This is a post I originally wrote at my old blog, The Dodson Citizen, nearly three years ago. I’ve updated it for publication here.
One of my guilty pleasures is watching the television show The Biggest Loser on NBC. No matter what sporting event may be on (and most of the time, when I’m watching TV, it has something to do with sports, if not an actual game), Thursday nights at 8 find me drawn to NBC to watch the weight-loss/competition show. I would say that I can’t explain why I do it, but I’m about to explain why I watch, and why I feel I’m doing it for all the wrong reasons. I can list five of them, each with a bit of shame:
- It breaks my rule of not watching “reality” television. Gone are the days when primetime television was full of scripted dramas and comedies. While there are still some of both on the air, “reality” television has come to fill in major chunks in broadcast (and cable) schedules. This probably began when Survivor on CBS became an instant hit right out of the box, and then every show that followed borrowed pieces of the formula or tried to offer the same show with a twist. Now I say I have a rule of not watching it, but I do have exceptions: The Amazing Race, The Voice and Chopped, just to name a few. Most everything else in the genre is a no-watch zone, except for Biggest Loser. So, I’m breaking one of my rules by sticking with Biggest Loser.
- Perhaps the worst of the reasons: it has yet to inspire me to do what the contestants are doing. If you know me personally, you know that I could stand to lose some weight. Yet week after week, I watch these obese contestants sweat and grunt and workout while I’m parked in my favorite chair watching the show. I’ve had gym memberships, tried to watch what I eat and be more active, yet I will sit there and watch these contestants, and the breakthrough moments, and the rivers of tears they cry from week to week like I have to be there. Still isn’t making me lose any weight, though.
- Alison Sweeney. I know it’s wrong to watch the show just for the host. Alison Sweeney’s main role on the show is to introduce and give play by play for the “challenges,” and to supervise the most dramatic part of each show, the weigh-in-where the contestants see how much weight they have lost from the previous week’s show. Oh yeah, she’s paid to look good, so I watch for Ali. Another dirty little secret: I have had a crush on her since she started on Days of Our Lives. She has been a cast member for well over twenty years, though that run is about to end soon. She has also had her issues with her weight in the past, so she makes the perfect host. And she is great eye candy. So yes, I’m watching for the eye candy.
- The competition itself isn’t fair. I think men have an advantage in the whole competitive part of the show. Generally the men are heavier, they lose more weight, so their percentages are often higher than the women who compete. That’s not to say a woman can’t win-I’ve seen at least two or three women win the whole thing-but it’s harder for them. And as such, the men have an advantage. However, I can’t imagine or think of any other way to determine who wins. The amount of poundage each contestant loses wouldn’t work; as I said before the men lose more weight. I would rather no one wins per se, because if you’re changing your life in that manner, all of them are winners. But they have to have that $250,000 carrot at the end of the rainbow, so they give it all they’ve got, while “playing the game.” Despite that, I still watch.
- Finally, the show is starting to decline. Ratings for the show have been down for several seasons now, which may mean that the public is starting to tire of the show. Which isn’t good news for NBC, which is struggling in the ratings in primetime throughout all nights on the schedule (save for Sundays, when Sunday Night Football is on). The Biggest Loser had been one of its better performers. However, cancelling the show would only create another hole in the schedule for NBC to fill.
So there you have it. I know I should stop watching, but I’m watching anyway. Do you have any shows that are guilty pleasures? Shows that you know you should not watch, but can’t look away? If so, leave them in the comments.