The Biggest Loser, which follows obese contestants as they compete to lose the highest percentage of their body weight, has an inspirational bent, a you-can-do-it, feel-good appeal that's supposed to motivate viewers to also get up off their lazy you-know-whats. So why was last night's episode so depressing?
The abbreviated show (apparently the presidential address was more important than the final weigh-in!) found the various couple teams merging into two larger teams, and many contestants were switched from their usual trainer to the other. Buff female trainer Jillian’s tough love verges on comedy. "I don't care if you're going to faint, do another rep," is a common phrase. Bob is yoga-loving, nurturing, and incorporates mental exercises into his regimens. Contestants gets very attached to their trainers (they work out for over four hours a day), but when the new teams were announced last night, the outrage and hysterics were completely over-the-top. Helen, a 47-year-old engineer, couldn't stop crying about losing Bob. Mandi and Aubrey, overweight friends from Idaho, were so scared to leave Jillian that they, too, were crying. And Sione, a 27-year-old landscaper, refused to take off his hood for the entirety of the episode, so upset was he to be without Bob. "When Jillian pushes me, I'm just not going to try," he said. Oh, stop.
The implication became clear over the hour: If something small can so easily derail these people, how will they be able to maintain their lower weights without Jillian or Bob? The episode ended without an elimination; that will come tonight. But our hopes have forever taken a hit, and our motivation to get off the couch ourselves remains at exactly zero. That punning title doesn’t seem so playful, after all.