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TBD10: Half Baked —

March 11, 2013

Biggest Dickweed

Trigger warning: This post thoroughly discusses an episode The Biggest Loser, including the abusive bullshit as well as the weigh-ins.

I’m out of my league in the world of fashion.

If I had my druthers, I would pretty much wear this all the time.

My Mother in Law the Hummingbird

Yes, you are tripping.

But I can’t. So I have a modest wardrobe for work which doubles for fancy occasions, but there isn’t much of a fashion “choice” to be made. Khakis and collared shirts (button down for the winter and the polo kind for summer). I work in a professional setting, so I am the most casually dressed person in the office every single day because my work doesn’t require fancy dress.

And when I don’t have to look professional, I’m more likely to wear t-shirt and jeans (or my tye-dye hoodie).

Tototro

FASHIONSTAR!

In the words of the immortal Steve Martin, “And that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one… I need this.”

Downwith this sort of thing

So my opinion on the matter of fashion is very  much suspect from the start. As such, I will try to keep my opinions on the actual fashion part to a minimum. But there’s something kind of eerie about this Makeover Week thing that Biggest Loser, and which is apparently a really big deal. Even though it’s a happy, reunion-type show, there’s still this unsettling current that runs through the show that I won’t have to point out for you to see it.

It’s the most vivid tribute to the Fantasy of Being Thin that I have ever seen.

Episode 10 begins with a dramatic and spirited introduction of the final five: them as they were called out of the audience and then some inspirational thing they said at some point during this season.

“Tonight, it’s the episode that every Biggest Loser contestant strives for,” Allison Sweeney says.

Danni says to the camera, “This is the day to be part of this show.”

Then we see a montage (the first of many), which you will see in due time (patience, grasshopper), includes fashion expert Gunn welcoming them to Makeover Week; a former Biggest Loser winner saying “This is how we are going to save America, right here”; a sneak peek at Alex’s new look (and the photographer saying “Oh, that’s beautiful”); and Gina saying, “To actually get to be made up today and get new clothes and get our hair done  and just feel pretty and feel like a girl again, that’s really special to me.”

Finally, there’s a final promise from Sweeney that there’s an ending you won’t want to miss, including this shot.

It's terrible

Hooray! Gina’s sad on the scale! I’m sticking around to the end of the show now!

For those unfamiliar with Gunn, he’s one of the rare fashion people who has not been an outright dick toward fat people. He’s best known for the following comment in Marie Claire:

Have you seen most of the plus-size sections out there? It’s horrifying. Whoever’s designing for plus-size doesn’t get it. The entire garment needs to be reconceived. You can’t just take a size 8 and make it larger… In my travels, I’ve been an advocate for larger women. I’ve been talking to designers, but only a half-dozen make an effort. Most say, “I don’t want a woman who’s a size 10 or 11 wearing my clothes.” Well, shame on you! It’s not realistic. We need to address real women with real needs. At Parsons, we had fit models that ranged in size from 2 to 10. We’ve got to reconceive clothes for all sizes. Sometimes I say, “I’m going to do a clothing line!” I’d love nothing more to respond to those designers who refuse to address it.

Wow, a whole size 10! Incredible! But generally, the part people (myself included) seem to remember is his defense of plus-sized fashion. It seemed fairly supportive given the fashion culture.

And as Lesley Kinzel put it best in her takedown of Gunn’s concept of “aspirational looks” (the looks you “can’t wear right now” as a fat person, which makes aspire to lose weight):

His comments are ultimately the same old body-loathing crap we hear all the time, wrapped up in faux sympathy, and therefore I must take issue with Gunn’s self-applied title of “advocate for larger women” as I believe his words do those women more harm than good. Especially when Gunn says of one woman on the new show, “…she’d been overweight her entire life and never known a normal, slim and sexy body.” (Emphasis mine.)

When I hear that Tim Gunn was in this episode, I was expecting the former, but what I saw was the latter. It was really disappointing because up to this point, I really liked and respected him. As with any celebrity who turns out to be kind of a dick toward fat people, I struggle with how to fit this new information into my previous understanding of the person. I’m sure I’ll manage somehow.

Living The Fantasy

The show begins in a limo with a champagne toast by Gina.

Limo

“Here’s to no more dickweeds putting me in coffins, amirite?”

The limo drives down a scenic country road to a mansion where Gunn and another guy are waiting.

Oh

I get a real Muppet-y vibe from these two.

Tim Gunn is there for fashion and accessories, while the other guy is Ken Paves who does hair. And then Gunn calls down the kids, who are getting makeovers too.

The Kids

Biingo’s hopped up on the goofballs in this episode. I love it.

Inside the house, Gunn shows Lindsay a rack of clothes and tells her to pick out something that speaks to her.

“Lindsay is 13, so I want to give her some lessons that will take her through her teen years and will allow her to further evolve that look.” Sounds neat.

So Lindsay comes out into the Bond villain’s living room:

Skinny legs

She even stands like an awkward teenager.

“Wow, have a look,” Gunn says, crossing over to her. “Look at those slim, gorgeous legs. Look at you. What do you think? Can you wrap your brain around the new you?”

No, Tim, I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that you’re gushing over her “slim, gorgeous legs.” I don’t care if you’re asexual, it’s still creepy as hell, and just plain wrong. Want to give a teenage girl an eating disorder? Let’s praise her “slim, gorgeous legs” so that she’s ever fearful and ever vigilant about the creeping fat cells that will rob her of her “slim, gorgeous legs.”

See, the odd thing is, there has been a conspicuous absence of talk about the kids’ weights on the show, which I think is intentional. Although the kids are clearly attempting to lose weight and have done so successfully, there’s a de-emphasis on the actual weight loss process. I can only assume this is NBC playing it safe. Instead, they talk about making their bodies healthier and increasing their confidence. But clearly they’re talking about weight loss and it’s effects.

“I see myself in this dress and I look amazing,” Lindsay says. “I don’t know what to say, but I’m just like, man, this hard work does pay off. All those tears and sweat, it makes me look good in clothes.”

Remember kids, it’s all about health.

Then we move onto Jackson, and Gunn wants to try something on Jackson.

Then we hear Jackson say to the camera, “I always wanted to mask my body and hide it. All of my wardrobe consisted of large, baggy things that wouldn’t show off my body because I had too much body to show off.”

As he’s saying this, we have a nice, long shot of Jackson walking down the sidewalk wearing some of his largest, baggiest things:

Baggy Clothes

That’s not actually his belly, it’s a baggy pouch in his baggy shirt.

But now, having lost weight, Jackson is allowed to wear clothes that fit him:

Jackson Bowtie

What, is Jackson auditioning for the next Dr. Who?

“Oh my god, I look so skinny,” Jackson gasps.

“You do look skinny,” Gunn agrees.

Jackson Mirror

Why, he’s so skinny… where’d he go?

I’m just curious if Tim Gunn thinks I’m skinny too, seeing as how I only weigh 15 pounds more than Jackson in this shot. Am I, Timmy? Am I skinny too? Do I have slim, gorgeous legs too?”

“I never thought I could pull of so much color and pattern and craziness.” I’m sorry, but I don’t think Jackson, or anyone else, can pull off wearing a pair of pants that look like they came from the Body Worlds exhibit. “Like, I don’t know if 70 pounds ago this would have looked as nice.”

“It wouldn’t have. Trust me,” Gunn assures him.

“Yeah,” Jackson agrees.

“No,” Gunn continues. “Seventy pounds ago, this was not gonna happen.”

“No.”

OKAY! WE GET IT! SEVENTY POUNDS AGO HE COULDN’T WEAR A CHRISTMAS SWEATER, BOW TIE AND BLOODY FLESHPANTS!

Honestly, who gives a shit if he could wear this particular outfit 70 pounds ago? If Jackson had the funds, the self-confidence, and maybe some help from Chubstr, he probably could find an equally quirky outfit that works for that body. What is the point?

Oh, that’s right, to drive home the point that fatties are forbidden from certain fashions. If 70+ pound Jackson wore that outfit, he would be subject to the disapproving stares of fashionistas everywhere. What a tragedy!

You know what makes style interesting to me? The fact that it’s your style. And whether it meets some arbitrary standard set by the Lords and Ladies of Fashion, I could care less about. In my uneducated opinion, fashion shouldn’t just be about following rules so much as expressing yourself. If you think breaking a rule works for you, then break the damn rule!

“These clothes aren’t just a physical thing,” Jackson says to the camera. “These are a symbol of how far we’ve come and that’s a great feeling.” Symbols are powerful, and for dieters, clothing is one of the most powerful. The fact that your choices are limited at a certain size can be incredible disheartening, as we’ve already seen in the show when contestants are shopping with thinner people. This episode is highly symbolic in that it appeals to some of our most basic psychological needs: love, approval, acceptance. Clothing embodies all of these things.

When you’re thin (and have the funds), you can shop anywhere, buy anything, and look good doing it. Unless you wear something completely outlandish, most people aren’t going to cluck their tongues, but when you’re fat, you’re a bigger target (pun intended). Most thin people who dress sexy get a positive response on average, while fat people who dress sexy get a negative one. So, yeah, clothes are symbolic, which is why this episode is the most popular of the season and the one that means so much to the contestants.

Joe’s up next in a nice looking sweater.

