Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stuff I Shouldn’t Care About: The Biggest Loser Finale

OMFG. Season… I don’t know what season this is… of the Biggest Loser ends tonight. Set your DVRs! Holy shit!

Confession time: I’m hooked on this show, if only in a love/hate kind of way. I hate the first weeks of the show, which tend to focus on extremely overweight people falling off treadmills and crying. It’s exploitive, bottom line. I hate when Jillian tries to play therapist to each and every contestant. Sure, I love Jillian, but the Dr. Michaels routine seems like it could end up in a lawsuit considering she’s not a mental health professional. And I hate the way they shoehorn multiple product placements into each two hour-long episode (I also hate that the episodes are two hours long) by showcasing the contestants being “taught” how to “use” things like “Subway sandwiches” and “Jenny-O turkey.”

But I still tune in, DVR-style, so I can fast forward through the sappy heart-to-hearts with the trainers and the bullshit tutorials on how to use Extra brand gum as part of a healthy weight loss plan. I do enjoy seeing the contestants, once they stop falling off the treadmills, transform. I love watching them realize that they are stronger than they thought they were. I love seeing them run the “Biggest Loser Marathon,” which the show has now staged three times (and mark my words, in the near future you and I will have the opportunity to sign up for a Biggest Loser-branded marathon).

This season has been pretty good because the majority of the contestants have been likable. The confirmed final two contestants are: Ashley and Mike. Ashley, the largest female contestant every included on the show, seems like a bit of a reformed party girl, but definitely nice. Mike is from Chicago, and he is the largest male contestant every included on the show. Mike is practically giddy about his weight loss/new life, which is beginning to remind me of an ex-boyfriend who gained then lost a lot of weight and acted a little crazy for awhile. He (the ex-boyfriend) had a lot of feelings. But Mike seems like a good guy. I’d be happy to see him or Ashley win.

Then there are two contestants who are battling it out to be in the finale. America votes! We decide their fate! Etc.! You can vote for Koli, who seemed OK at first but has become a little less… um… personable over the final weeks of the show. During the time the contestants went home for thirty days, Koli temporary moved to Vegas because… wait? What? Why the hell did he do that? No one knows. He needed to “focus” or something. He was living in an apartment with like 14 guys. What was up with that? How does that help one “focus?”

Or you could vote for Daris, the nice kid from the south who ran the Biggest Loser Marathon in four hours. Four hours! Holy shit! I can only dream of a marathon time like that. What an athlete! What an inspiration! Oh… but he gained two pounds at their final weigh in. Jillian and Bob saw this weight gain and went a little batshit crazy on his ass.

Now, maybe you’ve trained for a marathon. Maybe you haven’t. Jillian and Bob, well, they fall into that second category. Now, Daris admitted that he was staying up snacking in the middle of the night, and yes, he probably shouldn’t have done that, but when you train for a marathon—especially the first time you train for a marathon—you are hungry. In many (most) cases, you do not lose weight. Sometimes, you gain a little weight. That is truth.

Now I see very clearly where Daris made his mistake: He chose to train for a marathon, rather than train for The Biggest Loser. Training to be the winner of The Biggest Loser is more about sticking to 1200 or 1500 calories or whatever their individual food plan is. It’s less about endurance athletic training. That’s why Speedy D literally smoked the rest of the field during the marathon. The next person to finish was a full two hours behind Daris, and clearly hurting way more than Daris.

I cast my vote. I did. I logged on to NBC.com and voted for Daris because I really think he’s a pretty great kid who doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s usually worth hearing. And, I’ve taken a few “pulse checks” on the Internet to see which way the tide is flowing. It seems close, but as much as I don’t want to admit it, I think Koli is going to win America’s support.

Now herein lies the problem with The Biggest Loser. First of all, many of these contestants will gain back some, if not all, of their weight back. But if I was a betting (wo)man, I’d put my money on the kid who set and reached a goal of running a four hour marathon as the someone who is more likely to lead a healthy and active life over the long term. The Biggest Loser really isn’t about that though. The Biggest Loser, at the very core of it’s being, is about obese people losing as much weight as humanly possibly as fast as humanly possible (a concept that gets redefined every season). It’s not about being as healthy as possible. Now I don’t doubt that many of these contestants will be turned on to more active lifestyles, but that’s not what the grand prize rewards. The grand prize rewards weight loss, not miles run, not marathon times, not love of the game (a game other than The Biggest Loser).

I’m Team Daris. You should be too.

So, that’s my Biggest Loser Rant. You are welcome.