do well?

Who the fuck cares? Just get on with the challenge!

The little advertising segments are stupid enough (where one of the trainers comes in casually as if it isn't scripted at all, and asks a simple question, like, "What's for breakfast?" and ends up making Quaker Instant Oatmeal)--give us all a break--but the inevitable trainer/contestant emotional showdown/breakdown is nothing short of embarrassing.

Trainers are supposed to train you, not psychoanalize you--not try to get at the core of why you're fat--not do everything they can to make you cry on national television because that's what's going to make you lose weight. It's all bullshit.

I can't watch The Biggest Loser anymore. It's not about making the show devoid of personal issues--it's about focus. The focus has shifted away from losing weight against big odds, to the personal sob stories of each contestant.

This is exactly the problem with Tim Tebow. We don't care about him--his Christianity, his near-death experience (nearly being aborted), his prayers--we just want to watch football!

If they ruin football like they did the Olympics, we are completely lost as a nation.