Joe Thin

Now this is something I would wear to work or a “fancy” event.

“I have to tell you,” Gunn tells him, “if I were a cook and you were my cake, I would say you’re close to fully baked.”

Flashback to Joe looking like cake batter.

Fat Joe

“Sorry guys, this was my tightest shirt.”

Joe’s voiceover says, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to look in a mirror and smile and say ‘Wow, there’s Joe. Joe’s back. That’s the Joe that I know.'” I’m kind of confused by this. Before he got fat, did he used to look at himself in the mirror and say, “Wow, there’s Joe. Joe’s back. That’s the Joe that I know.”? Because that’s kind of weird.

It would be like me going into the bathroom, looking at myself and saying “Wow, there’s Shannon. Shannon’s back. That’s the Shannon that I know.” Because I could always get fatter, then lose the weight and “be back,” right? So, unless Joe is a weight cyler/yo yo dieter, it would be kind of weird for him to say “Joe’s back,” right?

Jeff’s next.

Jeff Clothes

I would wear this too. Just thought you might want to know which outfits that I, personally, like.

“Wow,” Gunn says. “Getting you out of the sweats, there’s a real figure and shape in there.”

Hey, does Tim Gunn think i have a real figure and shape? Because at this point in the show, Jeff is 30 pounds heavier than me. Have I reached my aspirational weight?

It’s so arbitrary, his praise. They’re always beautiful, as long as they’re losing weight.

Something else that stuck out at me here is Gunn’s comment on getting him out of the sweats. Up until this point, we have only seen the contestants in their uniform of colored sweatpants and tracksuits. The only time we see them in normal clothes is in the flashbacks, when they wore whatever they already had in their possession. In this episode, they are provided a wardrobe by a professional fashion consultant free of charge.

So visually, the difference is striking. It resonates deeply. It’s like seeing someone in a prison jumpsuit for weeks and then suddenly they’re dressed by Oscar de la Renta (first fashion name I thought of). The symbolism is profound and powerful. As Lindsay put it, “All those tears and sweat, it makes me look good in clothes.” And when she’s an adult, she can add vomit to the list.

“As I’m standing here looking at myself in the mirror, a few things are racing through my mind,” Jeff says to the camera as we flashback.

How Shirt Work

“Fat guy in a little shirt. Fat guy in a little shirt.”

“I have a button-up on, and the buttons aren’t stressed, pulling at each other.” Wow! It’s like they knew his right size or something. What is this mad science? “I have a jacket on and I don’t need the jacket to hide the fact that the shirt doesn’t fit.” Because buying clothes that fit is hard. “This is that really sweet moment that you get to realize that all your hard work has paid off.” I gotta tell ya Jeff, I know exactly what you mean. When I finally find a shirt that fits me, I feel like “Whew, I did it.”

Sunny’s up and we get a flashback to that time she tried on a red dress, looked beautiful, but felt sad.

Hideous Dress

Sunny’s worst problem in this picture is perspective.

Then Sunny says to the camera in flashback, “My friends can wear, like, short dresses, but I can’t find clothes that I feel comfortable in. Like, even if they do fit, I don’t feel like I look good in them.” This is a subjective, not objective, reality for fat people. Think about it… last week, Sunny herself said that her mom weight cycled her way to her current weight. Do you think that if her mom looked like her daughter, she would be comfortable in that dress?

And the thing is, Sunny herself has already been weight cycling, per an interview with Yahoo!

Being overweight has been something that I’ve battled my entire life. I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried diets. I’ve tried killing myself in the gym, and nothing’s worked for me. I’d seen the show in the past. I’ve seen how it’s transformed people’s lives. The changes people make on the show are as much mental as they are physical, and I was just really hoping that the show could help me with that.

Sunny is counting on Biggest Loser to have the secret to permanent change, but given it’s track record, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I just hope that Sunny can eventually be at peace with her body, rather than following in her mother’s footsteps.

Now, back in the the hideous room, Sunny wears something new.

Sunny Fashion

Sgt. Pepper’s Teenage Weight Loss Club.

Sunny says to the camera, “As I’m looking at myself in the mirror, instead of, like, kind of feeling bad about myself and looking at all the flaws on my body, all I can see is just the good things about my body, and it just makes me feel really good about myself. It’s a huge difference. It means a lot.” Yes, Sunny, it does. It makes a huge difference when you can look in the mirror without feeling bad about yourself and without looking at all the flaws on your body, and dieting is not the only way to achieve that difference. It’s called self-acceptance, and it can go hand in hand with fitness and health without the focus on weight loss.

Gina’s next, and Gunn’s enthusiastic. “Gina feels youthful and sexy again, and I want her clothes to say the same thing. Yes she’s a mature woman, but no woman ever has to look matronly and Gina will not.”

Flashback to Gina lookin’ fat.

Gina-Fatty-Twofer

In the second picture, they were sure to get Gina in tight clothes bearing a ham.
[Click for the animated fatty twofer.]

“It’s so hard to find clothes that fit,” Gina says to the camera. “I just prefer things that are bigger on me to hide the fat, to hide the weight so people won’t see it as much. I don’t look good or feel good in my clothes now at all, at all, at all, at all.”

They do a good job of emphasizing that if you’re fat, you won’t find clothes that fit you, which is generally true in brick and mortar stores, but not so much online. In fact, I just learned about an online shop called eShakti that does custom sizing from 0 to 36W. I wonder if Gina knew about the thriving fatshion community or eShakti, would she have felt the same way?

Gunn tells Gina that he wants her to try on a leather skirt. She’s reluctant, but does it anyway and when she comes out of the dressing room, he gives her one of his signature “you look so good it gave me whiplash” looks.

Gunn Punched

It’s windy in there.

What struck Gunn so forcefully?

Gina Clothes 1

“That’s real leopard skin.”

“This is not anything I’ve worn in a long time,” Gina says. ”

Gunn prods her, “You haven’t worn anything like this because…”

“… because I was very heavy.” Gina finishes.

“… you couldn’t fit into it.” WE GET IT, TIM!

“Right. I wore a size 20,” Gina admits. “I wore tents to court every day.”

“Well, I happen to know that the skirt is a size 10,” Gunn says, his favorite fatty size.

“Yes, it is,” Gina grins. “I noticed that.”

Gunn does the math. “So that’s half.”

“That is half,” Gina confirms. “That’s a good feeling.”

“How amazing is that?” It’s like flying to the moon!

“That’s a great feeling,” Gina says.

Unsatisfied, he asks again. “How amazing is that?” It’s like discovering the cure for cancer!

“It’s incredible,” Gina concedes. Wait, is it incredible or amazing? I’m so confused.

Gina tries on another outfit.

Gina Clothes 2

Golden Girls chic is all the rage. This is from the Rue McClanahan line.

“This is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me ever, and I worked so hard,” Gina says, sobbing.

“I was gonna say,” Gunn corrects her, “it didn’t happen to you — it happened because of you, and that 245-pound woman is gone.”

“Yeah, she’s gone.”

‘She’s completely gone.” Yup, dead as a doornail. We left her corpse rotting in the desert so she’ll never return again, the damned body snatcher.

Biingo’s next, and although Biingo says he wears shorts year-round and isn’t fond of long pants, this is the outfit he picks out from the offerings.

Biingo Clothes 1

Oh.

Gunn says to the camera, “I just want Biingo to evolve in terms of his fashion — get out of those hoodies and those shorts, wear some long pants, wear a proper top. I don’t want to rob him of his teen years, but this skateboard surfer thing? I’m over it.”

Ya know what, Gunn? You diss the hoodies, you diss me. If I ever run into you in a dark alley, you better brace yourself for some good ol’ hoodie justice. I’m not really sure what that would involve, but I would probably forceably dress you in a hoodie. Probably some hoodie I never wash. Then I’ll implant a tiny bomb in the back of your skull so that if you ever took off the hoodie it would explode. So… um… watch out.

As far as shorts, when I was Biingo’s age, I lived in Umbro’s over the summer.

Umbros

I’ll have to dig out a picture of my
favorite creamsicle pair that I had.

Biingo likes his second outfit enough, but I think it looks pretty good.

Biingo Clothes 2

He looks like a child assassin.

“When I look in the mirror, it’s not bad,” Bingo says to the camera. “I wouldn’t wear it as much as my hoodie and shorts, but I’d still maybe occasionally wear it.”

Gunn tells Biingo, “You can’t be in a hoodie for the rest of your life, okay?” He’s a liar, Biingo!

“Who says so?” Attaboy!

“We’re gonna get you out of the hood, okay?” Gunn says, putting his arm around him.

Shorter Gunn: Hey kid, got your own sense of style? Let be quash that for you.

Shorter Biingo: Buzz off, creep.

Then we see Biingo tell the camera, “Losing my hoodie’s just like losing my car keys. I can’t get around without them.” I love this kid. He’s gonna be all right.

Finally, we’re on the final makeover and, of course, they saved Danni for last. When Danni walks in to meet Gunn, she gets the tinkliest music of all as they kiss cheeks. It’s kind of bizarre because this didn’t happen with any of the other contestants. It’s almost like they rehearsed it.

