Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 4: There's always a mean one

At the beginning of this week's episode, Bob and Jillian each confront Red Team, specifically Melissa, about throwing the weigh-in two weeks in a row. Last week, Melissa tearfully protested this attempt to question her honesty, and the waterworks came on again. Bob caved and decided not to push the issue, but Jillian made it clear that she wasn't going to pretend to believe a lie, no matter how hard Melissa argued that it wasn't a lie. At first, Lance and Melissa were going to take a stand and refuse to work with Jillian because she wouldn't apologize for her comments. Then, Melissa seems to realize that this would be shooting themselves in the foot, and in a sickening little scene, convinces Lance that they should do what it takes to succeed on the show, which includes working with Jillian. Melissa smirks and we go on to watch them pick on Green Team for the rest of the episode.

At one of the commercials, my husband and I asked ourselves why these two are on the show. They didn't have a lot of weight to lose, at least by Biggest Loser standards. They don't have a really compelling personal story. They don't seem particularly interested in losing weight, as evidenced by Melissa's baloney with the weigh-ins. Usually most Biggest Loser contestants are the overweight people who have been hearing "you have such a pretty face" their whole lives. Melissa and Lance aren't particularly attractive fat people, physically and especially personality-wise. We have been rooting for their elimination since the first week.

And then it hit us -- that's the point. Lance seems like an OK guy, but Melissa is repulsive. Her manipulative streak and her smirky, catty attitude had to come out in the casting. She was chosen specifically to be the heel, because the producers think that rooting against horrible contestants (think Tracey last season, Joelle in Season 7, Vicky and mean-girl flunkie Heba in Season 6, Jackie in Season 5, Heather in Season 3). Season 2 was my favorite, and I don't think the producers had hit on this formula yet, because no one sticks out in my mind as someone I was rooting against week after week. Even Neil in Season 4 wasn't specifically mean, he was just cocky and didn't try very hard. Heather started out the mean-girl trend, and Vicky perfected it.

You could argue that these contestants aren't really mean but the show is edited to make them look that way (Vicky's argument on the "Where are they now" special). The effect is still the same -- the producers think we want someone to root against. The casting process is arduous enough and there are enough people who want to be on the show that producers are able to pick and choose for whatever "types" they want on the show, and they seem to pick relatively high-status, ambitious, but less-attractive women for their Nasty Girls. I think this strategy is backfiring, though. I'm sticking with the show despite the drama, not because of it. I want to see people work hard and make their dreams come true. But instead, the producers set up these drama dynamics and throw things, like a 2-pound disadvantage, into the mix that make it certain that the meanies are able to bully the people they don't like.

The ability to hand out a 2-pound disadvantage was won by the Red Team in another dumb challenge -- contestants run around and around a mile loop, picking up key cards, some of which give points and some which don't. Teams need to collect 3 points to win. I really wondered if the producers had fixed this challenge (which would be illegal, so I doubt it), because it gave the Red Team another week of immunity and another chance to pick on their enemies and reward their friends. They also got to hand out a "no access to gym" sign, which they gave to John, whose injuries prevent him from doing much in the gym anyway, and a "no elimination vote," which they gave to Michael. The 2-pound disadvantage was the biggie, and Melissa smirked as she handed it to Miggy, whom she has been gunning for since the first week. With immunity, Melissa could have thrown the weigh-in again, but Jillian predicted that she wouldn't dare after all her tearful speeches about her "integrity." Because she knew she was being watched, though, Melissa had a miraculous 11-pound loss in a week that didn't matter.

In another challenge, contestants had to haul themselves up in some kind of construction apparatus to 120 feet in the air to compete for phone calls home (and the ability to give two other teams calls home). Green Team doesn't think anyone would give them calls to their families, even with Migdalia's husband set to deploy soon for Afghanistan, so they give it a good effort, but it turns into a battle between the superstar Tongans on the Gray Team and the Red Team. Red Team almost pulls it out but Gray Team beats them by seconds. Gray team lets Red Team call their kids, and also gives Green Team the call home. We can see that Miggy and Migdalia are both feeling defeated and that Migdalia is having an especially tough time.

This week's elimination was particularly painful. We saw Green Team destroy everyone else in the opening challenge and we know how determined they are. I have been rooting for them -- I think that some of the other contestants have not been giving them a fair chance because they are immigrants from Puerto Rico -- because they are tough and don't play games. They both seem to feel totally demoralized by the bullying by the Red Team and, when they were given the 2-pound disadvantage, I think they gave up. Migdalia has decided that being on the show is not worth everything she is giving up, and wants to go home and see her husband before he leaves. Green Team doesn't give a huge speech, they just matter-of-factly say that Migdalia wants to go home. They don't feel they owe anyone a huge explanation, because when people on other teams asked to be sent home, the rest of the contestants honored their choice. Yet Darrell on Black Team almost votes the other way because they didn't "share their heart" with the other contestants. Red Team tries to talk everyone into knocking out Miggy, because Migdalia seems easier to push around. Luckily, enough people listened to Migdalia's request for her to be able to go home and see her husband before he ships out.

What a frustrating episode! I would really like to see Melissa knocked off the show so I could enjoy it again. Luckily, I think some of the other contestants are tired of her too. Once the show goes to singles, she won't be able to lean on Lance's big weight losses, so I think her days are numbered.


  1. I completely agree that Melissa needs to go because she is there for the money and the manipulation. However, the green team annoys me because they think everyone is out to get them. Just get in the gym and stop making excuses! The 2-pound disadvantage didn't matter anyway, but it seemed like they still blamed it for the reason they were going home! I want to see them succeed, and I know Melissa doesn't like them, but get over it and push yourself without the excuses!

  2. I'm not a total believer in the idea that a weigh-in can be thrown. We just don't have that degree of control over what we're going to weigh on a given day, even if we do everything perfectly. If we could all say, "On XXX day I will weigh exactly XXX" and then have that happen, we wouldn't need shows like the Biggest Loser in the first place!

    However, since it happened 2 weeks in a row, I'm willing to believe that she threw the weigh-in intentionally. I noticed Melissa's stomach, too, but I didn't make the connection that she had water-loaded. The giveaway for me was Michael's reaction. If she were telling the truth, he might have sprung to her defense. I was expecting him to say something like, "Don't speak to my wife that way." Instead, he just stood there with his head down and didn't even look at her. He knew.

  3. Oh, and when referring to Melissa's husband, I meant Lance, not Michael. Sorry about that.

  4. What I do not get is Jillian continuing to say that it is NO BIG DEAL if she was manipulating the weigh in (yet, WAS)...but that she just wanted her to be honest about it...just between her and Jillian. Um...yeah..and the whole world. LOL AND....the other thing I do not get is HOW would one manipulate the weigh-ins? I guess a gallon of water is about 8 pounds, drinking a gallon right before weigh-in would manipulate it. (??) is not like she was not exercising..and I do not think they are allowed to pig-out on campus. They never say WHAT they think she did to manipulate the weight those two weeks. I was sort of confused.

  5. Some of the Biggest Loser contestants in one of the Australian seasons mentioned how they waterload. I don't remember the details, but it has to do with loading up on higher sodium foods, I think, so you retain water better? It came up when they were bringing a player back into the game based on who lost the most weight from the time they weighed in at the start of a week to the end. Big Wal, I think - he went over and had "gained" since he left the show, so he was disqualified.

  6. This is the first time I have been to your site and I love your thoughts on the BL. I couldn't agree with you more about the "mean" players each season. I also like to watch for the show and inspiration and not the drama. I live in a drama filled world and would just like to see the inspiration. Good post!


"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