Welcome back to another season of The Biggest Loser! Seems like we just did this, doesn’t it? That’s because we did just do this. The last season ended two weeks ago. We’ve hardly had time to enjoy binging on pumpkin pie and NBC is hitting us with a special New Year’s Resolution premiere of the show. Low blow, NBC. Way to take the wind out of my sails….or the ice cream off my pie.
This season will be a bit different. Instead of 18 contestants I have to keep straight, there are 20. Luckily, it’s looks like we’re down one trainer (buh-bye Barbie Kim), so that’s more face time for Bob. Seriously though, this season, the players will be paired up into teams. Every team, except one, will have a prior relationship: brothers, spouses, friends, parents, children. Basically, everyone brought the other half of their codependent relationship with them to the party.
The Calm Before the Storm
We meet our players one day before they arrive at the Biggest Loser Campus. The first team is mother Bette-Sue and her daughter, Ali. They were both nationally ranked swimmers – Bette-Sue as a speed swimmer and Ali as a synchronized swimmer – and they now work as hairdressers. This would explain the architectural nature of Bette-Sue’s ‘do. Hey, you know what? It’s really going to suck having a contestant with the same name as the host. Makes me hope Ali and her mother are eliminated early.
Mallory and Curtis are married with three daughters. Curtis says the biggest letdown for him was working hard to give his children good medical insurance and then not getting approved for that insurance himself. In order to be covered by insurance, he has to weigh no more than 230 pounds. He’s 150 pounds from that goal right now.
Jenn and Maggie are best friends and, ironically, counselors at a fat camp. They both see how weird that is and tell us that the camp doesn’t generally hire overweight staffers. It’s also hard for the campers to take them seriously about getting fit if they themselves are overweight.
Newlyweds Neil and Amanda want to get in shape before their son realizes that they’re fat. While they really don’t want to, Neil and Amanda have decided losing weight is important enough that they can leave their son at home. I’m assuming someone will be caring for him and we don’t have a CPS situation there.
Paul and Kelly are divorced, but it seems like Paul hasn’t let go. He says they might not be right for each other, but he still sees himself back together with Kelly and a child. Paul tells us that he lost both his father and his grandfather early and is scared that he only has a few years left if he doesn’t get healthy. There was a pretty horrifying shot of Paul in a Speedo in there. I’ll be writing a letter of protest to NBC right after I finish this recap. Standards and Practices is falling asleep on the job here.
Father and daughter Lynn and Jenni are here for different reasons. Lynn wants to make his daughter proud and Kelly just wants to bond with her father over this experience.
Jackie feels guilty over the fact that her son, Dan, is fat. After all, she drove him to all those fast food places. Now that he’s an adult, Dan wants to take control of his life and get healthy.
Brothers Mark and Jay have met success with their careers and families, but not at losing weight and being healthy. They both feel it’s time to set a good example for their children.
Roger and Trent played football together at the University of Alabama. From the look of things, that was a few years ago. They’re still competitive though, and vow to win the show.
Welcome to Your Nightmare
It’s the big day and host Alison Sweeney, is there to greet our new players and welcome them to the Biggest Loser campus. Nine teams of two line up in front of Ali and she introduces the final team. This team will be a little different: unlike the rest of them, these two have never met. Out come Brittany, a 22-year old hairstylist, and Bernie, a 27-year old teacher. Brittany and Bernie are members of the Biggest Loser Online Club who were paired up to participate on the show. Brit is sure that their lack of baggage might give them an advantage.
Before anyone has a chance to get their bearings, it’s time for the first challenge. Lynn whines. He wasn’t ready for a challenge and wanted to get in shape before he did any challenges. The statement is so ridiculous that I don’t even have a comment.
What’s the prize for this challenge? They’re playing for Bob and Jillian. Cue my first swoon of the season. Here comes Bob! *jumps up and down* Oh, and Mistress Jillian is there too. She looks appropriately menacing and smug. The challenge will be a foot race. The players will have to run, walk or crawl to the top of a nearby hill and back. We get a shot of the aforementioned hill in the distance with a tiny tree at the top. When the teams make it to the finish line, they must line up behind the trainer they want. Each trainer will have only 5 teams.
The race begins and so does the wheezing and panting. Bette-Sue is walking before they even hit the first little hill. She whines about how she and Ali want Jillian to be their trainer and now, because this is a physical challenge, they won’t get Jillian. Bette-Sue thinks Jillian will just be tougher on them than Bob will. I instantly don’t trust Bette-Sue because she doesn’t want Bob. The teams make it slowly up the hill, whining all the way. They all seem surprised at just how out of shape they really are.