But if the show has favorites (and I’m sure they do), it’s Jackson and Danni. They’re fond of Jeff, they try to make Joe look all right even though he’s clearly a selfish asshole, and up until her death/rebirth ceremony in the Cult of Jillian last week, Gina was the baddie. But between Jackson and Danni, the show is definitely pushing Danni’s story the hardest. She’s the one they want the audience rooting for the most. I would bet dollars to donuts that if the Producers had their druthers, Danni would win.

So, the fact that Danni gets the most dramatic makeover segment and the most personal attention.

We flashback to Danni walking with her Dad before the voiceover:

Danni and Dad

See her fatty jeans? What a disgrace.

“I want to shop at the stores my friends shop at and I want to buy those really cute skinny jeans, but no one makes skinny jeans my size,” she sniffs, “and if they do, they don’t look right.” Of course, that could have something to do with the near-atrocity status people ascribe to fatties in skinny jeans.

Then we see Gunn waiting for Danni and finally the curtain opens.

Danni Skinny Jeans

What is that, snakeskin? Shaved oxen?

At a loss for words, Gunn resorts to pantomime.

Gaping Maw

He calls this “Witness a Horrific Murder.”

“Look in the mirror,” Gunn tells her. “Look at you.”

Skinny Jeans

“Look what you’ve done.”

“This is crazy,” Danni says.

“What do you think?”

“I think it’s fabulous, Danni gushes. “I’ve never worn skinny jeans in my entire life.”

“You look fantastic,” Gunn gushes.

“I’ve never seen myself like this before.”

“This is really amazing, don’t you think?” Everything is amazing to Tim Gunn.

“I love it,” Danni grins.

Then she says to the camera, “I’ve never had that kind of reaction when I looked in the mirror. For the first time I felt like, I’m seeing who I was really supposed to be, and it just feels so good to be somewhere where I’ve dreamed my whole life of wanting to be.”

Danni is one of the 4% of successful dieters who has lost at least 20%. She’s an exception to the rule. She’s part of a sliver of those who try to achieve the Fantasy of Being Thin. And it’s the FoBT that keeps dieters coming back to the table again and again and again.

Biggest Loser is about making the FoBT look more successful than it really is. It’s about taking 15-20 people and giving them all the incentives in the world to put up with The Process, as they call it, which is the 1,200 calorie + 42 hours per week of exercise + the dehumanization process. The $250,000 Grand Prize, and the $100,000 Second Chance Prize are just one incentive, but reaching Makeover Week, which is the FoBT incarnate, seems to be at least as important as the cash.

If this is the case, then Tim Gunn is the Ambassador to the Fantasy of Being Thin.

“So, how does it feel now to be in these clothes?” Gunn asks.Danni sobs, then says, “Sorry.”

“Oh, it’s emotional. I know.” Gunn says, putting his arm around her.

“It feels amazing,” Danni wipes away the tears. “I never thought I would look like this or feel like this in my whole life.”

“And look at you,” Gunn says, gesturing to the mirror.

Beauty Queen

Well, a runner up, at least.

Then Danni says to the camera, “This experience is beyond what I thought it was gonna be, you know? I knew I was gonna try on nice clothes and I was excited about new sizes, but the way I feel walking out —” cut to Danni walking out in a new outfit.

Danni Skirt

Parting the mustard curtains.

“I feel beautiful and I’m not that athlete anymore,” Danni says. “You don’t see the beast that everyone called me.” WHAT? People called her a beast? Yeah, I would say that having people call you a “beast” would affect the way you feel about yourself. “I feel pretty. I’m wearing heels and a dress. It’s just the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my whole life, I think.” It’s the ultimate evidence that the onus is on the victim to escape from the stigma of being fat, even though this isn’t the first diet Danni’s been on. It’s just the first on national television.

Finally, Gunn tells Danni, “You are just going to be knocking people down, sideways, upside down with your fabulousness.”

Okay, I don’t mean to nitpick, but am I the only one who thinks that Gunn may be over-reacting a bit? I mean, c’mon…

Gunn Overreacting

“If only I could dislocate my jaw to drop it a little lower.”

Isn’t that just the asexual version of this:

Asexual Ogler

I feel like his reactions aren’t suited to the moment. These attempts at looking “blown away” look more like Gunn’s witnessing a tragedy. You know, like this…

Timdenberg

“Oh the fabulomanity!”

And then I recalled a scene from earlier this season where both reactions would fit perfectly.

Bludgeoning-Tim

“Hey Mike, we gotta get you outta those shorts and — OW!”
[Click to see Tim Gunn get bludgeoned. Click here to see the slightly inappropriate bloody version.]

I understand that for these contestants, this moment is huge and I’m happy for them personally. But what I detest is the message this sends to people, particularly the children who are watching this show. The message is simple: when you’re fat, clothes don’t fit, they’re ugly, your selection is limited, you can’t wear cool things and you should hate how you look in anything that isn’t a tent; but when you’re skinny, the clothes look good on you, you’re a beauty queen, you get to wear cool things and Tim Gunn thinks you’re fabulous. And while these are factually true statements, most dieters never get close to these results.  It’s dangling an irresistible social carrot in front of fatties to lure them into trying just one more time. This time will be the last, we promise.

And this is the message that Tim Gunn helped promote during this long and powerful segment. What a tragedy.

We then go across town to that other guy.

Ken Paves

“Hi there, I’m that other guy.”

“I’m beauty expert Ken Paves and this is my fifth time doing The Biggest Loser,” he says. Then in come the kids.

Hugging Paves

I guess they didn’t get to keep their new clothes yet.

Ken continues, “I love doing makeovers for The Biggest Loser because I really feel like it’s a show with a conscience.” Yeah, like this.

Dead Angel

“Now, make ’em run till they puke!”

Danni says, “I feel like such a new person, I can’t wait to look like a new person.” I always wonder what happened to the old person. Are they kept in storage somewhere? And if you’re a severe weight cycler, do you have these old people stacked like cordwood?

And now, we’re treated to a haircut montage.

Haircut-Montage

Click for haircut montage. You’ll have to provide some pop song for the background music,
since Biggest Loser blew their music license budget on this episode.

And, of course, when you’re promoting a show with a conscience, you’re sure to get a shot of your products in there.

Don't forget the product

Now available at Earl’s Supermart in Pigsknuckle, Arkansas.

“It’s been a long time since they’ve seen their family members,” Ken says to the camera. “They left completely different people, so I want them to come home the best version of themselves, and hair plays a huge role in that.” Teeth too. Don’t forget to whiten their teeth.

Ken tells Lindsay after her haircut, “You are truly beautiful.”

Then we see Lindsay standing behind Sunny, and she says, “Sunny, you actually look really pretty with your hair like that.” I gotta say, that kinda sounded like a burn, but Lindsay is sweet, so I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way. It just strikes me as funny.

“I like that,” Sunny smiles. “We look cute.”

“I know,” Lindsay smiles. They toss their hair back and forth.

Tossing-Hair

Click to see them swing their hair back forth, they swing their hair back and forth.

Then, “coming up… it’s the moment the contestants, kids, and all of their families have been waiting 10 weeks for.” Followed by shots of various tribes cheering as they see their person enter for the first time.

Finally, we see Danni’s mom screaming, “Oh my god, you’re beautiful!”

So  Beautiful

Hooray! You’re not fat!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The time has come. The time is now. Just go. Go. GO! I don’t care how.

But mostly, they fly.

Going Home

Actual satellite footage.

We hear Danni in a voiceover as she takes a walk with her dad.

“The last time I was home, I was always thinking about my weight, every single moment of the day.” As she’s saying this last part, the shot ends with Danni hiking up her britches.

Hikin-Britches

Click to see the moment TBL captured and chose to illustrate her words with.

Then, we see flashback footage of a camera rolling past library shelves until we see Sunny. She says over voiceover, “I was just so low on self-esteem and self-confidence and I was just, like, miserable.”

Sad Sunny

Actually, it looks like she’s studying. You know, since she’s in a library.

And these shots continue, flashback reels from pathetic days, one for each person who talks.

Reel-of-Shame

Click to watch the Reel of Shame.

Joe says, “When I had first arrived on the ranch, I was confused, I was lost.” I thought I was Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd.

The-Contestants

Click to see the fatties fattin’ it up.

Jackson says, “Since day one, every day has been an uphill struggle,” as we see various shots of Jackson, Joe and Gina either in physical distress or recovery.

Fond-Memories

Click to relive the good ol’ days of delirium and whatever the hell Joe’s soaking in.
Grapes? You’re doing it wrong, Joe.

Back to the Reel of Shame, Gina says, “This is the first time in a long, long time I don’t feel like that 245-pound girl.” That’s probably because you aren’t a 245-pound girl. You have indeed, physically lost weight, but that’s about it. There’s no magic transformation that Jillian did with the coffin trick to change your personality. As Ben Folds says, you’ve got to learn to live with what you are.

“No more being the largest kid in class,” Biingo says to the shot of him awkwardly kicking a football.

And now that we’ve purged all the bad stuff, we can focus on the good. Jackson says, “To go home and show everyone how far you’ve come and how much weight you’ve lost means everything to me.”

Lindsay says, “I feel more than beautiful, I feel gorgeous.”

Jeff says, “I hope they see all the hard work I’ve been putting in.”

Finally, Joe says, “I’m back to that person that’s inside of me, that’s always been there, but now you can see it.”

His words remind of these obnoxious ads.

