Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Current Favorite Show on TV

Some great writers have made their names writing compelling TV shows that people plan their lives or TV's around to never miss. My never ending admiration Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night, West Wing, Studio 60) is well chronicled and a part of the reason of my love for politics and rhetoric. There are so many great writers who churn out great scripts, characters, and story lines for years like David Chase (Sopranos), Dick Wolf (Law and Order), David E Kelley (Boston Legal), Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), and many others.

My Aunt Cindy, a brilliant writer in her own right, has taught me to support writers and creative TV shows because great writing should be rewarded with viewership.

This principled stand for me is skewed by one thing. I love Reality TV.

Not all of it, but I can get as hooked on a season of Survivor, Big Brother, or Apprentice as anyone. There is something about watching real people show their real colors and character that is a draw to me.

Late last year I stumbled upon The Biggest Loser and since then, with the aid of the writers strike, it has become my number one 'can't miss' show of the week.

When I first heard of the show three or four years ago I thought the worst of it. Figured that it would take advantage of heavy people and do so in a demeaning way. Turned out I was a loser for thinking so. The show is amazing and deals with some of the many issues facing our country, including health, nutrition and obesity.

The transformations are absolutely amazing and one can't help but root for and love the people on the show. In last evenings penultimate episode of the season I was in awe of the progress the remaining participants had made. In last nights weigh-in, the final four contestants lost 51 lbs combined! On any week this would be an amazing amount of weight lost. Yet, if you factor in the fact that these four already lost 401 lbs up to that point of the game, it is unbelievable.

These kind of results are not typical and totally transferable to a normal life. Becasue most people can't take 15+ weeks off to go on a reality show where their job is to workout and eat healthy. This is a totally controlled environment. Yet this is where the show is truly great, it is designed to equip the contestants to be successful when they are not on the "Biggest Loser Campus." There is a lot of 'product placement' in the show, but unlike seeing a fictional character use a mobile phone, on Biggest Loser you see how these products actually work.

Subway, Quaker, Brita, Ziploc, Pam, Extra, are all companies that have made commitments to get into the health market and my guess is that their 'product placement' has been effective. I can say that I have bought or tried all of these products since watching the show, because of the show.

Unlike most other reality shows where there is a lot of gamesmanship and underhanded crap, the Biggest Loser tends to be more pure. There are times where a player or in this case a team 'throws' a weigh in to try and get a threat removed from the game. Yet for the most part the contestants have their health and goals in mind above all else.

The winner of the show gets $250,000, but unlike the other reality shows with a prize, it seems that by the end of the show the money is a much lower priority because the lives of the contestants are so much better than before. And how the winner is determined is not a plot, a campaign, a speech, a vote, or a 'you're hired' from "The Donald."

The final three or four leave the campus and go home for 4-8 weeks and then come back for the live finale. The winner is the person who has had the biggest percentage of weight loss on the scale. The onus is on the individual and their ability to continue their weight loss after they have left the safety of the game.

I have developed a real emotional attachment to the people in the show. I can't help but root for their success and be amazed by the success that they have made. The two trainers on the show are tough and caring at the same time and have changed the lives of these people with their methods and encouragement.

While I usually reserve this blog for issues and politics, I was so moved by the show last night felt that it was worthy of a 1st rate 17people endorsement.

The finale is next Tuesday at 8edt/7cdt on NBC and I guarantee if you watch it you will wish you watched it the whole season.


Anonymous said...

Not all reality TV is bad. I like the MILF Island show I saw last night. (30 Rock, written by the brilliant Tina Fey.)

Aunt Cindy

Sarah said...

I really wanted to watch this show last night but unless a show involves guns, spaceship vessels or Angelina Jolie type women, I'm usually shot down, so I didn't even bring it up.

Thank you Johnny for bringing this subject into your blog. Working in the fitness industry, especially downtown where you get people from every walk of life, it's scary how little people know about keeping themselves healthy. And in my experience, your economic status, directly correlates with your health awareness. With places like McDonald's, Popeyes etc. marketing to these communities (the price is right) it's no wonder we have the problems we do with obesity etc. I had a woman last week that didn't even know what stretching was, she was probably 50.

I could go on forever with what I've seen in the past few months. But I'm just proud of them for being there, and taking the steps they need to make their lives better. It's the people that don't ever get there that worry me, and there are a lot of them. Shows like the Biggest Looser are wonderful awakenings and motivation for people that need the support. I've had probably a half dozen people come and and tell me they were motivated to join because they watch this show.

Last point, I've come to believe that prevention is such a neglected subject with our health care crisis. The problem is, we are an instant gratification society, we want the quick fix with our weight and health. Take the pill, get the surgery, all will be well. Not true. I'm not against modern medicine but we need to try to route ourselves away from needing it if possible. We will pass our genetics, and our lifestyles onto our children and eventually things like cancer and heart disease will consume us all in some way, directly or indirectly.

As with most things, education, facing the issues and hard work are the only things that will help us.

Sarah said...

There, I just turned your non-political blog, totally political.

17 People said...


As always thanks for reading and posting.

I highly recommend you catching up on this show by going to

There are a lot of videos and other cool features to get a feel for the show.

One of the trainers, Bob, uses Yoga a lot on the show so he's a believer.

Glad you took it in a political direction, because it is a major issue. This show is great because it doesn't focus on just losing weight, but by changing lifestyles and habits to be healthy ane 'prevent' like you talk about.

I actually do not believe in the medical system, ala Bill Maher, and think prescription drugs are the biggest scam in our country.

Prevention and fitness are the best ways to keep our people healthy and lower healthcare costs.

The best parts of this show are when the contestants go back to the doctors after about 10 weeks and their sleep apnea is reduced 50% or are taken off their blood pressure medication.

This show has made a major impact on me and I think you may see it at the wedding!