Most of the players get up the hill and back without too much trauma or drama….all except for Bette-Sue, who has taken the whole drama queen thing to a new level. In no time flat, Bette-Sue resorts to crawling up the hill. Her daughter, Ali, actually pushes on her mom’s caboose with both hands in an effort to get her up the hill a little faster. Eventually, Bette-Sue does get to the top of the hill. She then chooses to get down the hill by sliding down on her rear. Those pants are really taking a beating today.
In the end, the teams fall out this way:
Mark and Jay
Roger and Trent
Curtis and Mallory
Maggie and Jen
Kelly and Paul
Brittany and Bernie
Jackie and Dan
Neil and Amanda
Lynn and Jenni
Bette-Sue and Ali
Ali is po’ed about not getting Jill as trainer, while Bette-Sue is embarrassed by her performance in the challenge. Bob goes into Super Smurf mode, asking Bette-Sue why she’s embarrassed. She admits she felt like she let her daughter down.
It’s Just Like Big Rainbow
Bob tells the teams this season will be all about colors and each pair will have its own color. Let me get this straight. Not only do I have to remember everyone’s name and who goes with whom, I also have to remember which friggin’ color they are? Great. The players pass out the various team t-shirts and everyone gets suited up.
Here’s how the colors are assigned:
Brit and Bernie: Blue. Bob tells them that many special people in his life have worn that color. Mark and Jay: Black
Neil and Amanda: White
Lynn and Jenni: Green
Trent and Roger: Grey
Kelly and Paul: Yellow
Curt and Mallory: Brown
Jackie and Dan: Orange
Bette-Sue and Ali: Pink
Maggie and Jen: Purple
No sooner is everyone into their new duds than it’s time for some humiliation on a large scale…..by making them get on a large scale. Ali tells the players they’ve never seen a scale like this one. Have you ever noticed that the scale gets a better entrance than any person on this show? This time, the scale is a little different: instead of one scale, it’s two scales placed side-by-side with individual read-outs and a larger read-out between them. The teams will be weighing in together and their combined weight loss will determine whether or not they are up for elimination each week. This might take a while, so let’s just do it.
Maggie: 239 lbs
Jen: 254 lbs
Total: 493 lbs
Mark: 285 lbs
Jay: 293 lbs
Total: 578 lbs
Curtis: 381 lbs
Mallory: 217 lbs
Total: 598 lbs
Bette-Sue: 261 lbs
Ali: 234 lbs
Total: 495 lbs
Jackie: 246 lbs
Dan: 310 lbs
Total: 556 lbs
Lynn: 409 lbs
Jenni: 267 lbs
Total: 676 lbs
Neil: 317 lbs
Amanda: 204 lbs
Total: 521 lbs
Bernie: 283 lbs
Brittany: 221 lbs
Total: 504 lbs
Paul: 303 lbs
Kelly: 271 lbs
Total: 574 lbs
Roger: 363 lbs
Trent: 436 lbs
Total: 799 lbs
Trent’s weight is equal to the biggest player in the history of the game. If memory serves, the other player was Mo from season one.
Everyone looks pretty dejected over the too-high numbers on the scale. It probably doesn’t help that you could see those numbers from space. Alison assures them that it does get better from here. The trainers are there to help them and they will all see lower numbers at the next weigh-in.
Et Tu, Brita?
With that bit of humiliation out of the way, it’s time for a little more humiliation. Jillian immediately informs us that she doesn’t like the idea of pairs. She claims it gets in the way of her process of
complete physical domination and mind controltraining to have people there with their enablers. Still, just a few minutes into the first workout, Jillian is all about Amanda and her work ethic. Unfortunately for Amanda, Jill is not all about Neil, Amanda’s husband and teammate. Amanda admits that Neil has a tendency to quit before he finishes things.
When we catch up with Bob and his trainees, Jillian muses over the fact that “underdogs” pick Bob as a trainer, thinking he’ll be easier. She says he’s a monster. If we needed proof, there’s footage of Bob’s first training session with his people. He’s devised a circuit training “course” for them that causes Paul to nearly pass out. By the end of the workout, Bette-Sue doesn’t think Bob is a creampuff anymore.
