Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Biggest Loser Week 7: Jillian Will Make You Cry

At the beginning of this week's episode, when the Black Team comes back from the elimination without Dina, the debriefing confirmed my suspicion that Dina got sent home in Week 6 not because she wasn't an asset to the team (she was) but because she wasn't part of the core clique in the Black Team: Daniel, Shay, Abby, and Amanda. Liz said that if they had to send one of those people home, there would be some real tears.

Tears were the theme of the week, with Jillian purposely pushing her team's buttons to get them to think about the issues that brought them to the point of desperation that is required to sign up for "The Biggest Loser" casting calls: Morbidly obese and yet willing to appear on national TV without a shirt on. There were some serious conversations which probably did help the contestants in their quest for answers, but were painful to watch on TV. Shay had to admit that she was powerless to make her mother love her or stay alive for her. Amanda revealed her unwillingness to take risks and step into a position of power because she's "always been the fat girl." Most heartbreakingly, Abby had to admit her conflicted feelings about giving herself permission to survive the loss of her husband and two children and be willing to love anyone again. It wasn't said explicitly, but I think she felt on some level that to ever remarry or have children again would be a betrayal. If there is one thing we've learned about Abby, it is that she is very giving and loving, so withdrawing from love and possible loss meant withdrawing from life for her. It was pretty clear (or was edited to show) that this was a breakthrough week for Abby.

This was Faceoff Week, and in a very mundane challenge, the Blue Team won the right to set up the pairings. They were set up to be pretty fair: People of similar size/ability weighed in against each other. They were almost all boy/boy girl/girl, except the pairing of Liz vs. Daniel and Rudy vs. Shay. This time, the whole Faceoff theme didn't come across as intense in the same way that it was last season.

I think the producers chose to emphasize the whole emotional healing aspect instead of the competition, which made this week's episode a giant downer. I am not the kind of person who likes to watch other people ugly cry on TV. I think we need to see a little bit of this to understand the contestants, but at this point, I think it would be nice to see the contestants feeling a little more powerful and sassy instead of watching them cry. The one exception might be Daniel: He is obviously either overeating or has some sort of medical issue, because he should be having better weight losses. Last week there was a minor discussion of the power struggle he felt with his mother over his weight, and maybe he has turned Jillian into Mean Mommy and is still fighting that battle.

The Black Team won a two-pound advantage in a baseball pickup challenge, which was supposedly going to feature Derek Jeter. You could tell the contestants were pretty thrilled, until they realized that Jeter's appearance was via a taped message on the Jumbotron. As a consolation, they got a little backyard barbecue with Curtis Stone, who at least appeared in person and didn't just send an episode of "Take Home Chef." After enjoying their turkey burgers on portabello buns, they could choose to use two pounds for one faceoff or split it up between two. They threw it away on Amanda, who got creamed in the weigh-in by her former partner Rebecca. Allen, who has been awesome this season in all the challenges and doesn't even look like a fat guy anymore, was the only one on Blue Team to lose the weigh-in to Danny, who is the one Black Team player I like and is, of course, will be eliminated as soon as the Black Team gets a swing at him. He saved himself this week by winning immunity.

The weigh-in this week was record-breaking. At the beginning of the episode, Rudy said he wanted to beat Dane's record last season of losing 100 pounds in 8 weeks. Dane showed up at the weigh-in (looking like he may have relapsed a little, unfortunately) to watch the weigh-in. He said that he and 12 other former contestants were doing a triathlon the next day. Bob said, "How many people can say they've done a triathlon? I can't!" Of course I yelled "I have!" at the television. Rudy beat the record, for a total of 101 pounds in 7 weeks, which is just incredible. Luckily there are doctors all over "The Biggest Loser," because a weight loss like that would probably be dangerous if it wasn't medically supervised.

The Black Team had to fulfill Liz's prophecy and choose from its core clique. Danny was safe because he was that week's Biggest Loser on Black Team. Luckily for the rest, Abby volunteered to go home. After her breakthrough moment, you could tell that she was chomping at the bit to go live a real life in the real world.

That's the thing about this season (and last): The eliminations systematically eliminate the healthiest, most normal players and leave behind the craziest gameplayers. Blue Team is pretty great (except for Tracey) this season, but Black Team is turning into a group of middle-school girls: Everyone left seems wrapped up in his or her own drama, and is willing to throw any other person under the bus and try to make it look like it was a hard thing to do. I was glad that Danny made the case that Daniel has now had two chances on the show and has not made the most of them. It needed to be said.

How many weeks until Makeover Week? I am hoping that Allen, Danny, and Rebecca are all there for it. I can't wait to see them glammed up. That's my main motivation to keep watching at this point.


  1. I'm thinking the same about make-over week... and Daniel. Does he have some sort of medical condition? I doubt it. They'd have ferreted that out by now. I just figure he's hit that big stall after losing all the weight he has so far.

    as for the ugly crying, I'm really getting tired of it. It's one thing to get at the issues, the other thing to make a spectacle of it on TV. Kudos to Amanda for telling Jillian she wasn't playing that game with the cameras in her face.

  2. Well written! But I have to add that it bothered me that Jillian was coming across as a therapist or something. She's not trained to do therapy (as far as I know) so maybe she should leave that to her mother.

    I understand the point of it, but don't think it should have gone down that way. Since most people are over weight due to some sort of an emotional situation or connection to food, the trainers should do what they do best and deal with the exercise end of it. Leave the head issues to those who are trained to deal with them.

    I love Abby and was sad to see her go but she was ready to re-enter her life. Yes, Daniel is producing very limited results for someone who has had more than his share of opportunity so it might be time for that cowboy to go for a ride.

  3. Great post Jen and it caught me up on the first hour (I missed).

    Abby was on the radio this morning (she is from NE Texas area -) and they recorded a Q&A session for their website (video) but I have dial-up and cannot download.

    They did say Abby hinted that there was a TBL romance going on between two contestants (not her) . . .


"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