The Biggest Loser – Season Twelve
Blood, sweat and salty, agonizing tears… animalistic cries, grunts and yelps.
Nope—this isn't the latest episode of The Jersey Shore. It's the hit reality weight-loss show, The Biggest Loser, which is back for it's twelfth season with new trainers on NBC.
After eleven seasons, most people probably know what the premise of The Biggest Loser is: a severely overweight group of people are selected for the show, placed into teams and live/train together in a house while they compete for the biggest amount of weight loss over the span of eleven weeks. Not only are they competing for a team victory, but for a personal victory and a chance to win $250,000.
Season Twelve starts off with a bang when the newest cast is dropped off outside of Death Valley, where host Alison Sweeney greets them and explains all the new and exciting twists of the season. The first surprise is the formation of the teams, who are immediately split into three groups depending on age. The "young team," aka the Red Team, comprises contestants thirty years old and under; those 31-49 make up the Black team; those 50 and over are placed on the Blue Team. It's a true battle of the ages.
Sweeney tells the contestants to "look around" at the desert in which they will complete their first challenge, because it will also be where they return for their final challenge. What's the final challenge? A marathon featuring all of the season's competitors, with the winner automatically becoming a finalist regardless of whether he or she has previously been eliminated.
Also new on this season of The Biggest Loser are two of the three judges. Fitness veteran Bob Harper is still there, but he's now joined by Anna Kournikova (apparently being a hot tennis player who used to date Enrique Iglesias qualifies you as a fitness coach) and Dolvett Quince, the founder of Body Sculptor Inc. and fitness trainer for 10+ years.
Besides the scenes featuring cast members pushing themselves to the point of complete physical and mental breakdowns—long a staple of the show—another particularly poignant moment came when teammate Becky got news that her father had lost his battle with congestive heart failure. This hits the rest of the Blue Team particularly hard, as this is the "old" team and many of them are in similarly dangerous health situations or have also lost their mothers and fathers.
Through tear-filled eyes and with a knowing voice, teammate Johnny says, "When you lose a father or a mother," and trails off. Teammate Bonnie finishes his sentence, "…it's hard to lose a parent. It's hard to lose a parent." This emotional moment illustrates the family-like bond already formed among the cast in just a few short weeks.
One of the best things about The Biggest Loser, and what makes it stand out among other reality competition shows, is that although everybody is competing against each other, they're all still extremely supportive of one another. This is truly exemplified during the show's weigh-in segment when every team member is made to wear super tight and unflattering gym clothing and get on a scale in front of everybody.
What would be a truly mortifying experience for some is turned into a super positive experience because of all the love and support everybody is giving to one another. It's at this moment in the show where you realize that the problems of the contestants, who are battling morbid obesity, diabetes and other weight-related health issues, are much more grounded in reality than Kim Kardashian losing a $75,000 pair of earrings during a vacation in Bora Bora. Perhaps this is why the show has been so wildly successful for over a decade.
Despite the lovey-dovey family bond that had formed between the Blue Team, competition still reared its ugly head, and after weigh-ins they had lost the least amount of weight collectively, which meant they would have to eliminate a teammate. What ensued was an amazingly awkward conversation between teammates Bonnie (who lost four pounds) and Debbie (who lost six pounds), where Debbie says, "I'm not saying that you turn your tears on like water, because I know you can't help it, but I gotta' say that I do find it kind of annoying sometimes." Of course, Bonnie's "waterworks" begin again, and the two go back and forth until teammate Mike shuts them down: "Alright, that's enough. I don't want to hear it… We need to figure out who we're going to vote on and get on with next week."
In the end, Debbie admits that she has a strong support system at home, and if she were to get voted off she'd continue her mission of losing weight. After a 2-2 tie, Mike casts the decision-making vote that sends her home. The episode's final moments feature a "where are they now" segment for Debbie, who has since lost 24 pounds and hopes to weigh 160 pounds by the time the marathon rolls around.
We've seen it for the last eleven seasons, we saw it last week with the newest The Biggest Loser cast and we see it every day in ourselves. The Battle of the Bulge is a universal one, and this is why—even in its twelfth season—The Biggest Loser still captivates its audience.