Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Biggest Loser: Codependents

Last night watching "The Biggest Loser," I couldn't help but notice that the theme of the night was codependency. The most obvious case was Tara (green team), who was so concerned about Laura not "pulling her weight" that she started screwing up herself. At the beginning of the show, it did seem like Laura was lazy, but she has really stepped it up, even if she's not the Superwoman that Tara is. I don't think many people could keep up with Tara. There was also Shanon and Helen (pink team), who each seem to focus on taking care of the other to the point where they lose focus on their own goals. In both of these teams, the stronger player did so much monitoring and "encouraging" that the weaker partner seemed to feel demoralized. It's obvious that Mike (brown team) will probably do better on the show when his dad leaves. He and his father are always so worried about letting each other down that they seem sad all the time. And even Dane (black team) said he found it easier to focus now that his partner is at home.

I won't spoil the surprise but I screamed with shock and pure glee when I heard what the eliminated player decided to do. It is something that is so totally cool that I was completely thrilled that this player got sent home just to do this thing.

The issue with "The Biggest Loser: Couples" is that people tend to come on the show with the person that they have the most issues with. Last season it was really cool to see Michelle and her mother work things out, but in most cases, people seem so much stronger when they are focusing on themselves. A couple of seasons ago, Dan (orange team) did so much better and grew up so much when his mother got sent home. One of the strongest teams that they've ever had on the show, Bernie and Brittany, seemed to be successful simply because they were strangers before the show and didn't bring a whole bunch of emotional baggage with them to the ranch.

I realized the other day when I felt so frustrated that my husband had a holiday (President's Day) and I didn't how much I had been planning my time around his schedule and how much of a relief it is when he's at school and I can make decisions about what to do without considering someone else's schedule. So instead of being angry that he had a holiday (which would be really unfair), I just talked with him about it and about the things I needed to do. I couldn't take the day off just because he had one, so I didn't. I planned things so we could have lunch together but other than that, I did the things I needed to do.

It's not that he ever expected that I rearrange my life to suit him, but I realize that I spent my childhood watching my mom juggle things around my dad's time. It's interesting now that he's retired that she is having to do things differently now -- she's realizing that she can't worry about keeping him entertained and happy because he's always around. It wasn't just that, either. My dad is an extremely picky eater, so it was sometimes fun on the nights he had to work to be able to eat one of the many things that we all liked that he didn't.

Yet another example of how legal equality doesn't always equal practical gender equality (something that figured into my dissertation fairly heavily). We can have equal rights but still have unequal ideas in our head. It's up to us to do that mental housecleaning. As Rachel Maddow says: "Scrub, Rinse, Repeat: Because this is going to take a while."


  1. " equality doesn't always equal practical gender equality (something that figured into my dissertation fairly heavily). We can have equal rights but still have unequal ideas in our head."

    Brilliant! So glad I found your blog.

  2. This is a great post and it really is true that a lot of time we lose the focus on ourselves by caring for everyone else's needs first. We need to remind ourselves every once in awhile that we need to take care of ourselves first in order to care for others!

  3. Nice post. 'Biggest Loser' is a great show to watch, and the codependency dynamics seem to be particularly strong this season. Frankly, I'm hoping for a return to individual players next season, as I think the team thing has run it's course.

    It can be challenging to manage your own needs while in relationship. I always tell people it's like what they say at the start of an airplane flight: put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others.



"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07