One of the parts of this show that I enjoy ridiculing the most of the very un-subtle product placement segments disguised as nutritional discussions. Jillian goes first this week by pimping – of all things – water. For a second, it’s not clear that there’s an actual product here until she talks about how The Biggest Loser is teaming up with Brita this season. Uh-huh. Great.
Every season the players begin their “journey” with a trip to Dr. Huizenga, who runs tests on them and then tells them exactly how unhealthy they really are. This time, they’ll get some of the results on camera. Everyone gathers to meet the doctor in a morgue. Yeah, that’s real subtle, doc. The results are not good. Three-quarters of them have high blood pressure, half of them have obstructed sleep apnea and a number of them have fatty livers, which is not very common. They’re meeting in a morgue because he wanted them to see where they’d end up if they don’t make some changes in their lives. Dr. H says they’re all statistically on track to end up there a lot faster than most people their age.
This seems to be the season of gross visual aides and this one is really gross. As a way of showing how fat can affect the heart, the doctor drops a plastic model heart into a vat of liquefied fat. Someone remarks that it looks more like vanilla pudding. I immediately swear off vanilla pudding. Forever. Dr. H talks about the varied risks of obesity, including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, diabetes and fertility problems. Kelly admits that she’s had three miscarriages. After each miscarriage, her doctor told her to lose weight. Bette-Sue, apparently knee deep in denial, thinks the doctor is exaggerating. Dr. H assures her that he is NOT exaggerating.
When Lynn meets with Dr. Huizenga to discuss the results of his heart scan, he learns that he has calcified plaque in all four major coronary arteries. Kelly cries over the news, but the doctor tells Lynn there are many things he can do to reverse the problem.
It’s time for another bizarre challenge. Yay! The teams meet Ali in an open field where ten giant balloons fly high above them. There is one balloon in each team color. The challenge will involve dragging the balloon, which will be floating above them, down to the end of a course and back. The winners will get to subtract two pounds from their weight loss numbers this week. There’s an added aspect to the challenge: this time, the last place team will have 2 pounds added to their weight loss numbers at the weigh-in. Bette-Sue bitches out loud. Alison looks alarmed.
The race begins and the players begin to pull their balloons hang glider-style with a bar in front of them. There’s a lot of resistance from both the balloons and from the wind. A totally bewildered Maggie and Jenn find themselves in last place behind even Lynn and Jenni. They’re in their early twenties and Lynn is …well, they don’t even know how old he is. In the end, Mark and Jay win the race and Maggie and Jenn come in last. Everyone cheers them on as they cross the finish line, but Maggie is mortified: she thinks the cheering is just condescending. As he and Brittany approach the finish line, Bernie begins puking his guts out. Boy, I’ll bet she’s excited about getting paired with him now. To Bernie’s credit, he keeps running….and turns his head away from Brit as he hurls.
It’s almost 11 p.m. the night before the weigh-in and everyone is working out….all except for Lynn, who has blisters on both heels and just doesn’t want to work out. Jenni goes to the gym without him but tells her father she’s really disappointed in him: he promised he would work out with her that night. Now he says his feet hurt. Jenni storms off back to the gym while her father goes to bed.
The next morning, Lynn hits the gym at 6. He admits it would be harder to be there without Jenni, so he wants to work harder. Also the next morning, we learn that Bernie spent the night in the hospital. Was I not paying attention? When did that happen? Apparently, the puking at the challenge was just the beginning: Bernie hasn’t been able to keep any food down. The doctors ran some tests and told Bernie to take it easy, but he’s worried about what kind of teammate he’s being for Brittany. At the last chance workout, Bob tells Bernie to take things easy with a light workout and lots of water.
Bernie is pretty much the only one who isn’t being abused at the last chance workout. Jillian screams “Last chance!” at her people with alarming regularity. Bob admits the first last chance workout is his favorite because it’s so much harder than they could imagine and so much harder than any of the previous workouts he’s put them through.
It’s time for the weigh-in and, honestly, I still can’t remember most of these names. Everyone files into the gym wearing the Garb of Humiliation: cycling shorts and sports bras for the gals and shorts and shirts (which will soon be removed….just the shirts, thank God) for the guys. I no longer comment on Alison’s clothing. There’s no fault to be found, so why waste the energy? This season, the dreaded Yellow Line is making its appearance in the first episode. The two teams with the lowest percentage of weight loss will fall below the Yellow Line and will be up for elimination.
