But this season I may just make it all the way to episode four…because I think the producers are trying to fix the game.
A crash course for those who don’t watch the show: contestants spend each day reflecting on why they struggle with their weight, learning new strategies for eating healthfully, and exercising 26 hours [because Loser trainer Jillian Michaels can scare two extra hours into even the most stubborn 24-hour-period].
Then at the end of each week, the contestants weigh in on a giant digital scale, with each contestant’s percentage of weight loss being ranked against his or her fellow competitors’ percentage. Typically, the two contestants who lost the smallest percentage of weight—were below the dread Yellow Line—were up for elimination. One Yellow Liner is then sent home based on the votes of his or her peers.
But in Season 14, which began January 6th, they’ve not yet messed around with votes or Yellow Lines. There’s one solitary red line separating out the person with the lowest percentage of loss… and POOF! – they go straight home. And in the first two episodes, the Red Liners have been two men, Nathan and TC. Big men who want to lose a lot of weight, and who did lose a lot of weight…just not quite enough to edge out the other Losers in Weeks One and Two — which are historically landslide weight loss weeks for everyone, as their systems are shocked by a small army of shrieking, tat-sleeved, tiny people.
“Wow, Molly…this is interesting and all but why the eff are you telling me this?”
Because I think the producers set this whole red line deal-y to greatly improve the odds that the show will be left with more female than male contestants as they near the finals. THE FIX IS IN, MAN! GAME OVER! GAME. OVER.
If they set the red line early-on in the game, there are decent odds that the contestants with the furthest to go (men) haven’t yet really separated from the pack and could land below the red line. And by not leaving it to a vote, they mitigate the risk inherent in giving contestants the option to keep a man over a woman. Even contestants know that having a man on your team could protect you mid-game, when they’re losing more weight and you’re still shielded by your team—as opposed to individual—performance.
Why do they want to stem the tide of male Losers? Well, naturally men have dominated The Biggest Loser over the last 13 seasons — nine male winners vs. four female. The men often have more weight to lose and typically build the lean muscle mass to incinerate poundage faster and more successfully. And the women are more likely to be short and to have bodies thrown entirely out of hormonal/muscle-y whack by childbirth. (Side note: If my two-year-old could stay awake long enough to watch Loser with me, I would side eye the Hell out of her.)
But one thing that men don’t have going for them as the last contestants standing on a weight loss reality TV show? Interesting prospects for semi-finalist make-overs. And, in the same vein, men just don’t have the same dramatic sartorial potential in a super-sized finale episode: cleavage to expose, hair to color and tease, pouts to paint with drippy, shiny gloss.
But the biggest downside to a male Loser? The failure to elicit that tremendous, collective sigh of relief from the viewing public when we see that a woman has shrunk down to a size that makes us more comfortable with her body.
We (the Royale With Cheese We) are far more interested in seeing women lose weight than men. We cluck our tongues loudest when women in the public eye gain weight. We shake our heads and say, what a shame with that face. If we could harness the resources we spend visually weighing pregnant and postpartum celebrities, we could revolutionize green energy in America.
Women losing weight means all their kibbles and bits are back into the shape, hoisted back into place. And that allows us to appreciate/objectify/bless women as collection of body parts. Y’know. Like God intended.
Only time will tell if NBC and The Biggest Loser get their way. And if a woman does win — or if women, even, dominate the season finale, we can test our theory a bit (especially considering the big ratings dive the two most recent Loser finales took…before crowning a male winner). And they can only engineer the game so much; there are regulations about truly fixing game shows.
Maybe I should lay off NBC. I mean, it isn’t really the network’s fault, is it, that viewers get a little more
titillated by invested in watching women “restore themselves” to a visual state we find pleasing, inspiring, or watchable?
But what do you think: is NBC fixing The Biggest Loser? And if they are, would it pay off? Do you think most people would rather see a women lose weight on TV than a man? And more importantly, WHO ATE ALL THE BAKED LAYS???