The Biggest Loser Connection

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Uncategorized
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By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

On Tuesday, I watched a few minutes of The Biggest Loser before the finale of The Voice.

A few years back, I was hooked on The Biggest Loser. It’s a fun and inspiring show. However, like all of the reality shows I have been addicted to, its charm and novelty wore off. I didn’t start disliking the show, it’s just that reality TV like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and The Biggest Loser become ultra-repetitive after a few seasons because as Bon Jovi said, “It’s all the same / only the names will change.”

During the final weigh-in on Tuesday, I wondered about the host Alison Sweeney and trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, who are the longest tenured personalities on the show. I wondered if, after all these seasons, they are getting tired of the show. It must be like the movie Groundhog’s Day in which Bill Murray’s character constantly relives the same day. Every season, the trainers start with new contestants, go through all the same lessons and struggles, get the finale, and then it’s over. Then, they start from scratch, again and again.

Alison, Bob, and Jillian of NBC's The Biggest Loser.

Alison, Bob, and Jillian of NBC’s The Biggest Loser.

That has to get boring and maybe even frustrating. How do they do it? Why do they do it?

Then I realized I do the same thing as a teacher.

Every term, we teachers start with new students, go through all of the same lessons and struggles, get to the finale, and then it’s over. Then, we start from scratch, again and again.

I can’t speak for Bob and Jillian, but for me, it hasn’t gotten boring.

Just like on a reality TV show, the basic structure of a class doesn’t change, but there are so many variables that make every class and every group of students a brand new adventure. Who are my students as individuals? How will they mesh as a group? How will they mesh with my personality? How will they react to the lessons and activities? The answers to these questions and countless others make every class different.

Perhaps the formula of reality TV wears off on me because I don’t actually get to know the people on the show. Typically, contestants on reality TV just fill a role through the lens of the show’s editing and storytelling; there’s the sweetheart, the villain, the comedian, and so on, all of which strips real people down to the level of stock characters. However, behind the cameras, each season might be a new adventure for the trainers and judges on these shows.

Or they’re just getting paid lots and lots of money.



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