When a Reality Show Is More
Than a Game
Ever since the show began,
I've been a fan of The Biggest Loser. I think it has a positive message:
it is possible to lose weight through hard effort and putting your nose
to the grindstone, and not through cheating or quick fixes. There are
obviously heaps of people who agree with me: the show is in its seventh
As much as I enjoy the show, there is one thing I don't like, and it's
typically what gets me in the door for a "competitive reality series,"
and that is that The Biggest Loser is a game above all else.
At it's heart, the show boils down to Survivor: Fat Camp. There are
reward challenges and immunity challenges, which is nice; I like to see
the various games that are created. After that, everyone weighs in and
whoever is below the "elimination line" is eligible to be cast out.
After that, a vote determines who stays and who goes. Unfortunately,
that vote can have two-pronged consequences. Players will vote trying to
win the game by voting out someone who has more weight to lose later on,
or voting someone from the other alliance, without regard to their
Personally, I would enjoy the series much more if the elimination aspect
was removed entirely. You could still have reward challenges, and weekly
weigh-ins for prizes and stuff, but you'd no longer have to deal with
voting out people.
Normally I don't mind the vote-out. There are lots of times that I like
it; because we get a blind-side or power shift and it makes for really
good television. But it doesn't belong on Biggest Loser because the
people who are on the show are there for a very specific reason: to lose
gobs of weight. It seems needlessly cruel to choose between someone
who's 400 pounds and 425 pounds, and send one of those people home.
I understand that the competitive reality genre depends on "cruelty," in
blindsides, depriving people of things, or playing on their most basic
fears. I also know that the contestants sign up knowing that they could
be sent home any time, and to expect twists and turns. But when dealing
with something as important as weight loss, I think an exception should
Travis Eberle can be reached at