When “The Biggest Loser” NBC TV series premiered in October 2004, not even celebrity trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels expected it to become a blockbuster hit. Yet what TV.com labeled a “compelling new weight-loss reality drama” has spawned an entire industry and a nation of Tuesday night “Biggest Loser” junkies tuned in, turned on, and torqued up to see the latest results at the scale. What is it about this show that has America in its grip?
In a country with an annual $40 billion diet industry, a fascination with weight loss does not seem unusual; but even that—combined with reality TV as a national pastime—is not quite enough to explain the overwhelming success of this show.
The deepest appeal of “The Biggest Loser” can only be explained by the age-old theme of transformation. Why do millions watch Ebenezer Scrooge every Christmas and never fail to shed a tear at the predictable ending? How can the most hardened among us watch “Rocky” for the eighteenth time and still cheer as loudly as the first time it was on the big screen? Why are the X-Men adored? Transformation. Everyone delights in it. Everyone longs for it.
“The Biggest Loser” offers 18 weeks to watch the gradual un-cocooning of human butterflies. Shape shifters. Literally. Interwoven with every pound lost, the contestants also change the shapes of their characters, their self-beliefs, and their emotional landscapes. And in watching the unfoldment of each personal and very public pilgrimage, every viewer shares a little of that transformation. That is the magic and the allure, and it is irresistible.
To be alerted to new articles by the Madison Diet & Exercise Examiner, click here to subscribe, and enter your email address. (Your address will not be shared.) I love hearing from readers—email me if you have questions, comments, or a topic you would like to see covered.
Other articles you may find of interest:
The Madison Laughter Club makes yoga a hoot
An exercise in gratitude: giving thanks for this most imperfect miraculous body
Yes, as a matter of fact, liquid calories do make your butt look big: part 1
Yes, as a matter of fact, liquid calories do make your butt look big: part 2
Kick it with your own shape-up boot camp
When accumulated grief keeps you overweight