Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 3: Learning Lessons

Yikes! I thought I had posted my review here but accidentally posted it on my cobwebby political blog toledolefty. If anyone were reading it, they probably would wonder why I was suddenly reviewing a reality TV show when I've barely posted anything in months. By the way, I love doing my recaps, but did you know that you can watch the shows and bonus scenes online?

This episode started out with a twist, again. This time, the teams would be divided up in to "Students" and "Teachers." Students would not be able to work with the trainers at all -- they would have to get all their information from the Teacher, who would act as their trainer for the week. Only the Student's weight would count for elimination. Brown and Purple were paired up since each team only had one player. Which players would be the Students and Teachers would be decided by the winner of a temptation: The contestants were confronted with two giant troughs of M&Ms (5 calories each) and the team that ate the most would determine each player's role.

Not a lot of teams participated in the temptation because they didn't want to sabotage their weight loss. White Team and Pink Team each participated: One player from Pink ate two M&Ms, White only had one. Pink Team won and immediately realized that if they didn't set things up fairly, they would be marking themselves as targets. This was another case of "I've got the power! Oh no, what do I do with it?" They tried to be as fair as possible and then Migdalia from Green Team was still mad at them, because she thought she should be the Student and she was the teacher. They seemed to have learned their lesson because they didn't get any advantage from setting up the teams -- they tried too hard to be nice -- but still made an enemy. Power on "The Biggest Loser" is a two-edged sword, but it also seems to be a huge temptation for contestants on the show.

Because Migdalia was angry but stonewalling about it, Jillian decided to target her for special attention. Jillian tried her usual strategy of working the contestant to exhaustion and asking confrontational questions. Migdalia wouldn't play, though. She kept taking bathroom breaks or otherwise disengaging when her defenses started to crack. Jillian was afraid to push her too hard but, at Bob's urging, she finally decided to "Get Mean." Migdalia finally did start to cry, and then, as Jillian had feared, Migdalia walked out and wanted to quit the show completely. It was clear that Green Team wanted exercise and diet advice but neither came to the show expecting to change in any other way. Bob stepped in and tried to explain that weight loss really required more than that, but finally gave in and said that he would help them however they wanted. What was interesting was that later in the week, after having some time to think about it, Miggy and Migdalia agreed that maybe Jillian did have something to offer them.

The challenge this week was a funny one. The Teachers had a long spool of wide colored ribbon that they were told to string along a big playground for one of the Students to unravel, blindfolded, following the Teacher's instruction. The team that finished first would win immunity. Each team was told they would draw to see which player got to unwind which ribbon. Pink and White teams got especially ambitious winding up and tying the ribbons around playground equipment and ribbon. Then, in a final twist, it turned out that each Student would unwind his or her own Teacher's ribbon. Trying to be nasty backfired, as neither Pink nor White made much progress in untangling the mess they had made. It looked like Red Team would take the prize for sure, because Lance had been a professional diver in Texas (my guess is that he worked for the oil industry) and was used to working blind. Gray Team was also doing great, though, and when Red ran into one of White Team's huge knots, Gray pulled ahead and won immunity. This was one challenge where once the winner was deterimined, everyone quit. There were too many knots on that playground to be undone with anything but scissors.

Gray Team is a great pair. They are down-to-earth, no drama, and they just work hard, week after week. They didn't take things easy because they had immunity. Michael of White Team, however, appeared to be taking advantage of the fact that his weight loss "didn't count" to take the week off. He managed to alienate a lot of the other players because even though he is the biggest player in Biggest Loser history (and we've heard that a lot), he doesn't seem to see this as serious business. He acts like the show is all one big joke, and hte other players start to get angry. Gray Team is given the option to switch one pair of Teachers and Students, and to prove a point to Michael, they switch White Team. Now Michael's weight loss counts. Michael wasn't the only one to do this -- Red Team also plays the game, and Melissa throws the weight loss (her stomach looks distended and it seems that she water-loaded) and only loses one pound. She tries to pretend that she is disappointed but her eyes are sparkling. Jillian and Bob both ask her to admit that she is gameplaying and she just fakes indignation. Jillian walks out of the weigh-in in disgust. Melissa may think she has gotten away with something, but my guess is that there will be a reckoning soon.

They didn't expect this to matter, they thought they would just get Michael's attention with the switch, but White Team falls below the yellow line. Maria begs everyone to keep Michael there because he obviously needs the help. Though the combined Brown & Purple Team votes for Michael to go home, everyone else decides to keep him there. My guess is that there will be some Gray-White fireworks in the next episode.

Overall, this episode seemed to show that trying to play the game is dangerous business, and that players should focus on weight loss and not in trying to get smart and play tricks. But maybe I'm just a good Student.


  1. I have been watching the show since last season - largely due to your reviews :)

    I agree that Grey is down to earth and ready to do whatever it takes to lose weight without losing integrity, and I admire that.

    Interesting when it's couples though, the very people that helped you get fat are supposed to help you get thin. But I think the dynamic of the relationship has to change first.

    White team lost so Mom cried and put her son before her as she's probably done his whole life. Instead of fighting for herself and her treasured spot on TBL, she gave it up for him, citing his imminent death if he doesn't continue, even though it's obvious Son doesn't take any of it seriously if you go by this week's episode. So Mom gives the world to Son but Son doesn't appreciate it.

    And Green - Daughter was so very ANGRY at Jillian for saying her 9 yr old will turn out just like her. Mom and Daughter talked and Daughter eventually told Mom why she was upset. Bob came into the room and Daughter didn't take that opportunity to tell him why she was angry at Jillian. If she doesn't learn to express her anger in a healthy way to the person she's angry at, she will be fat forever. Now, Mom did tell Bob why Daughter was angry, but then Mom is probably used to speaking for Daughter so Daughter never has to speak for herself.

    And Red - don't get me started. That woman bugs me to no end. I'm almost to the point of rooting for that team to fall below the yellow line so she can be voted off. I think Hubby will do much better without her game-playing influence. She is the 'front man' of that team and most likely the marriage as well. I think he will need to learn to take the lead sometimes in order to be successful in weight loss as his wife seems to be there just for the game.

  2. Great observations, Robin. People think weight loss is all about calories when it's also about learning to live in a way that makes weight loss possible.


"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