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|Written by Leigh Daniels|
|Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:50|
The Biggest Loser is a popular NBC primetime show in its 11th season, and it is in dire need of some correction. The show is based on the premise that overweight (mostly obese) individuals who come to an isolated location (known as the Biggest Loser Ranch) and workout extensively while learning about calorie control will lose enormous amounts of weight. Typically the participants come to the show with a partner and each team is assigned a color. The teams are given resources (two trainers, a fully equipped gym, medical staff) and the motivation (ostensibly to change their lives - but we all know a lot of it is the million dollar prize for the winner) to start their weight loss journey.
Approximately once a week the teams face a weigh-in; each individual gets up on the scale and finds out just how much weight they have lost and this weight loss is compared to their starting weight on the show or their weight from the previous week. There are a variety of variations the outcome of the weigh-in can end in, but the true consequence is that someone will be voted to go home. The person left at the end of the season who has lost the highest percentage of weight loss wins. If you're wondering about the people who have been voted out of the show along the way, they're still playing for a $100,000 at home prize. Sounds simple, right?
In addition, each week the teams face various challenges including keeping up with the intense workouts set for them by the trainers as well as some competitive challenges with rewards like money, a car, or "weight loss", extra pounds added to your weight loss amount for the week. Sometimes there is a "temptation" where individuals are tempted by foods that are not part of a healthy diet and often are picked with the contestants specifically in mind. Does someone have a weak spot when it comes to cheesecake? Well cue the racks cheesecake in their favorite flavor. The trainers (and we assume some off-camera staff) help them figure out what they should be eating and what kind of exercise they should be doing. Many of the previous contestants have reported the experience to be life-changing and the show has certainly provided us with some spectacular weight-loss results.
I will admit I'm not a long-time Biggest Loser watcher or fan. I only started watching a couple of seasons ago. I think that the show has the potential to be inspiring television, there are a few things I think the producers get wrong. Below I have written a letter to the NBC executives outline what I think needs to be done to take The Biggest Loser from medium-ok to awesome.
In my short time watching your reality-ish television show, The Biggest Loser, I have come to notice that you have done several things wrong with the show. Allow me to highlight the biggest offences and hopefully you can use this information to improve future seasons.
First of all, your show is too long. You have packed 45 minutes of material into 2 full hours. Let's face it, the viewing populace can only handle so many minutes of contestants soaked in sweat, of a trainer helping someone having a breakthrough, or watching the scale settle on someone's weight (more on that below). You could easily fit the amount of material that anyone is actually interested in into about 42 minutes - and fancy that! That is exactly the length of the average 1-hour show, minus commercials! In that extra hour maybe you could bring back Law and Order.
Second, do not use the trainer's tips part of the show for product placement. Product placement is hokey and you can always tell exactly what is going on because everyone's acting becomes very forced. Instead, stock the house with items from companies willing to pay to have them there and if the contestants or trainers choose to use them we will all know it's because they actually wanted to and not because they are contractually obligated to show a particular product for a certain length of time.
Because we all know the basic format of the show and it has been airing for many seasons there is no need to entice watchers with stupid gimmicks. This criticism applies specifically to the current season of The Biggest Loser where for the first 4 weeks of the show they split the contestants into two groups, the "knowns" and the "unknowns". The knowns were working with Bob and Jillian, icons of The Biggest Loser show, while the unknowns were working with... gasp! Two new trainers! Obviously the show is in real danger losing one of their popular trainers (Jillian Michaels recently announced this season would be her last) and needed to come up with a replacement. Unfortunately for the new trainers they were kept a secret for the first 4 weeks with all the accompanying fake build-up they could pack in about who they were. Finally they were revealed to be Brad and Cara, two perfectly ordinary trainers. While I'm sure they are good, they certainly didn't live up to the expectation the show built up over several weeks. Just show us the trainers and let us start to like them. People like what they know, and given that Jillian is going to be difficult to replace it would have been wise to break us in early.
Finally, the biggest time waster on the show has got to be what has been termed the everlasting meat scale by my sister. If you've seen the show, you know what I'm talking about here. It's the display on the giant scale that contestants weigh-in on and it really is everlasting. Designed to make the outcome of the weigh-in just a little more dramatic it ticks through a range of weights before finally settling on the contestant's current weight. It is basically ridiculous because it 1) goes on forever, and 2) goes through a range of weights that is totally stupid. We all know the contestants did not lose or gain 50 pounds in a single week! Cutting the everlasting meat scale to a reasonable length of time (a couple seconds, max) and to a believable range (let's say 5 pounds above or below their actual weight loss) would make the show a lot less annoying.
These are some simple ways that The Biggest Loser could be changed for the better. The idea for the show is solid, and there have been some truly inspiring moments in the short time I have been a viewer. You don't need cheap gimmicks to attract viewers, especially given that obesity has become a serious problem for many people. Cut the fat in this bloated show and let us enjoy people transforming their lives.
Tags: 2 hours is 2 long, biggest loser, correction, everlasting meat scale, extra gum, jennie o turkey, nbc, obesity, so much sweat, tv