According to our sources [at www.google.com], approximately 600,000 viewers tuned in to each episode of The Biggest Loser this week. So this is our initial response to the haterz (who gonna hate, hate, hate) who made the false claim that, and we quote, “no one watches this shit”.
While we don’t condone the existence of this show any more than you do, Mr Wise internet person, the reality is that hundreds of thousands of people are watching it, and to our knowledge, only two are watching it ironically. Which brings us to our next point:
Wise person of the internet, we have a question for you. How do these so-called ‘ratings’ work? If we watch The Biggest Loser on one TV, are we counted as one person or two? How does our television know who is watching it? Our dog watches it most of the time but he is also sleeping – does he count as a viewer? Are we being… watched by our television? Do they know we’re eating Maltesers? HOWMUCHDOTHEYKNOW.
While we wait for (inevitable) feedback from Señor Wise, we should probably discuss The Biggest Loser this week.
It begins with the cattle contestants pulling an aeroplane, to try to win the privilege of a 5kg weight penalty that can be given to a team of their choice. This is an attempt to make weight loss look like a fun family game ☺. We have to ask though, if you win a competition where you’re dragging a 30 tonne ‘neptune bomber’ plane down the runway, have you really won anything at all?
The contestants literally resemble a horse and cart, which is problematic for a few reasons.
1) The plane has… an engine… and there is no fundamental need for it to be dragged by an obese family on national television, whilst being shouted at by trainers in crop tops.
2) We don’t even do this to horses anymore.
3) Contrary to what the producers would have us believe, the contestants are PEOPLE not ANIMALS.
As the recipients of the 5kg weight penalty, the Blue Team had already had a pretty bad day by the time they got to the gym. But it quickly became clear that something even worse was about to happen.
Shannan (very patronisingly) commentates “getting on and off a treadmill is one of the easiest things you can do in a gym”, which means, you guessed it, a contestant is about to stack it off the treadmill.
We would also like to remind Shannan that there are several things one could do in a gym that are easier than getting on and off a treadmill. Our personal fav (for all you fitness junkies) is walking out of the gym #fitspo, closely followed by sitting on the floor of the gym, or staring at a wall. All are easier than the treadmill, which no sane person remotely enjoys.
Long story short, wait it’s not a long story, Mel is thrown off the back of a treadmill onto the wall, and Channel 10 chose to air it because it is obviously a crucial moment in her weight loss journey. Not because it is humiliating, painful to watch, or downright exploitative.
Is it bad that we think they might have… tampered with the….
Just as Mel’s ‘last chance’ training session sends the very troubling message that exercise for overweight people has to be humiliating, Terry’s session sends the message that it has to make you sick. Terry LITERALLY vomits during his training session. In the quote of the series thus far, Shannan yells, “no-one ever died of queasy guts!”
A distinction seriously needs to be made between gradually losing weight for added health benefits and wellbeing, and rapidly losing weight at all costs, for money.
Because the latter, to us, sounds strangely (exactly) like an eating disorder.
Physical exercise… shouldn’t make you vomit. But hey, weight loss also shouldn’t be a competition, so what did we expect. In a week where one contestant lost 17.4kg, and another lost 10 per cent of his body weight, it really is important to consider the serious side of The Biggest Loser.
Competitive dieting is a well-researched risk factor for dangerous weight loss behaviours, and surely the risk is even greater when there is $200,000 at stake. When the difference between ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ can be a few hundred grams, it isn’t completely unimaginable, in fact, it is almost a prerequisite, that they would practice disordered eating.
Add to that the fact that people with a history of obesity are predisposed to develop eating disorders, and you’ve got a recipe (mmm recipe) for a lifelong battle with your body.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognises four types of eating disorders, and primarily defines them in terms of weight preoccupation, fear of fat, and a sense of self that is excessively influenced by weight and shape concerns. Isn’t that literally the premise of The Biggest Loser? It’s also the criteria for being a female in 2015, but that’s a whole other bag of chips (we just made that analogy up… mmm… chips).
Ultimately, The Biggest Loser represents an environment where fat itself is pathologised.
It was a jam-packed week in The Biggest Loser house (mmm… jam), so we thought we’d provide you with some highlights for those of you that missed it because you were busy doing something that doesn’t exploit obese Australian families.
Tiffiny repeatedly jumps on the back of contestants and makes them run around like a rodeo or something. Our analysis is that it is dehumanising and degrading but mostly just weird.
Sam gets offered $20,000 to leave the house, because Channel 10 wants everyone to know that overweight people are greedy for both food AND money. In considering whether or not to take the money, she reflects that it is enough money to put a deposit on a house. We know very little about this thing they call ‘adulting’, but where, in this ridiculously overpriced country, is $20,000 a deposit on a house?
Like, it’s better than a punch in the face, but it ain’t gonna buy no house. Also – we think she was the same one who said that she would never make $200,000 in her life. We officially found someone worse at adulting than we are – RESPECT.
A special mention goes to ‘The Game’, which is difficult to explain. Wait, no it’s not. It’s a game that they play which has winners, losers and fat people in cages. We just can’t believe that they couldn’t even be bothered to make up a title… It’s like when we forgot to name our cat and then it just became ‘Cat’. It’s slack, and frankly disappointing for a show we weren’t aware we couldn’t be anymore disappointed in.
Oh yes, we can’t forget the contestants rolling around in mud. This week began with contestants resembling horses, and ended with them resembling pigs in their challenge for immunity. How degrading is rolling around in mud? Again, we have to ask; if you won immunity by crying and screaming in a pit of mud, have you even… you get the idea.
Finally, the ultimate highlight for this week has to be the unravelling of the Blue Team, who have had fights that we are ashamed to admit are awfully, awfully familiar. The difference is that we probably wouldn’t display our dysfunctional relationships to close family members, while theirs has been broadcast Australia-wide.
In what has to be one of the #realest scenes on Australian television, the Pestell family have a pretty significant fight following an unsuccessful outcome in ‘The Game’ (reminder: it’s a game). As is often the case when you’re frustrated and trying to articulate the reason why in front of several strangers and their cameras, a flustered Jodie yells to her apparently uncooperative sister, “maybe if you believed in us… we might have done somethin!”
It’s a line we’re doubtful she is proud of. It didn’t need to be televised. But it’s just so #real, we wish to have it blown up and hung on our walls.
Until next week, happy watching, and remember:
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