Alison welcomes everyone and then turns to Paul and Kelly. She asks if they ever worked this hard when they were married. He says, back then, one of them gave up. There are audible gasps and Kelly begins to cry. She admits that she left the marriage, but reminds Paul they agreed not to say anything to hurt each other. He apologizes and clearly knows he stepped in it. Big time.
Not only is the scale different this season, so is the elimination. They won’t be getting a whole night to think about how they will vote: the elimination ceremony will take place one hour after the weigh-in.
Yellow: Paul and Kelly
Paul: was 303 lbs / now 286 lbs (-17)
Kelly: was 271 lbs / now 258 lbs (-13)
Total: 30 lbs lost / 5.23% of body weight
Black: Mark and Jay
Jay: was 293 lbs / now 280 lbs (-13)
Mark: was 285 lbs / now 268 lbs (-17)
Total: 30 lbs + 2 lbs from challenge / 5.54% of body weight
Brown: Curtis and Mallory
Mallory: was 217 lbs / now 203 lbs (-14)
Curtis: was 381 lbs / now 359 lbs (-22)
Total: 36 lbs / 6.02% of body weight
Gray: Trent and Roger
Trent: was 436 lbs / now 407 lbs (-29)
Roger: was 363 lbs / now 343 lbs (-20)
Total: 49 lbs / 6.13% of body weight
Orange: Jackie and Dan
Jackie: was 246 lbs / now 231 lbs (-15)
Dan: was 310 lbs / now 285 lbs (-25)
Total: 40 lbs / 7.19% of body weight
Green: Lynn and Jenni
Jenni: was 267 lbs / now 260 lbs (-7)
Lynn: was 409 lbs / now 390 lbs (-19)
Total: 26 lbs / 3.85% of body weight
White: Neill and Amanda
Amanda: was 204 lbs / now 190 lbs (-14)
Neil: was 317 lbs / now 304 lbs (-13)
Total: 27 lbs / 5.18% of body weight
Purple: Maggie and Jen
Maggie: was 239 lbs / now 229 lbs (-10)
Jenn: was 254 lbs / is 242 lbs (-12)
Total: 22 lbs -2 from challenge / 4.06% of body weight
Pink: Bette Sue and Ali
Bette-Sue: was 261 lbs / now 245 lbs (-16)
Ali: was 234 lbs / now 215 lbs (-19)
Total: 35 lbs / 7.07% of body weight
Blue: Brittany and Bernie
Brittany: was 221 lbs / now 211 lbs (-10)
Bernie: was 283 lbs / now 266 lbs (-17)
Total: 27 lbs / 5.36% of body weight
That puts the Purple and Green teams below the yellow Line. Alison tells Bob and Jillian to say goodnight to their teams: they won’t find out the results of the elimination ceremony until tomorrow. The top eight teams will be deciding which team will be going home. They have an hour to mull over their decision. The teams all meet and both “at risk” teams make their pleas to stay….well, actually, three of the four players lobby to stay. Lynn just tells everyone they should make their decision and that it doesn’t matter to him one way or the other. Jenni looks on, mortified, as Lynn tells them all that he and Jenni will still be together and will still work out together, even if they are eliminated. When they return to their room, Jenni can sense Lynn’s happiness as he packs. She’s sure that, if they get eliminated, he’ll go right back to his old ways and he’ll die.
If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your, er…..Father
There aren’t any surprises at the elimination ceremony. Only the Yellow Team votes for Maggie and Jen. The other teams, except for the Gray and Black Teams, who don’t need to reveal their votes, choose to send Lynn and Jenni home. Jenni cries and Ali says she knows how much Jenni wants to be there. Jenni says she hopes she’s learned enough this week to continue getting healthy at home. She claims to be proud of her father, who vows to go home and do it on his own.
Lynn and Jenni’s journey video is maybe 3 seconds long. Lynn says it’s hard to go home because he knows Jenni wanted to stay. He vows to be there for her and asks her to do the same for him. She hopes her father will stick to trying to lose weight, because he has no choice if he wants to live. She also hopes he won’t regret wanting to home. He says he won’t. In follow-up, we learn that Lynn has been minding his diet, but hasn’t been doing so well in the gym. Still, he’s lost an additional 30 pounds (for a total of 49 pounds) since leaving the ranch. Jennie has lost 20 pounds (for a total of 27 pounds) since leaving the ranch. I hope we’ll see both of them looking much smaller at the season finale.
Next Week: Neil’s
incessant whininglack of commitment is threatening the future of their team. Plus, Bob and Jillian decide to team up.