The Biggest Loser (2004-) is a Reality TV show on NBC where a number of overweight individuals compete to lose the greatest amount of weight while living at a special ranch. The contestants are divided into two (or more) teams, each of which works out with a specific trainer, while facing temptations and reward challenges. At the end of each week, each contestant is weighed, and the participants vote out one of the two contestants who lost the least percentage of their body weight during the week. The final remaining contestant wins $250,000. A second prize of $100,000 is awarded to the contestant who loses the most weight after being eliminated as a motivation to continue to lose weight after elimination.The show is currently hosted by Alison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives (formerly, Caroline Rhea of Sabrina the Teenage Witch). Bob Harper has been a trainer since the first season. Jillian Michaels was a trainer for 7 seasons, but left the show after season 11 finished. Two new trainers, Cara Castronova and Brett Hoebel, were introduced in season 11, but were not brought back for season 12. Pro tennis player Anna Kournikova and personal trainer Dolvett Quince were the new trainers for season 12, with Anna leaving at the end of the season, leaving Bob and Dolvett as the trainers for season 13. Jillian returned for season 14, with herself, Bob, and Dolvett as the trainers on 3 teams.As of February 2013, thirteen full seasons and two specials have aired in the United States, with the 14th season underway, as well as 22 seasons in 11 other countries.
Tropes present in this series include:
Abusive Parents: Season 10 contestant Ada has been the black sheep of her family pretty much her entire life, dating back to a brother's death when she was a toddler. Not only was she emotionally abused by her parents, her family did not make any contact with her while she was on the ranch. Jessica from the same season suffered abuse from her mother, as well. However, both Ada and Jessica reconcile with their parents by the end of the season.
When Ada's mother was interviewed at the end of Season 10, what was subtitled was very different from what she actually said. While the subtitles made it seem like she was proud of her daughter, she was actually mocking how fat Ada was.
Cluster F-Bomb: The reaction during week 14's weigh in from all four trainers and several contestants in season 11, when Courtney lost 1 pound, 2 pounds short of what was needed to keep herself on the ranch, therefore automatically eliminating not only her, but her trainer Brett, from the competition. The censorship bleeps were heard for about 30 seconds after the final number popped up on the scale.
For instance, first season winner Ryan Benson lost a total of 130 pounds, which is roughly the equivalent of two Goonies (excluding Sloth and Chunk). Who wouldn't be motivated by that? We'll tell you who wouldn't be motivated — anyone who has met Ryan Benson in real life. Benson's current weight is around 300 pounds, which is just 30 pounds less than what he weighed at the start of The Biggest Loser.
Benson isn't an anomaly — almost every Biggest Loser winner has gained back a chunk of the weight he or she lost on the show. The worst example is Season 3 winner Eric Chopin. Chopin began the show clocking in at 400 pounds, and won after successfully dropping 200. Once the show was over, however, Chopin bounced (ahem) right back up to 370 pounds like he got stung by Earth's mightiest bee. It's like some kind of mummy curse the contestants can't escape.
The unfortunate truth is that people on The Biggest Loser don't do anything but train for the entirety of the season — the show's producers cover all their expenses during filming. It's not like they're going to work and then driving over to the gym to film some sit-ups. They aren't doing anything except training, under constant supervision, for however many weeks production lasts.
Once the show is over, they go back to their normal 9-to-5 lives, which typically do not include controlled diet and exercise. They cannot possibly continue a weight loss program as intense as the one on the show, and in all fairness, if you'd spent the past two months sweating through a purple T-shirt with the word "LOSER" written across it while punishingly in-shape people scream into your face about taking responsibility for your love handles, you'd probably drive straight home and order all of the pizza in the world, too, and not just because there's no longer anyone there to keep you from doing it.
Wait, it gets better. People who watch the show are more likely to have a negative view of physical activity. A recent study showed that the grueling way exercise is portrayed on The Biggest Loser actively discourages viewers from wanting to participate. Basically, overweight people watching the show see other overweight people crying, throwing up, and passing out during their exercise sessions while all of the thin personal trainers just yell and berate them. The end result may be inspirational, but The Biggest Loser seems to go out of its way to make the actual process of weight loss seem like thankless fucking misery.
Food Porn: Both in attempts to tempt the contestants, and when celebrity chefs give them cooking lessons.
Foregone Conclusion: The eliminated contestants will return eventually, it's in the contestants' contracts.
Genre Savvy: Subverted season after season when the contestants who claim to have watched several seasons before coming on the show completely freak out during the initial workouts.
Heroic Sacrifice: Non-fatal variety: Some contestants, when a team must vote to eliminate someone, will ask to be voted off so that weaker or less healthy players can go on. Patrick in season 12 is a prime example.
Kick the Dog: Bob and Jillian will occasionally use variants of this on contestants who spectacularly fail to meet expectations.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: How the trainers see it, as they're trying to break down and excise the habits that lead to such spectacular failures.
Large Ham: The trainers are rarely subtle or quiet. Of course this is done on purpose to get the contestants angry and energized to keep their adrenaline and energy up so they can finish the full workout.
There is one being advertised as of 2011 for the Xbox 360-Kinect combo.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: In a rare Reality Show example, The Commando from the Australian version. Justified by the fact he is actually an ex-SAS drill instructor, so the persona was pre-existing.
Ms. Fanservice: Believe it or not, Allison. You'd expect this of Jillian, but her attire on the show isn't nearly as skimpy as what she wears in the show's peripherals (see Bare Your Midriff above).
Obvious Rule Patch: In Season 4, Neil threw a weigh-in by water-loading, gaining 17 pounds in one week, and then losing 33 the next week, 17 of which was the water. Come Season 5, weight gained in previous weigh-ins no longer counted.
Pet the Dog: While the trainers ride the contestants hard during workouts, they have a good sense of when a contestant is about to hit an emotional wall and crack, and will take time to talk with contestants and work them through these moments.
Precision F-Strike: You can count on at least a handful of these every season, mainly from Jillian.
Sad Clown: It's pretty much a guarantee that male contestants who have boisterous, jokey personalities are hiding major self-esteem issues caused by their weight.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money! / Executive Meddling: As of late the show has been the recipient of some severe backlash thanks to the network's obsession with breaking records (fattest contestant, most weight loss, etc.) without much concern for the health of their contestants. Critics have argued that proper weight loss takes time rather than be a race to the finish line.
They Clean Up Nicely: The producers are pretty good at choosing contestants who are "cute for a fat guy/girl" at the start, and then very attractive or just plain smokin' hot once they achieve a healthy weight.
She's Back: After a two-season absence, Jillian Michaels is returning for Season 14.
Viewers Are Morons: Some viewers don't realize that the speed of weight loss seen on the show is the result of the controlled environment provided by a small army of doctors, personal trainers, and other assorted health experts as they guide the contestants through several hours a day of intense exercise. When these viewers, who are holding down full-time jobs and dealing with everyday life instead of exercising 50 hours a week, manage to lose "only" 3 pounds in a week instead of 13, they wonder what went wrong.
One challenge in Season 12 addressed this by only giving the teams short windows in which to use the gym, simulating the time constraints faced by most people.