Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11: Premiere

I actually never thought we'd be at Season 11 of TBL. I figured that by now, the brand would have been taken over by the Biggest Loser Resorts. Interestingly, early in the episode we find out that half the contestants will be working out with Bob and Jillian and half will be working with two "Mystery Trainers." The ones who work with the unknowns will have four weeks of immunity before four of them will be sent home. The others will be on the usual elimination schedule. Interestingly, the "secret location" where the contestants training with the unknown trainers turns out to be the new Biggest Loser Resort at Malibu.

I was able to find some information on the web about the mystery trainers, and although trainer Brett Hoebe seems to have some training credentials, I'm afraid that Cara Castro, a boxer and actress, may be Trainer Kim, Part II.  Blogger Lisa Johnson writes:

She is very pretty and a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion with amazingly gorgeous hair.  She has been trying to establish an acting career since 2007 or so and is represented by agents in Hollywood.  It appears, however, she has zippo for certifications.  I can’t find one single reference to a fitness certification anywhere.  I also couldn’t find a reference to her being a personal trainer anywhere.  I don’t know if she’s ever had clients in real life.
NBC's execs will never learn: Being a hot girl does not make you qualified to be a trainer for morbidly obese people. It might be an anti-qualification, as Fitness-Model-Turned-Trainer-Kim proved.  Even the new guy seems excessively interested in showing off his own body, which doesn't bode well for the future of the show.  Apparently some of the contestants working with the new trainers had good numbers in their first week, but we will see if they have staying power. 

The players participated in a challenge to win a chance to choose their trainers. I thought it was interesting that more than half of those who could choose their trainers decided to work with the unknowns and get four weeks of immunity, rather than picking Bob and Jillian. But Bob and Jillian were surprised that anyone chose not to take four weeks of immunity. My thought pattern was that the trainers would be a big determiner of your success, and a bad trainer could do more harm than good. But the flip side is that if you get four weeks on the show learning new fitness and food habits, maybe you would be enough in "the zone" to do well even if you got sent home, while the contestants on earlier episodes who got sent home early on often don't do as well.

There are some very compelling contestants this time around, as usual. There is Rulon, a former Greco-Roman gold medalist.  His partner Justin is listed on the site as a "gym owner, city worker, and bounty hunter," and I don't think they really knew each other before getting on the show.  I find it surprising that both Justin and Marci own gyms but are obese enough to be on this show. Marci's daughter, Courntey, seems to have spent more time at their other business, a Dairy Queen, from her casting video. (By the way, have you checked out the instructions for casting videos? Now I know why the videos always seem so humiliating, because the instructions ask for that.  I guess they want to make sure people are willing to put it all out there if they are going to be on the show.)  There are identical twin police officers Dan and Don, who both have had tragedies related to their sons -- one had a son die of a drug overdose, while the other's son disowned him.  There is green team member Jennifer who just seems to kick butt. I think she's going to be another Tara. And of course, there is Arthur, who is over 500 pounds. Both Arthur and Courtney already lost over 100 pounds before being cast on the show, and are still the largest man and woman there.  Courtney is tough and determined and feisty. Arthur keeps flapping his huge hanging belly at Bob and Jillian when they ask him to do things, as if to say, "You can't expect anything of me, I'm fat." But he is able to do way more than I would have thought a man of his size could do, probably because he is still fairly young.

I know this show has warped my mind when I see 300-pound men weigh in and think, "They aren't that big, why are they on this show?" The women under 250 seem positively tiny. This is a very large cast, both in numbers and in starting weight.

The episode was really good for a premiere, other than the phony "mystery" of the new trainers.  Still, I'm feeling like this is the beginning of the end.  It doesn't seem like they can do anything truly new, other than bringing bigger and bigger contestants on. At some point they have to hit a limit of what's safe. 

Are you still watching? What do you think? Any favorites so far?


  1. I have to disagree that the video submission instructions ask that you be humiliated. It just says that it wants to see what your RL is like. If that's humiliating... well...

    I do agree, however, that they probably select the more humiliating videos. I know they weren't interested in people who wanted to lose weight to make it easier to collect bugula neritina from the underside of docks or those who spend their days on their butts because they're in front of a microscope going through a few thousand slides of marine larva.

  2. I totally agree about the mystery trainers deal coming off phony/lame. And I hate that we aren't getting to know the contestants who are training with them. I wish they would show more of them because I feel like I won't ever pull for them when they get back to the ranch since I won't get to know them as well until later.

    So far I really like Courtney and Jennifer. I'm also pulling for the twins to do well since they are from my home state. (However, it is a little sad how many contestants they've had from Oklahoma...)

  3. I love TBL and I love that this season they didn't make them humiliate themselves infront of their hometowns. I HATE those premiers. In the beginning all the contestants are my favorite - I'm cheering for them all. But I agree, I don't like the disconnect with the ones training "over there"... I think maybe the producers have underestimated the fact that we watch because we become invested in the people.. not their gimmicks.

  4. This is what I meant about humiliation:

    "Show us - don’t just tell us - why you need to lose the weight. Lift up your shirt or take off your shirt so we can see your weight... Take us to your favorite restaurant(s) and show us what you eat. What sets you apart from the crowd? How does your weight affect you? Your life? Your work? Your relationships? Show us photos!"

    I just always wondered why we saw women in bras and underwear, guys sitting in front of the TV with huge guts spilling over, etc. But those unflattering shots are good TV, have to admit.

  5. very glad you are doing your reviews again this season, I enjoy reading them.

    I was MORE attached to Jillian's black team the year she rode up on her motorcycle and 'saved them'. And they were training off site (for a couple weeks if I remember right) that year. So maybe there just wasn't much footage this week, but will be later.

    I also appreciate you didn't say who went home in your review (or maybe I just missed it).

    I actually read your review before deciding if I even wanted to watch this season. wondered if you would mind putting information on who went home IN COMMENTS (with a note it is there, so not to read if we do not want spoiler), so it is safe to read your post whether or not we have watched.

  6. Vickie, I think I'll just commit to not revealing any big surprises (I used to call my posts a no-spoiler zone), since if people just want a recap and want to know what happened they can go to the NBC site (you can bookmark this for future reference) for the official summaries. I try to focus more on discussion and analysis of what happened rather than just giving a summary.

    I'm sure we'll get more of the "Mystery" location next week. I would think they'd want to feature the new trainers to get people interested in sticking with the show.


"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