Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Biggest Loser is off to an inspiring start
Biggest Loser trainers Bob and Jillian
OK,here's what I'm picturing. After the last couple of seasons of NBC's The Biggest Loser, the show's honchos and powers-that-be are around the conference table.
"All right. Obviously we need to make some changes," says one.
"Yep," says another. "E-mails, letters and online forums are telling us that our core audience HATES the drama, the nastiness, the underhandedness and game-playing that has become the norm on the show."
"Agreed," another comments with a sigh. "Looks like the kind of people who watch the show the most--our loyal core audience-- are the kind of people who are turned off by manipulation, sneakiness and outright hatefulness."
"Ya think?" pipes up another. "Not to mention profanity-laced tirades that have to be bleeped every couple of seconds. We're getting e-mails saying they no longer let their kids watch the show with them."
"So what do we do?"
"Well, let's start giving viewers what they really want. Inspiration by the bucketloads. Motivation to change their lives, because, let's face it, a LOT of the people watching are overweight, and desperately want to make positive changes in their health and fitness."
"So what's causing most of the drama?" the original guy queries.
"Obviously, the competition between the teams of Bob and Jillian."
"How do we solve that?"
"Eliminate the Bob vs Jillian competition by having them work together to coach the contestants?"
"Brilliant!" says the second honcho. "But reality shows are all about competition and friction. Where's the drama if they're not working against each other?"
"Oh, believe me, there'll be other little dramas. When you get a group of people together, they're not all going to like each other all the time. There'll be enough friction to keep us going."
"I've got another idea!" pipes up the guy who thought of having Bob and Jillian work together. "Why don't we give the contestants challenges in which they have to work as a team? Things that foster a spirit of unity and cooperation?"
"Hmmm. You might have something there."
"Well, let's give it a try, anyway."
Maybe there was no such conference room exchange, but I would imagine I'm pretty close. The result? The best start to a Biggest Loser season that I've ever seen.
The contestants are almost all genuinely likable; several are downright lovable. Some, like Abby who lost her husband, 5-year-old daughter and 2-week-old son, have heartbreaking backstories that make you root for them every step of the way.
Some, like Rebecca and Amanda, are just funny and cute. (My 24-year-old nephew, watching the show with me last night, said, "Wow, those girls are really attractive.")
Whatever the producers have done to keep me watching, it's working. The Biggest Loser is a high point of my week. I look forward to watching the transformations of these people.
I find it refreshing that there's not a detestable villainess like Vicky, or a sneaky manipulator like--wow, I've totally forgotten the name of the Don Corleone guy from last season.
Of course, it's possible that the show will veer back to its past ways of setting everyone at each other's throats and manufacturing, or at least showcasing, drama-ridden situations that foster ugliness and nastiness.
I hope not. Because for me, at least, this formula is working in a major way. Keep it up, Biggest Loser honchos!