Trapped Inside a Fat Body

Yeah, these two totally used to weigh 600 pounds.

And now, the moment we’ve been building up to: their entrance.

Reunited-and-It-Feels-So-Good

Reunited and it feels so gooooooooood.
[Click to see the big entrances.]

And, of course, the crowd goes wild.

Adulation

Click for HOORAY!!!

We then see a series of shots of family members talking about seeing their loved ones for the first time, which I present to you here in bullet form:

  • Danni’s mom, Zrinka: “I was just amazed at the strength that my daughter has which is really wonderful — wonderful to see how comfortable she is in her own skin.”
  • Danni’s dad, Tom: “It’s incredible to see the sparkle in her eye and the smile and the confidence. She just looks amazing.”
  • Gina’s daughter, Samantha:”My mom just looks stunning. She’s always been beautiful. She’s more beautiful now.”
  • Joe’s identical twin brother, Henry Jr., who has also lost weight at home during the show: “When I first saw Joe, I saw that smile, I saw his confidence, and I saw Joe. It was amazing.”
  • Joe’s father, Henry Sr.: “It was like a birth again.” Ew. “You know, just a whole new person.” Yeah, got it, but I could have done without thinking about Joe’s placenta.
  • Jackson’s mom, Becky: “Jackson does anything that Jackson puts his mind to. I couldn’t be more proud.”
  • Lindsay’s sister, Ashley, who called Biggest Loser for Lindsay: “Lindsay seems way more confident, and she’s super happy. To see the look on her face brought tears to my eyes.”
  • Biingo’s dad, Randy: “I am proud to be his dad, very proud. It goes to show that hard work does pay off.”
  • Sunny’s mom, Shanthi: “When Sunny walked in through the door, I could see a spring in her step. I could see a light in her eye, and I was like, ‘Is this my daughter or a new person?’ I haven’t seen her this happy and this confident in a long time. I’m so proud of my daughter.”

Then the contestants tell their family and friends how much weight they’ve lost and they get WOO!ed.

Jackson says to the crowd, “I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and that’s something that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before.”

And Danni says, “I never saw myself that bad” cut to this shot.

Sad Danni

No wonder she’s sad, somebody stole her sleeves!

“And then as I started going through this journey, I didn’t realize how many things I did wrong nutritionally, physically, emotionally, so that person is gone.” People WOO!

Sunny says, “I’ve started, like, to make my lifestyle more healthy. I’m just making sure that I workout every day, I eat right, hopefully, like, the things I’m doing can kind of help other teenage girls realize that they can be more healthy in their lives too and that it’s really not that hard.”

Then they all talk about how their family and friends support them and how much they love them.

Sunny says, “I feel beautiful just being happy and healthy” and her friends say “Aaaaaaaaaaaaw, you are beautiful” and rush up to hug her.

We hear Gina say, “This journey is the most I’m proud of of anything I’ve ever done.” More proud than all her professional accomplishments? More proud than raising her kids? C’mon, the proudest?

Then Jeff’s mom says, “I was proud when he graduated college. I thought that was one of the proudest moments — no, I think this is one of the proudest moments.”

With the adulation over, we cut to commercial. “Coming up… The contestants get put to the test for the ultimate prize.”

Danni reads a letter, “You’ll earn immunity at the next weigh-in?”

Sweeney says, “And they’ll get their first taste of just how challenging life will be at home,” followed by shots of drool-worthy food and the contestants eying them.

Joe says to the camera, “I’m seeing everything I used to order. This is not going to be as easy as I thought it was going to be.”

“Plus,” Sweeney says, “see how the final five take to their communities to help challenge America.”

“I challenge you to challenge yourself,” Gina says to a group of people who have gather for a workout.

Save Your Life

“You too can be terrified of food and run your body into the ground!”

“It will save your life. It saved mine,” Gina says, as the camera zeroes in on a very large man in a black shirt watching her.

“And later,” Sweeney continues, “a surprise ending to the weigh-in that you don’t want to miss.” Shot of Gina looking sad.

It's terrible

Seriously, we’re totally ditching Gina this episode. Look, she’s fucking crying!

When we return from commercial break, the contestants each get a letter from Biggest Loser, which we hear each of them read in pieces.

The Letter

“Greetings to you, the lucky finder of this Golden Ticket.”

You’ll just have to picture who read what:

Congratulations on making it this far, but you didn’t really think we’d send you home without a challenge, did you? In fact, we’re sending you home with two. The first is to challenge yourself. If you can lose 5% of your body weight over the next two weeks you will earn immunity at the next weigh-in. If you don’t, you are up for elimination. There is no yellow line. Remember, the further you get in this competition, the harder it is to lose weight.

Your second task is to challenge America. Tomorrow you will lead a workout for your friends, family and community. It’s your turn to show off what you’ve learned and help your community get moving.

We then see Joe say, “Five percent of my body weight right now is 14 pounds. I’m with my friends, my family, I mean, I’m gonna be challenged, but I know that I have to get my cardio in, workout every day, and I have to watch everything I eat.”

Okay, so here’s the thing: in real life, out here in what researchers call the “free-living” world, 5% after a year is considered “clinically significant weight loss.” And on average, most dieters on pretty much every weight loss program will lost between 5% and 10% of their starting weight. The exception is very low calorie diets (VLCD) of 1,000 or less calories per day, which may maintain a slightly higher loss until year 2, when all diets look the same. And Biggest Loser is essentially a VLCD plus insane amounts of exercise, which result in rapid, enormous weight loss results.

So 5% in two weeks really isn’t that shocking of an amount. Just check out the chart of their weight weight loss percentages.

Tally

The amounts with the red line through it are the weeks that resulted in a two-week loss of less than 5% either on one side or both. In total, there are 9 instances of contestants not getting a biweekly result of at least 5%. That’s out of 40 biweekly results. So 77% of the time, contestants lost 5% or more. And since week 5, there have only been 3 failures out of 20, or a success rate of 85%, which destroys the “harder to lose weight” claim.

And I hope you’re not mistaking my message here to say that dieting is easy. It’s not. What Biggest Loser contestants do is incredibly difficult and I cannot understate how much I respect them personally for surviving such an ordeal. But the reality is that maintenance is 10,000 times more difficult, and when contestants leave the ranch they are essentially fighting the clock until they gradually lose the battle against the starvation mode that the game show triggered.

But I am saying that what Biggest Loser does is probably one of the fastest, most effective programs to fuck up your metabolism and set yourself up for long-term failure. I’m also saying that this “challenge” to lose 5% isn’t out of the ordinary for these final five contestants. But that doesn’t stop the contestants from going with the hype.

“For this challenge, I have to lose 5% of my body weight, and, for me, that’s 15 pounds,” Jeff says. “I don’t have all of the tools of the ranch, so it’s just all about keeping focused and not letting any distractions get in your way.”

“Five percent of my body weight is 13 pounds,” Jackson says. “That’s gonna be quite the challenge, especially with all the temptations that are out here in the real world.”

And, of course, Gina is terrified that if she doesn’t get immunity she’ll be voted off.

Is that enough drama for you?

The Evangelists

Now comes the part of any diet cult that everybody looks forward to: weight loss evangelism. They’ve worshipped at the feet of their Dieties, and now they’ve been sent to spread the Good News of  Jillian, Bob and Dolvett.

And where does every weight loss evangelist begin? The refrigerator.

Disapproving

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Kraft, I will fear no mayo:
For thou art with me; Thy carrot stick and thy celery, they comfort me.”

“One of my biggest struggles at home is food,” Jackson says to the camera. “I’m definitely worried about how my eating is gonna be at home.”

Searching through the fridge, he lists the problems. “Biscuits… no nonfat milk.”

Then to the camera, he says, “My parents don’t exactly have the best eating habits, so I’m rifling through the fridge just trying to find something and there is nothing I can eat.”

Jackson calls his mom, “Like, what do we have to eat?”

His mom begins to look through the fridge, “Um…”

Rummaging

Why hasn’t this woman been shopping for Jackson in his absence? It’s so weird.

“‘Cause there’s not really anything in here that I can eat, I don’t think,” Jackson says.

“That you can eat?” she asks from a full fridge. “We have sausage. Can you eat sausage?”

“It’s just really high in sodium, so it makes me retain water,” Jackson says.

“There’s some lunch meat,” she says hopefully.

“What vegetables do we have?” Jackson asks.

“I have some lettuce,” she says.

Looking for Food

“I have some lard gravy and pickled Twinkies.”

“Do you have anything but iceberg?” Jackson asks, getting slightly frustrated..

“No, just iceberg,” she says. Setting aside the nutritional aspect (iceberg being essentially water), iceberg is just boring.

“That’s okay,” Jackson sighs.

“Sorry honey,” she says.

“I have to have a talk with my mom,” Jackson says to the camera. “I have a big goal to reach. Five percent is unbelievable.” His imagination has literally snapped trying to visualize losing 5% in two weeks. “That’s an unreal number and if the kitchen looks the way it does now, I’m not going to be able to reach that.”

Then we see Jackson rummaging through the freezer. “Yikes, there’s 700 grams of sodium in the dinner pockets.”

Then gain to the camera, “If I’m the only one that doesn’t make it, then I’m going home. I don’t want that. I wanna get into the final four.”

