There may be no reality television program on the air that can turn 15 minutes of content into a weekly two-hour show quite like The Biggest Loser. These Producers can stretch out a show like the Contestants do a Week 1 pair of spandex. I’ve grown accustom to it, but, almost every week when the final credits roll I think, “Wow… they could have done this entire show in about six minutes.” This is never highlighted quite as brightly as it is the final week before the LIVE finale. Two hours of television for two minutes of information.
Before we dip our toe into this “Christmas Eve” of episodes, let me do this… as always…
[notice]Very Important! This piece will ALWAYS contain Spoilers. If you DVR the show and haven’t watched it, come back when you did.[/notice]
The final structured episode of The Biggest Loser for this the 14th season, was titled “Down To The Wire” and would set the table for the LIVE finale set to air next Tuesday, March 19th. The structure was simple. One more week of diet and exercise on the ranch with the final weigh-in breaking down as follows:
- Top 2 – Safe and guaranteed a spot in the finale.
- Next 2 – Below the yellow line leaving their opportunity to compete in the finals up to America through an online vote.
- Last Place – Below the red line and immediately eliminated.
No voting out. No strategy. It was a straight weight-loss week.
That’s not going to fill 120 minutes, folks!
Instead we were “treated” to the stereotypical penultimate episode. A lot of clips of people watching video of themselves before the show and crying about how far they’ve come and that they’re never going back. Now, I won’t even get into the widely reported statistic that “most” contestants from The Biggest Loser gain the weight back almost immediately, but, I feel like this time could be so much better served teaching. I know some people come to this weekly recap expecting a fluffy “review” of the episode. Unfortunately, as someone who has been on a weight-loss journey that would crush 99% of those featured on the show, I wish they did a better job educating these people on lifestyle as much as weight-loss. The Biggest Loser teaches people how to lose weight… kind of. I say kind of because they don’t show some of the “tricks” that are being used (e.g. dehydration) to make those weight-loss numbers look more impressive. But, what they don’t teach very well is lifestyle. You can’t live your life constantly on a weight-loss geared diet. There’s a point in time where you have to be able to live. The Biggest Loser doesn’t teach that. That is why so many people fall off the wagon.
Back to the episode, the kids were brought in for a final week on the show and went back to, once again, meet with the Dr. Joanna from earlier in the season. All three kids received good news about their health and they’re all showing signs of significant weight-loss. But, again, as the parent of a teen and a tween, I think they miss the mark with the message these kids are supposed to be teaching. All three kids do a lot of blaming. They do a lot of feeling sorry for themselves. And they do a lot of projecting hate on other people. What they didn’t do a lot of prior to being given this national television opportunity is doing something about it.
That being said, there was a clear highlight for the entire season on tonight’s episode involving kids that was so quick that if you blinked you might have missed it. Going into commercial, they told about a 90 second long story about a little girl named Breanna from California. At 9 years old, she was 186 pounds and, according to her parents, Doctors kept saying she’d “grow into her weight.” I won’t wave the BS flag on this because I love how the story ends, but I do find it hard to believe that a Doctor that didn’t get their degree from a box of Cracker Jacks would EVER tell a parent that 186 pounds was an acceptable weight for a 9-year-old. Ignoring that fact, I give Breanna’s Mom the moment of the season because she said “I’ve got to do something about this” and actually did it. She started feeding the kid healthier choices and exercised with her for just one hour per day. A year later, she’d lost 74 pounds and was a typical healthy 10-year-old. THIS is the message that The Biggest Loser should be sending if they want to help tackle childhood obesity. Children left to their own devices are like puppies… they eat what’s in front of them. I have an 11-year-old that would eat nothing but jelly beans and cotton candy…. if the only thing I made available to her were jelly beans and cotton candy. When serve healthy food… kids healthy food. When you live an active life… your kids live and active life. Don’t blame McDonald’s unless your name is McDonald. Do something!
Before the final challenge, the Producers tipped their hand a little bit with a short sequence at the Doctor’s office with REMODELING CLAY pick to win it all since the begging Danni Allen and her trainer Jillian Michels. Dr Huzinga told Danni that she had gained 19 pounds of lean muscle in the 11 weeks that they’ve been on the ranch – a number that he had never seen in the prior 13 seasons. My reaction:
Me: “Well, she’s in the finals.”
Wife: “They just said she gained a ton of muscle. Why would that matter for this week?”
Me: “Because these trainers are Pros and they now know that she can dehydrate like crazy now with all that muscle. Kind of like a fighter before a bout. They’ll go straight cardio all week and just pull all of the water out.”
Fast forward to every workout we saw this week for Danni… cardio.
The final challenge was a classic for The Biggest Loser. The last big competition is always their “put the weight back on” challenge. In it, in some way, the contestants gradually add the weight that they’ve lost to their body or something they’re pushing, pulling of carrying. It’s a great device to show clips from the season of the previous weigh-ins. The winner would receive a one pound advantage on the scale in a the final weigh-in, something that could easily swing the finals. This season, Contestants pulled sleds up a snowy mountain adding the weight as they went. It was close race, but, in the end, perennial challenge bridesmaid Joe Ostaszewski edged Danni for the win and the advantage.
Foreshadowing moment number two came when, during Last Chance Workout, Bob Harper and Contestant Jeff Nichols shared a moment outside of the gym. Jeff, who lost his father at a young age, called Bob a father-figure and thanked him for pushing him. Bob, who clearly appears to have some unfulfilled “good enough for Dad” issues, broke down and pushed Jeff to be tougher and stronger. Despite our shared geography (Jeff is also a Michigan guy), I’ve been tough on him. I think Jeff is soft. I think he quits when things get hard. But, because he still has a lot of weight to lose, he’s a wildcard.
The final weigh in came and there was very little drama. Joe went first and dropped a five pounds. He seemed satisfied, but took some heat from Bob for such a “low” number on the last week. 21-year-old Jackson Carter was next and matched Joe with a five-spot. However, with Joe’s one pound advantage, Joe’s percentage for the week was higher and could not fall below the red line. Weight-loss (percentage) leader Gina McDonald was next and dropped just two pounds. She was very much as peace with her number and already seemed to be ready to go home. Jeff followed and put up an 11-spot locking in his place in the finals. Danni followed and, in what I can only assume was genius weight cutting technique, matched Jeff with 11 pounds. When the dust settled, it shook out like this:
- Finalists: Danni & Jeff
- America Votes Finalist: Joe or Jackson
- Out: Gina
Going into the finals, I’m standing by my pick of Danni to win it all. It’s really hers to lose at this point. But, winning the show is really just a snapshot in time. The real winners from this and any season are the ones who really learned how to change their lives, not how to win a game show.
Next week… we’ll wrap it up after the LIVE finale!