If The Biggest Loser relied on audience voting instead of weekly weigh-ins to eliminate contestants, how different would the show be? Very different, because the deciding element would be heart.
Teams worth rooting for
On last night's episode, there was plenty of heart on display as the dynamics of the ranch changed with the return of Sunshine...and her dad O'Neal on the Yellow Team, and mom/daughter Blue Team Cherita and Victoria.
Their gratitude at being back on the ranch made them especially endearing to viewers already tired of whining Melissa and sulky Migdalia, whose dramatics have overshadowed the first month on the ranch.
Both teams returned noticeably skinnier, and when Cherita and Victoria posted losses of 24 lbs. and 39 lbs. for a total of 63 pounds lost -- 9.92% of their body weight -- they seemed impossible to beat. But when Sunshine and O'Neal stepped onto the scales, their respective weight losses of 25 lbs. and 51 lbs. --for a total percentage of 11.45% -- caused the others to gasp then cheer in support.
Although we'd barely gotten to know them, it was painful to watch Cherita and Victoria's reactions, with Cherita looking stunned and blinking away tears as she clapped for the Yellow Team.
Even as Sunshine hugged her dad with pride and joy, he had the grace and heart to address his remarks to Cherita and her daughter.
"I really wish I could have Victoria take my place," O'Neal said, choking back tears, "because she's a young black kid that needs this ranch as much as I do. In the black community obesity and diabetes are running rampant, and now I have more than the black community -- I have the obese community that I would like to help when I help myself."
Cherita returned the love by saying how O'Neal had shown America that it can be done at home, and that she and Victoria were proud of them and will continue their own journey at home.
At this point, if audience voting determined who'd stay and who'd go, it's clear that America would have dumped Melissa and Lance to keep the Blue Team sweethearts in the game.
Other highlights this week:
- Miggy finally let her guard down, sobbing herself to sleep the first night Midgalia was voted off. Hours later, she was rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy and other medical concerns. When she finally returned to the ranch, she was restricted from doing any exercise in the gym; yet right after her surgery she walked 13 miles to avoid losing ground before the weigh-in. Without Midgalia weighing her down, Miggy seemed downright chipper byt the end of the week.
- Michael, the laziest contestant on the ranch, unexpectedly won immunity in this week's challenge, beating out the ever-energetic Sam and Koli of the Gray Team and Lance "I'm Carrying More Than My Share of the Weight" of the Red Team.
- While Lance busted his butt during the challenge, his worse half Melissa perfected the art of whining, weeping, and screaming during her workouts this week, putting forth just enough effort for Bob to say she'd earned his respect.
- Jillian practiced her patented head games on Daris and Ashley, who seemed to be holding back on their workouts. Ashley revealed she was an emotional wreck from watching her father die, and Daris confessed that he'd been overweight all his life and had come to accept that he was the fat funny guy who would always go home alone.
When it was time for the weigh-in, much to the unspoken delight of everyone, Melissa and Lance fell below the yellow line and looked like they'd be on the chopping block.
But in the final moment, John -- whom Bob truly believed would "blow up the scale this week" -- failed to lose enough to keep himself safe, and was sent home to join his twin brother James who left after Week 1. A big bear of a guy who had more heart than most of the other contestants in this ho-hum Season 9, John's elimination had everyone in the gym wiping away tears.
When bad things happen to good contestants, it's the audience that suffers as we're stuck with teams we're not emotionally invested in. Let's hope viewer favorites Sam and Koli continue to stay above the yellow line.