We then see Jackson and his mom sitting at a table, as Jackson sets her straight.

Grasshopper

“Here’s the right way to do things, and here’s you waaaaaaaaay over here.”

“One of the big things I love to eat is spaghetti squash,” Jackson tells her. “It’s a really good vegetable, it’s low in carbs. What we do is, you just cut it in half, cook it, and then it strings apart like spaghetti so instead of eating spaghetti noodles, you can make the switch to spaghetti squash and it’s really good.”

He then puts on his grocery list low-sodium marinara and ground turkey (Jennie-O, of course).

“I was focused more on fat and maybe even sugar,” his mom says, “but I didn’t realize it was sodium played such a huge role.”

“It’s just not good for you,” Jackson says. “It makes you retain water, it raises your blood pressure. Definitely avoid things that are high in fat, especially bad fats like all of the stuff in the frozen food.”

Then Jackson says to the camera, “My family is a perfect example of why obesity in this country is such a big deal.” The sodium-eating bastards. “I think most American people just don’t understand nutrition, and it’s great that we’re challenging America because I get to go home and show my family and show my community how to eat and how to exercise, and that’s awesome.” Once you’re on The Biggest Loser, they grant you a Teaching License and that you may use at your discretion.

To his mom, he says, “One of my main concerns is that I was afraid that coming back here, I was gonna relapse into my old habits of not eating all throughout the day and then binging really hard at night, and, you know, fall back into the deep-fried stuff, so…”

“Well, then we’ll take care of that,” his mom says. “You know we’ve tried a million different diets over the years.”

“Oh god, yes,” Jackson says.

“Crash diets, crazy diets, you know, and this is different than anything we’ve tried.” Yeah, they’ve never tried impossible diets. “So I’m kind of interested to see how we do.” I’m more interested to see how long you do it.

Mom says to the camera, obviously answering a question about Jackson’s baby weight as the photo collage below illustrates her words:

Actually, with Jackson, he was really small as a baby, and they kept telling me he ws underweight, so we just started stuffing him with food, and then it just went out of control from there. I show my love with food. I love to cook, I love to feed him, it’s just what we’ve always done, so it’s going to be a big change not to be that way. You love him so much sometimes, you can love him to death.

Jackson-Baby-Photos

Click to see wee baby Jackson go from underweight to overweight.

Finally Jackson says to the camera, “This is a problem that everyone struggles with. Everyone struggles with nutrition. Everyone struggles to stay active. And I just want her to know that it’s not her fault. Like, there’s no one to blame.”

What I want to know more about are these diets. Like Sunny, it seems to be a family affair. I wonder how many times Jackson and his mom have lost and gained more weight each time. How old was he when he went on his first diet? Such small details can raise such important questions.

After Jackson sufficiently shames his family for their refrigerator we have a Biggest Loser followup with Alex, who has now lost 75 pounds.

Angelic Alex

Cue the angelic choirs!

“God, look how gorgeous that is,” the cameraman says. “Smile, that’s beautiful. Let me see that beautiful smile again.”

“I really don’t remember the last time that I felt this good,” Alex says. Yeah, it must be real nice to be told by random cameramen that you’re gorgeous and beautiful

As they look at shots, Alex says to the cameraman, “Months ago I never would have been able to put on a dress like that.” Of course, plenty of fat women would and do and seem to be just fine.

Finally, Alex says to the camera, “In the past, it’s like I needed my hair done or I had to have the makeup on in order to feel beautiful, so this just puts together the entire product because even though I have it today, without it, I still feel beautiful. You know, beauty really is skin deep and if you love yourself on the inside, you know, the outside will show, and I’m clearly showing it off today.” So did she not have it inside before? And what comes first, the inner or outer transformation? The answer, of course, is that weight loss releases you from under the stigma that makes your insides feel like shit. Her body wasn’t stopping her from wearing that dress, the stigma was.

There’s a commercial break and when we return, Gina’s at her favorite Mexican restaurant.

“Chips and salsa are a temptation,” Gina says to her family.

“You can eat just one,” says Gina’s daughter, Samantha.

“Could you eat just one?” Gina asks.

“No, I cannot eat just one, but if you just want to try it, it’s been a long time,” Samantha says, holding up a chip.

Gina sniffs a chip.

Sniff n Chips

Watch out, Gina! Sniffing food is another way to consume molecules!

“The chips and the salsa are really hard for me,” Gina says to the camera. “I could have eaten a whole basket on my own.” Flashback to Gina eating a bucket of food.

Gina-Gorging

Click to see Fatty Gina stuffing her Fatty Face because that’s what Fatties do.

“And I know that it’s going to be hard to not eat,” Gina continues, “but I had made up my mind and I was determined that I was gonna enjoy the dinner with my family and stay in my own space with food and make sure that I’m still making really good choices.”

When the server delivers Gina’s plate, it’s all ooey gooey.

Gina Wrong Order

Cheese, cheese and more cheese on a bed of cheese with cheese sauce.

“Baby, that looks delicious,” says Gina’s husband, Chad.

Then Gina says to the camera, “I did not order refried beans, I did not order Mexican rice, and I surely did not order chicken covered in two pounds of cheese.” Yeah, I said THREE pounds of cheese, you bastards!

At the table, Gina tells the waitress, “Let me see what I can do with this.”

Then to the camera, she says, “I want to be accommodating and I want to be gracious, but you know what? I’ve been gracious my whole life and look where it’s gotten me.”

Yeah! The real reason Gina is fat is that every time she orders a salad, they bring her buckets of cheese instead and she can’t turn it down! I find this part to be patently ridiculous. I’m a guilt-wracked lapsed Catholic who apologizes profusely for just about every perceived slight I make against others. I kind of know where Gina is coming from in this regard, but she acts damn near terrified to even say that they brought her the wrong order. Really? You can’t just tell the waitress, “Hey, this isn’t my food”?

At the table, Gina asks the waitress, “How many calories do you think it has in it?”

The waitress says, “Um, I’m not sure about that.”

And the tension-filled music builds as Gina decides whether or not to eat the wrong order.

Then to Jeff, where Jeff’s friend says, “You had to be grumpy when your calories got cut in half.”

“In half?” Jeff laughs.

“It wasn’t half?”

Half? It got cut by, like, 90%,” Jeff says. Although he’s exaggerating, I’m really curious to know what contestants consumed prior to the show versus the 1,000-1,200 they’re living on now. Biggest Loser is the perfect opportunity to see just how accurate calories in, calories out isn’t.

His skinny friends order sampler platter and cheese fries for an appetizer.

“I don’t even know how to partake in this conversation,” Jeff says to his friends. “Talking about cheese fries and things I haven’t seen in I don’t know how long.” Then he tells the camera about his favorite food: chicken wings.

Jeff Wing Fantasy

It’s all part of my chicken wing fantasy.

“There is literally one item on this entire thing that I can eat,” Jeff says, putting down the menu.

“You should get the ribs and I’ll help you,” Jeff’s friend offers.

“Hands down in my entire life, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done ever, ever, ever,” Jeff says with a sigh. Guess what, Jeff… it doesn’t get any easier.

Then to Joe who says to the camera, “When we used to go out to Portobello’s, we’d order two pizzas. Now I want to be able to go and I want to eat healthy and eat the foods that I know that are nourishing my body that are still delicious.” Because there’s nothing nourishing in pizza, kids.

Then we see Joe’s POV gaze settle on the next table over.

Joe's POV

At this point , we know for certain that Joe will never eat another pizza again.

“What are you looking at?” Joe’s brother asks.

“I’m looking at that pizza,” Joe says.

Then he says to the camera, “I look over at the table next to me, and there I see — and just the way I used to order it — this big cheese pizza cooked to perfection, and there’s a big bowl of zuppa di pesce — all the seafood, calamari, everything over a big bed of pasta.” We get a closer look at the table.

Pizza

Never again.

“You know, I look at the cheese and I look at some of the sauce, I’m like ‘Oh, that was one of my favorite dishes.’ I’m, like, going, ‘You got to be kidding me. That’s what I want.'”” Joe says.

Then Joe’s dad plays devil’s advocate. “But that can’t hurt you — pizza? A little pizza?” Hurt you? Hasn’t this man seen Spaceballs?

“You know what?” Joe tells him. “The pizza, I look at that — No, pizza can’t hurt you, a nice slice of pizza, you know? But that’s the thing. I wouldn’t stop at one slice of pizza. I’d have one slice — say, okay, I’ll have two. Next thing you know, it’s the whole pie.”

Because there’s no middle ground between two slices of pizza and the whole fucking pie. Yes, there are people with food addiction problems, but Biggest Loser presents all fat people as food addicts who must restrain entirely, lest their uncontrollable gluttony lay waste to a thousand pizzas. This just isn’t the case, but since when has Biggest Loser been concerned with accuracy?

“This is the point I’m at now,” Joe tells the camera. “I’m looking at that saying, ‘Do you want to go back to what got you there — you know, eating a whole pizza? Or do you want to do the choices that you make now?’ And to do that, yeah, it takes willpower.” And how many TBL contestants have the willpower to abstain from pizza forever? Very, very few.

Joe’s family orders off the menu and Joe looks disapprovingly at his dad who orders the veal dish that Joe loves and plus some pasta.

