Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, BLOOP. Reaction shot. Cut to commercial.
If you watch The Biggest Loser, you’re used to the built in suspense at every weigh in. The order is strategically determined to create a dramatic arc and at key moments the commercial break adds to the suspense (and keeps eyeballs on the commercials). If you watch carefully, you’ve probably noticed that often the reaction shots used before the commercial break aren’t shown after the commercial. It’s all designed to string you along for the emotional ride.
But Tuesday night’s show went too far.
The twist this week was that the contestants weren't weighing against each other, but with each other. If together they lost more than 77 pounds, no one would go home. The loss averages to a total of 1 pound per person per day. So if someone lost 3 pounds during the week, someone else would need to lose 10 to make up the difference.
Mike, the youngest contestant ever on the show, was left as the last person to weigh in. All the contestants were on the hook, but the big moment came down to whether or not “Mikey” lost 10 pounds or more in order to keep everyone safe from elimination. That’s a pretty hefty order for an 18 year old.
Mike’s father has knee problems and has been unable to train at the same level of intensity as the other contestants, leaving Mike to shoulder the responsibility of losing enough weight each week to keep them both on the show. That’s a lot of pressure for an 18 year old.
Add to the fact that this week Mike was a challenge winner. He won a prize of free groceries for a year, which he selflessly gave to a member on the opposite team, a mother of 5 kids who once used donated groceries to feed her children. That’s a lot of heart for an 18 year old.
What does the show do? It does what reality shows are designed to do: plays up the drama. They make the poor kid go last and then… AND THEN… after the final “BLOOP” of the episode, the screen goes black. “To be continued…” is all we are left with.
As a viewer, I am shaking my fists at the big programming executive in the sky (or Los Angeles). But the ploy works. I’m definitely tuning in next week and rooting for Mike.
C’mon, kid, you can do it! (But if you don’t, it’s not your fault.)