Each week, Clare and Jessie Stephens bring you the latest takeaway messages from Channel 10’s The Biggest Loser.
We know this is usually a critical analysis of The Biggest Loser and the problematic representation of large bodies. We think it is important to deconstruct the harmful ways in which fat is stigmatised in our society, and the cultural assumptions we make about individuals based on their weight. And we PROMISE we will get to that. But first:
Mel… has a crush… on Pablo.
It’s like The Bachelor, but more authentic because their relationship isn’t manufactured. They just found love in this #hopelessplace.
It’s potentially the most exciting thing to happen on The Biggest Loser this season, and offers some respite from all the boring exercise, bland food and nonsensical competitions.
It is highly likely that the producers have used some clever editing to make one small comment, and a few facial expressions, into the story of the season. It is equally as likely that the monotony of the show has led us to blow the entire situation out of proportion.
BUT MAYBE, just maybe, this is a modern day Romeo and Juliet. With Mel from the Blue team, and Pablo from the Red team – a forbidden love, if you will.
As Shakespeare wrote: “Two households, both alike in (lack of) dignity (see last weeks mudpit), in fair Verona (aka Terrey Hills), where we lay our scene.”
Just like in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s love was revealed part way through a weigh-in when she heard Romeo’s heartbreaking confession that, at nearly 30, he had never had a romantic relationship.
The Biggest Loser thrives on these stories. It fits with their carefully constructed narrative of fat as tragedy. Fat inevitably results in failure and misery, and those who are overweight or obese fundamentally miss out on the most important things in life; romantic love, marriage, family, friendship, and meaningful work.
This season we have Jodie, who, despite being in a long-term relationship, and her partner having purchased a ring, refuses to walk down the aisle at this weight.
We have Sylvia, who believes that she actually is not a mother because of her weight.
We have Moses, who believes he has failed as a role model for his younger brother Johnee.
(As a side note, if anyone ever loves us like Moses loves his wife Rina, and Johnee loves his wife Tenealle, we will die happy people)
And we have Mel, who says she doesn’t have any friends on the outside, and has never had a partner.
The contestants are drawing on the cultural narratives that are available to them. These include stories of weight loss being synonymous with increased happiness, self-confidence, and relationship prospects. It is as though anything negative within their lives is the direct result of their weight, and in turn, will disappear when they lose it.
So when Pablo stood on the scales, losing almost 5kg this week, the producers thought they would showcase what happens when you lose weight: people fall in love with you.
Fiona prompted: “How do you think you’re going to feel when you reach your goal weight?” to which Pablo replied, “Gonna feel attractive…to a female of some sort”.
And in the editor’s office, they decided that female would be…Mel.
Pablo continued: “In high school I would think at 25, I’d have a family and a career. Now I’m almost 30… I’m really hoping that person will come along”.
The producers promptly rushed her out of the room, to ask her what she thought of this ‘Pablo’ character.
She responded: “I know what Pablo means. He’s certainly got a lot to offer, any girl, so yeah, he is nice.”
We’ll repeat that:
“He is nice”.
AWW. Can’t we abandon The Biggest Loser crap and throw them both on that Married At First Sight show? Cut the exercise, we want to see these two sit down for a romantic candlelit dinner.
“Yeah. He is nice”.
In the same episode, Mel says, “I don’t think anyone would be willing to date me”.
The notion that someone is unlovable because they are obese is not only absurd, but also seriously problematic. It suggests that one’s body is equivalent to one’s value as a human being.
In Week 1, we saw that overweight people are understood to be tragic, sad, hating themselves, embarrassing, in denial, ashamed, unworthy of marriage, unattractive, devoid of self esteem, bad role models, disgusting and OF COURSE lazy. We can now add ‘unlovable’ to that list.
At the very least, applying such characteristics to a population of human beings is… rude, and at most, it’s discriminatory. It has been said that hate towards fat bodies is the last acceptable form of discrimination. The fact that The Biggest Loser airs three times a week is a testament to our cultural apathy towards fatphobia.
Our point is that The Biggest Loser is using the (potential) love story of Mel and her fair Pablo to demonstrate that love is only possible once the weight loss journey has begun. Now that they have committed to losing the excess fat, love is finally on the horizon.
Unfortunately, the love appears somewhat unrequited at the moment, as Pablo has literally shown no interest in Mel. We have a feeling this love story won’t end as a fairytale. As Shakespeare wrote, “for never was a story of more woe than this of Mel and her Pablo…”
Anyway, we digressed. This week began with Sylvia still in hospital, only to return to the competition with a torn ligament, and a very hectic looking boot on her left foot.
Not to fear – ‘qualified’ doctors Tiffiny Hall and Shannan Ponton said that she was capable of exercise, and so worked her on a bike before throwing her in a sandpit. She complained of having sand in her boot, which we’re pretty sure was meant to make her look like a lazy whinger, but we sympathised because that would be extremely uncomfortable.
To rub salt (shortly after the sand) in the wound, they sent her sister Kayla home, who opened up last week about losing her long-term boyfriend in a car crash three months ago.
With one sister sent home, and another seriously injured, Tiffiny decided to punish them all in the gym. This had us wondering, just as a side note, why don’t they ever play competitive sport, or like… fun games on this show? Why does it always have to be push-ups and running with tyres and freezing cold swimming pools? How about a game of… basketball? You know… fun exercise?
Anyway, like some sort of sick torture method, Tiffiny insisted that each contestant continually repeat the mantra “I LOVE THIS” whilst putting their body through tremendous pain.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a week of The Biggest Loser without a mid session emergency vomit! So, while Tiffiny was yelling ‘I LOVE THIS’, Cliff inevitably “pushed himself” too hard and threw up the five nuts he had for breakfast. Rather than an apology, Tiffiny issued a congratulations, and reflected that Cliff had finally ‘got it’.
But seriously, WHAT THE HELL ARE WE WATCHING!?
A special mention goes to the highlight of television this week across the nation, and most probably across the world: the fight between Shannan and his team.
We don’t know if this fight is on Youtube, but it needs to be on Youtube. It was honestly more intense than Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.
We rewatched it at least four times. There was swearing, extremely inarticulate arguments, Jodie refusing to stand up, and Shannan discovering that despite his best efforts, he cannot fix fat people everywhere.
And finally, perhaps the most inexplicable part of The Biggest Loser to date, was the fact that Cliff looked like this:
On that note, see you next week, where we hope Mel and her fair Pablo elope from the house and create a new show. Uh oh. Oh no. We’ve found the new Kardashians.
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