Then it’s Joe turn and he orders an extra large cheese pizza, and the waitress gives him a mischievous grin that I couldn’t quite capture.

Waitress

“A pizza, you say?”

Cut to commercial break.

Then after the commercial, we learn that Joe was JUST KIDDING! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. That Joe, he’s a riot.

In reality, Joe orders snapper in light oil over lettuce with a side of steamed broccoli.

Okay, so of the three contestants we follow, all three are struggling with eating out, but we’re about to learn just how powerful their willpower really is.

When we return to Gina, they show the “I did not order…” part again.

“I don’t have a drinking problem, I have a food addiction problem,” Gina says. “So not knowing what I’m consuming does damage to my psyche. I need to know every day what I’m consuming.” I wonder how many diets Gina has been on because when people say they have a “food addiction,” it is usually the result of these cycles of restriction and disinhibition that define diets. Dieters restrict their intake so severely until their will finally breaks, and then, disinhibited, they gorge on all the “forbidden” foods they’ve denied themselves. This is not an addiction. This is a predictable outcome to an avoidable problem.

The waitress, who has been standing beside the whole time, offers to get her something else.

“Is that what you ordered?” she finally asks. “If not, I can bring something else for you.”

“You really think this is what I ordered?” Gina says, snarkily.

“Maybe I took the wrong plate,” the waitress laughs. “Let me check on the kitchen.”

This is when I begin to suspect that Gina’s dish was not an accident. Rather, I suspect the hands of TBL Producers may be behind the wrong order, as an attempt to trip up Gina, or at least provide some drama and tension.

“Every meal the next two weeks, the wrong order needs to go back,” Gina tells the camera. “I can’t be gracious, I can’t be accommodating. I’m going to have to be that person that sends the food back, and I will be.”

“That person”? You mean the person who wants to eat the food they order? Yeah, that’s most people. It’s not like the vast majority of diners will eat whatever’s put in front of them, while a few, selfish assholes are daring enough to send back the wrong food, right?

Finally, Gina gets her real meal.

Gina Salad

Excuse me, I ordered the large bowl.

Then Gina says to the camera, “The longer I’m here, the closer I get to the weigh-in, I’m gonna be challenged every day with food issues, exercise issues, time management issues. It’s not going to get easier, but I’m resolved that the harder it gets, the tougher I’ll be.”

Then to Jeff, where all the food arrives, except his. “I mean, we don’t have that stuff at the ranch,” Jeff says to the camera. “We don’t ever cook with grease, so do I want to taste some of it just to see if I still remember if I like the taste? Or if it’s something that I would want to eat? Sure, but I know that that could be a gateway to some very bad things.”

Pizza

Marijuana : Crack :: Pizza : Pizza Orgies

Then Jeff starts analyzing his friend’s cheeseburger.

The cheese, there’s not that much cheese on there. The bacon is right around 100 calories a slice. That’s 8 ounces of Angus — 300 calories for that. I don’t even know potatoes ’cause I’ve never eaten one since I’ve been there. The onion rings with the bread — dude, you’re at like — that’s easily a 1,200 calorie hamburger.

Jeff Burger

His friend ordered a cheeseburger with a side of self-righteous lecturing.

This is the last night Jeff’s friends will invite him out to dinner. Seriously, is there anything worse than the dieter who won’t shut up about how many calories everybody is eating? And yet, as Jeff admits, this kind of information isn’t really for his friends.

“My friends aren’t overweight. My friends can do whatever they want,” Jeff says, summing up thin privilege nicely. “It’s just all a part of being in the real world. You face temptation every single day and I don’t blame them for ordering what they want.”

Finally, Jeff’s food comes.

Jeff Salad

Jeff orders the Monster Salad.

Then he says to the camera, “Eating salad here is probably something I never would have done in my previous life, but we’ve seen people sent home by hundredths of a percent. I need to lose 5%, not 4.99%, so that one chicken wing, that one slice of pizza, that could be that one-one-hundredth of a percent, and it’s just not worth it.” The question is, will it be worth it when the contest is over?

And one of Jeff’s friends says, “We’re all gonna have a heart attack for Jeff tonight.” Ha ha ha! It’s funny because thin people who eat greasy burgers never die of heart attacks, get it?

Finally, we see Joe’s order come through.

Joe Seafood

Where’s the damned octopus I ordered!?!

Am I the only one who is struck by the size of these plates? Again, I suspect the hand of TBL Producers in this, as it seems like the contestants are being given HUGE portions, possibly to sabotage their efforts at eating “healthy” (defined as eating as few calories as possible). But, honestly, would it really surprise anyone if they did?

Workin’ It

Back at Jeff’s house, his sister has a surprise for him. They’ve transformed his basement bedroom into a home gym.

Jeff-Workout-Room

Click to see all the equipment they bought for him.

“Obviously this basement used to be a place that was not a healthy place, so mom and Don and everybody got together and wanted make this a healthy space for you,” she says.

“My bedroom took a 180 since I’ve been gone,” Jeff says to the camera as we see that previously-used shot of his gluttony and sloth.

Sad-Fatty-Twofer

Click for the Sad Fatty Twofer.

“You know, before it was the place where I was laying on my bed watching TV all day, every single day.” Then how about you get a damned job? “You know, this is great because hopefully I’ll be able to get that extra pound, the extra two pounds that maybe will push me into that 5%, or maybe, hopefully, push me just over that 5%, so I’m definitely excited to jump right into it.”

Back in Danni’s apartment, she and her dad are eating what looks like onions and tomatoes.

Danni and Dad

I don’t understand why more people don’t eat bowls full of onions.

“I really appreciate the time I get to spend with my dad,” Danni says to the camera. “He does have heart problems and he also is overweight. So the combination of the two just really backfired.”

Flashback to the walk we’ve seen her taking with her dad, then her flashback self says, “Back in February, my dad was rushed to the emergency room and they found out there was a fluid buildup over his heart and he wasn’t able to breathe. When you hear the doctor say, ‘get the whole family in,’ you know that’s not good.”

Then we see her say to her dad in the present day, “You know, it was really hard seeing you like that, and I think it was just one of those things that I will never forget and I hope you never forget, and that’s something Jillian told me. you’re never going to forget those bad moments, and you never should.”

Dad: It was one of those things that just kind of crept up on me and, you know, I wasn’t taking care of myself the way I should have, and it just all hit, and luckily I was able to pull through it.

“I hope that this whole process can get us to talk more, do more,” he says. “And if something happens like that, we have the hard conversations with each other. We’re not afraid. We’re not sugarcoating any more.”

Then Danni advocates for people to start lecturing their fat friends and relatives:

I think the hardest thing to do when you love someone is to point out their flaws or something they’re not doing well, especially when it comes to weight. Obesity is an epidemic in this country, and we need to get people to be honest with each other and not worry about hurting feelings because if you hurt my feelings, I prefer that if I know I’m gonna get healthier from it, and those are the conversations you have to have.

Of course, this all depends on your definition of “healthier.” In this instance, “unhealthy” is fat and “healthy” is getting thin. That’s stupid. In the real world, it should be “unhealthy” is unhealthy habits and “healthy” is starting healthy habits. Although I think healthism is an issue, I can respect a situation like this where family members are genuinely afraid for a person’s health. I think it’s natural to express, whether you’re talking about someone you love who’s a smoker, a drinker or a gluttonous sloth. But to make this all about pressuring fatties to diet is just wrong.

“I feel much better,” Danni’s dad tells her. “I feel the best I have in 10 years, and I know I got a long way to go.” It’s really not that long if you’re talking healthy behaviors. You can start right now, and you’re there, buddy.

Cut to commercial.

When we return, Gina’s at a community center inviting people through the loudspeaker to a community workout. Cut to a shot of the black-shirted fatty from the earlier preview.

Matt

Given to focus on this man, I get the distinct impression we’re going to see him again at the finale.

Then we see Jeff say, “I think one of the most important things to showcase is what someone can do with limited resources.”At Danni’s workout, season 11 winner Olivia Ward comes to help, and she tells the camera, “If this public workout is encouraging these people to go out and challenge their community.” At this point, the camera zooms in on another fatty.

Danni-Sister

Click to see the camera pick this one woman out of the crowd.

I’m not sure who she is, but she can also be seen in the front row of Danni’s coming home party, near her mom when she screams “You’re beautiful.” Obviously, she’s a close friend or relative of Danni’s.

Olivia continues, “And their families and their children, that, to me, encapsulates what challenge American is.”

“What I learned at Biggest Loser is you can do exercises that are free that will give you such a good workout,” Olivia then says to the crowd. “You get toning, cardio, just by using your own body.”

We then get a montage of the contestants leading their communities in jumping jacks, burpees, pushups, running, squats, and situps. Jackson says to the camera, “Challenge America is all about getting out, getting active, and just getting a little bit healthier.”

A little bit healthier? What happened to “lose ridiculous amounts of weight”?

Then we get a brief interview of the black-shirted fatty.

Matt 1

“They just picked me at random, I don’t know why.”

“My name is Matt,” he says. “I weigh 436 pounds. Growing up, I was very active and I just ate myself to where I am now. I just can’t believe where I came from and where I am now.”

Gina tells him as they walk up and down the gym, “Every day matters, Matt. Every day. You have a bad day, get up the next day and just do it again. Make every day matter.”

Gina and Matt

Wait, why isn’t she screaming at him and forcing him to run on a treadmill until he pukes?

“Gina’s thoroughly inspired me,” Matt says to the camera. “I want to do it. I want to lose all the pounds, get back to my normal, healthy weight. I need to for me. I need to for my family. I want to be around.” Except Matt won’t “lose all the pounds” taking these modest steps toward health. He’ll have to join TBL, use The Process, lose the weight, and then hope he doesn’t gain it back like the rest.

Then another season 11 contestant, Marci, addresses Matt, “It’s gonna take a while to change your body. It takes a split second to change your mind.”

Matt and Marci

Zeroing in on Fatty.

Then Joe gives some sensible advice: “Even if it’s walking 30, 45 minuites, that’s all it takes.”

And Gina too: “It can be 30 minutes, and if you don’t handle 30 minutes right now, you can do 15 minutes.”

Wait, you mean exercise doesn’t have to be sadistic for it to be effective? Do tell!

And Olivia, who makes money with her sister/co-contestant as motivational weight loss speakers, says, “This is actually becoming a movement and this is an opportunity that we all have to really, once and for all, change America.” No, Olivia, no it’s not. You’ve got about 6 million people watching this episode, most of whom are in it just to take pleasure in the abuse of fatties. This isn’t a movement, it’s a game show.

Finally, Olivia says to their group, “So because you guys were so amazing, you all are challenging America, Biggest Loser sent me with gifts for all of you.” Everyone cheers.

Cult of Subway

“Spirit fingers for fast food!”

Danny holds aloft the exalted Subway gift card.

All Hail Subway

“All Hail Subway! The Church of Eating Fresh! And to Jared Fogle, our Lord and Savior!”

Cut to commercial.

When we return, Sunny is having a chat with her friends.

Sunny and Friends

This is so personal, what with all the cameras and lights and whatnot.

“We just wanted to chat,” one of them says.

Then Sunny says to the camera, “A few of my girlfriends just kind of pulled me aside, and they wanted to talk to me. I’ve never really talked to them about how deeply being overweight has affected my life, but I feel like I’m ready to just share my experience because I’ve progressed so much, and I can see, like, how much I’ve changed from before.”

Notice she never explicitly talks about losing weight. The problem was that she was overweight, but now, she’s changed. But what has changed? Her friends chime in without mentioned her weight loss.

“Seeing you come through those doors tonight and how, like, radiant and self-confident you were, it’s like, wow, such a big difference from who you used to be and who you are now, and I’m so happy that you can finally see how beautiful you really are, ’cause you are,” her friend says. It’s as if what Sunny has been working on for 10 weeks is her radiance and self-confidence. But these are just code words for weight loss. Lose the weight, and you become radiant and confident.

“I can honestly say, like, I was at a dark point at one time, and I hated myself, and I would do things that were self-destructive,” Sunny tells them. “I haven’t told any of you this, but to be, like, brutally honest, I even tried purging at one point. I tried it, and I’m so happy to say that I can’t, which is, like, I think God was just there for me at that point ’cause I’m so happy I didn’t develop, like, an eating disorder.”

So, we’re talking about bulimia and EDs, right? But with a little clever editing, the conversation turns. First, Sunny says to the camera, “Just to share that with them, I could see how much that hurt them and, like, I realize, like, instead of going to that dark place and, like, trying to hurt myself and hurt my body, I could have maybe just gone and talked to one of my friends.” This is a good message. Sunny was depressed about her body, but she could have turned to them for support. But watch how it shifts.

“It’s something that maybe we are kind of shoving it under the rug,” Sunny says.

“We didn’t — you know, a lot of times, you don’t know what to say,” Friend 1 says.

“Sensitive topic,” Friend 2 says. “And, I mean, it’s not like — I mean, I didn’t want to come up and say like, ‘Hey, maybe you should start working out,’ but it’s hard to come and talk to your friend about some subject like that.” Is she still talking about bulimia? Nope. They’re now talking about how difficult it is to tell a friend that they’re fat. How did the conversation go from EDs to fat talk? We’ll never know.

“Yeah, I know. I think it’s like a great lesson,” Sunny says. “I think even though it’s such a hard issue to talk about, if you approach it in the right way and let them know what’s going on, I think that’s what being a good friend is.”

Good friends tell you that your fat ass needs exercise. Of course, telling your friend she’s fat would never, ever lead to an eating disorder, would it?

After this meeting, we see Biingo meet with his sister and she says she’s proud of him. Then we shift to another Biggest Loser challenge, which is actually a commercial for Walgreens. But all I can think of during this segment is, “What the fuck is wrong with Bob?”

Derp

I can’t even begin to process this look.

Bob says, “The simple act of walking can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce your risk of disease, help manage your weight, and even improve your mood.” What he doesn’t say is that happens regardless of whether you lose weight.

After the commercial, we see Jackson teaching his LGTBQ community about goal setting.

Goals

Mnemonic devices — The true secret to achieving your goals!

“I guess what I want to leave you guys with is make a goal for yourself and throw out all the ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t’ or ‘It’s not possible’ because it is possible” so long as you’re sequestered on a TV game show where you’re starved and pushed beyond your physical limits every single day. And what’s the most important goal someone can make in their life?

I Want to Lose Weight

See, the problem with most people is they are too vague. That’s why diets fail.

“This is about moderation,” Jackson says to the camera, clearly not understanding that Biggest Loser is the opposite of moderation. “It’s about budgeting my time. I’ve spent my time with them that I need to spend with them, and now I need to spend my time at the gym.”

And so we see the contestants self-training in an exercise montage to beat all montages.

Exercise-Montage

Click to see how the contestants worked six-hour workouts into their “real” lives.

During this segment, we learn that Danni has two jobs, and we’re led to believe that during this two-week trip home she is also working at both jobs.

We also see Henry and Joe challenge each other to lose 15 more pounds.

Then, of course, there’s lots of talk about the 5% and how it’s all their fault if they don’t get it. And now, just before another commercial break, the Moment of Truth.

The Moment of Truth

The contestants say goodbye to their families and fly back to the ranch.

Back to the Ranch.

See how we can keep them in the air like that, now that you’re not fat?

Back at the ranch, we see a good omen.

Rainbow

The Lord loves Biggest Loser.

We’re then treated to a montage of concern from the trainers:

  • Dolvett: “This is it, the moment we’ve all been waiting for.
  • Jillian: “It’s the week they all go home, which is the ultimate test.”
  • Bob: “We’re all walking into this weigh-in with one objective: you’ve got to hit 5% to be immune.”
  • Dolvett: “Now, as these contestants have been home on their own, if they get on the scale, and the proof is in the pudding.”
  • Jillian: “I’m really hoping these guys pull it off. Put up or shut up, guys. Now’s the time.”

I’m intrigued by Jillian’s last comment. Wasn’t she the one who freaked out last week because Jackson volunteered to go home? It seems like he “put up” the week before, and she was none too pleased by it.

We then see Allison Sweeney wearing her nicest leather dress.

The Gamemaster

“It’s S&M Day at the ranch.”

“While you were away, I issued you a challenge,” Sweeney says, confirming that she’s the evil mastermind behind it all. “What you did for the past two weeks could determine your entire future in this game.”

And, oh, everyone fusses and frets.

“This is tough,” Sweeney continues. “Two weeks on your own we have seen people struggle at this point having come so far. They just fall short.”

Bob chimes in. “I gotta tell ya, I just keep being reminded of last season with Chism, and they had to lose 5%, and everyone got immunity except for Chism.”

Shame on Chism

Shame on you, Chism, for only losing 11 pounds. I weep for your soul.

 

“There was not a dry eye in this room,” Bob continues, “and I just really hope and pray that history does not repeat itself.” Please, Baby Jesus, help the fatties abstain from their buttersticks.

Danni begins the weigh-in by telling the camera, “I keep saying i did everything I could, but then i start to second guess it and the one thing that’s lingering in my mind is, you know, I had to go back to two jobs. I had to deal with, you know, the pressures of family, and finding the balance of time was really difficult.” I call bullshit. There is no way that Danni worked her regular hours at her two jobs while still competing. It’s more likely that she showed up for a photoshoot, then continued her 6 hours/day regimen.

Anyway, with each weigh-in, we get to see the before and after shot.

Before-and-After

Click for this week’s before and after series.

To earn immunity, Danni has lose more than 9 and she loses 10.

Jackson’s next and he tells the camera, “I just saw Danni skate by, and Danni consistently pulls good numbers. I have not consistently pulled good numbers, so now I’m getting a little bit nervous.”

Oh the drama!

Jackson needs to lose more than 12 pounds and he loses 15 pounds.

Jillian says, “I’m thrilled for Jackson, but I’m not surprise ’cause I do have a lot of faith in him at this point.” Bear in mind that in the chart I included above, Jackson is the only contestant who has missed a biweekly total of 5% for 3 out of the 9 times I mentioned. He’s the most inconsistent of the remaining contestants, and has routinely lost small amounts of weight. But, of course, Jillian’s measuring stick is “beyond the scale.”

“That means a lot coming from Jillian,” Jackson laughs.

“I’ve seen your commitment,” Jillian assures him. “I’ve seen your dedication. I’ve seen you come through time and time again, and it’s like you seem like you’re in a really good space, and you seem like you get it and you want it and you’re passionate about it and I just — I feel good about where he’s at.”

Then Jackson says to the camera, “You know, I look back at the days when I was passed out on the ground and, you know, bent over a puke bucket, and I can’t believe that that same kid has now almost lost 100 pounds. Like, I still surprise myself every single day.”

And here’s the interesting part: Sweeney tells him, “Jackson, since America first saw you weigh in 10 weeks ago, you have lost 93 pounds.”

Ten weeks ago? But they were just gone for two weeks. So, really, it’s 11 weeks ago, if anything.

Next up, Joe needs to lose more than 13 pounds and he ends up losing 17 pounds, and there’s this weird, awkward laugh from everyone.

Happy Time

Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha.

Then Dolvett says, “Joe’s a different guy up there. I haven’t seen him smile this consistently since he’s been here, and it’s great to see you’ve lost the weight exterior, but I think the majority of the weight interior is shedding off, as well.” Somebody’s missed having his Biggest Loser Moments!

We then hear Joe share the message of the week, “I just got to prove to America that, hey, you can do this. I left the ranch for two weeks and I did it. So can you. Get started. Let’s do this.” There’s nothing more reliable than game show science!

Again, Sweeney says, “Joe, since America saw you weigh in 10 weeks ago, you have lost 120 pounds.”

Next, Jeff has to lose more than 14 and he loses 19.

“This is the guy that we’ve all been waiting for,” Bob says. “I mean, we’ve been waiting for this one that’s just gonna be so driven on a daily basis and take advantage of every single minute of the day. I hope that we just, like, bottle this up and just drink it ’cause you need it, Jeff.” And Jeff, if you can bottle that up, Bob and Jillian will be happy hawk it on the supplement market.

Flannel Bob`

“Have I mentioned how much I love flannel? I’m kind of a flannel freak.”

Finally, Gina’s up, and Sweeney knits her brow as she asks how she feels on the scale.

Allisons Concern Face

Sweeney’s concern face looks like it hurts.

“I’m just extremely nervous,” Gina says. “I’ll be really disappointed in myself if I don’t prove to America that you can do it on your own, and that was my goal.” She starts to sob. “And so for me to stand up here tonight and not have done it at home, I’m gonna be so disappointed in myself, but I do know that I did everything. I did not rest one day. I ate everything I was supposed to eat and nothing else, and if I didn’t hit my 5%, then it’s just not meant to be.”

Gina has to lose more than 8 and she loses…

COMMERCIAL TENSION BREAK!

When we return, Gina loses 10 pounds. In reaction, Gina thanks the person who is really responsible for her weight loss.

Jesus

“Well, I had some time between the healings and the peace-keepings, so you’re welcome.”

The fact the Gina was worried at all frustrates Jillian.

I dunno

“Dude, it’s not like your chance at winning a quarter-million dollars was on the line or anything.”

I mean, like, I understand you kind of want to negate and god forbid and just in case and you just don’t want to jinx it ’cause I do that all the time and it drives him insane and it’s like, sometimes it’s okay to just say, like, “I got it. I did it. I handled it. I got it under control.” And you do, honey. You do and you did and you are, and it’s awesome.

Anybody else remember episode 8 when Gina lost four pounds in a week and Jillian reamed her because it was “not a Gina number”? But five pounds a week is awesome? Oh, that’s right, we’ve redeemed Gina from the coffin and she’s no longer on the shit list. Everything Gina does from here on out is heroic.

“Yeah, I’m very proud of myself for the first time in a very long time,” Gina cries. “No, forever. I’m prouder of myself now than I’ve ever been in my whole life.” Of course, this is also the saddest statement she’s ever made her whole life too.

“I feel like the one thing that I still see in Gina is — and I think a good thing — I mean, she works very well under pressure and that’s a good thing in this house when it comes to the longevity of you being here.” WHAT?!?!? Gina works well under pressure!?!?! How — What — Who the fuck are you talking about? This is the woman who is repeatedly told that she can’t “handle it” when Bob’s an ass to her or when Jillian screams at her for no reason. Now she’s grace under pressure? WTF?

Gina says to the camera, “I want America to know that you can do it at home because I didn’t believe you could. I didn’t believe that you could, but I know you can.” And we see her squeal:

I did It America

Wow, two weeks at home proves everything Jillian says is Gospel Truth!

In the end, everybody has immunity.

The Board

And Gina still has highest total weight loss of the group.

“This season’s filled with rock stars,” Dolvett says to the camera. “Every time I turn around, I see another reason that I should smile about these individuals. It says a great deal from my side as a trainer that the message, the yelling, the motivation, it’s paying off, and that’s a good thing.”

The motivation? Ugh. I’ve absorbed the “motivation” they give for 10 literal weeks now and I’m not sure that has anything to do with it. Fear? Sure. Intimidation? Absolutely. Threats and harassment? Yup. But motivation? Meh.

So all the contestants get to stay on campus for the final weeks, but Sweeney has one final twist to share. The two biggest losers will guarantee a spot in the finals, while the other three will be in peril. Whoever loses the lowest percentage will fall below the red line and be automatically eliminated. The third and fourth place contestants will fall below the yellow line and America will vote on who leaves. Of course, Gina immediately begins freaking out about getting voted off because, well, America hates Gina.

But for now, the contestants are satisfied that they have provided definitive proof that anyone, anywhere can lose weight just like they did. Nevermind the fact that very few of their contestants actually keep it off.

In any case, this week’s Biggest Dickweed is Tim Gunn. Yeah, he’s not going to be on any more episodes, but he was so terrible that he gets to be a special guest dickweed this week.

If you think this is wrong, sign the petition to stop Biggest Loser and join our boycott.

Previous recaps

11 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    March 11, 2013 5:24 pm

    Ya know, Shannon, my hat’s off to you for watching this shit and reporting on it for us. I’m afraid that I would have lost any semblance of sanity I have if I had to watch that shit.

  2. March 11, 2013 8:35 pm

    Wow, there’s Shannon. Shannon’s back. There’s the Shannon that I know. I had so many belly laughs on this one, I’d be here most of the night if I tried to list them all. Gina always orders a salad but they bring her buckets of cheese…..God! LOLOLOL And all I can say about your hoodie is…”wow”. But I loved your hoodie vengance on that stick up his ass, blue suit with a red hanky wearin’, 13 y/o leg ooglin’, puttin’ blood fleshpants with a christmas sweater, mouth gapin’ open like witnessing a horrific murder, “size 10 is fat” sayin’, pantomimin’ jackass. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I adore your sense of humor! (But I still look around nervously while alone in elevators).

  3. Theresa permalink
    March 11, 2013 11:08 pm

    Tim Gunn getting thwacked over the head repeatedly…
    BEST. GIF. EVAR.

  4. Mulberry permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:15 am

    For some reason the description of this episode gave me the chills, in a Twilight Zone sort of way, or even like Orwell’s 1984. It’s that constant shrieking propaganda that uses health as a smokescreen, and really means YOU MUST FIT IN. Kissing ass would be much more dignified, but this is being absorbed by ass. Why don’t they just give Jillian et al a pair of jackboots instead of sneakers?

    • violetyoshi permalink
      March 12, 2013 12:37 pm

      There is an episode of Twilight Zone called Size 12 Looks Just Like You, which uncannily tells a story of the exact society we live in now regarding everyone being told to look the same.

      • violetyoshi permalink
        March 12, 2013 12:38 pm

        It’s Number 12 Looks Just Like You, oops.

        • The Real Cie permalink
          March 18, 2013 3:46 pm

          Yah, Size 12 is waaaay too fat, especially by Hollywood standards. If she is any bigger than a Size 4 Looks Just Like You, then she’s just a big fat Fatty McFatterson!
          Number 12 Looks Just Like You is one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.

  5. lifeonfats permalink
    March 12, 2013 6:41 pm

    Shannon, I don’t even think The Doctor himself would wear that monstrosity that’s supposed to be considered fashion, and he’s worn some strange things. Well, maybe the bowtie but that’s about it.

    Also, Danni looked much better in her “fatty jeans” than those gold pants. At least in her jeans it looked like she could move and bend.

    This post had me nearly on the ground rolling around in tears from laughing so much. Thanks for doing it, because if I had to watch TBL you’d have to throw me in the funny farm with some really good medication.

  6. emi11n permalink
    March 12, 2013 9:18 pm

    OH geez…BLOODY. FLESHPANTS. Stop it, you’re killing me!!!! :DDDDDDDDD

  7. DeAun permalink
    March 14, 2013 2:30 am

    When I saw the first picture of Sunny, I didn’t realize it was the before picture and I thought “Wow, Tim managed to pick out a lovely outfit!” (I wasn’t impressed with most of his selections). Then I realized it was the before picture and saw her in her new outfit. Yikes on the outfit (seriously….is this man blind with some of these combos??), and my first thought was, “She lost her boobs.” (not trying to be crass, but that outfit did nothing to show of any part of her, particularly if they were trying to show a “new” her. I am so sad she thought she looked bad in that red hot dress from before.

  8. The Real Cie permalink
    March 14, 2013 2:24 pm

    You’re hilarious, however what’s going on here is so sad. What’s even sadder is that this shit is so popular. I ain’t got the Sanity Watcher’s points to deal with it right now.

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