This week, my frustrations with The Biggest Loser almost boiled over — and it wasn’t because of the ham-fisted (or should I say, lean-turkey-fisted) product placements, the massive amounts of filler, or the huge segment devoted to Kim (Kim! A trainer!) leaving the game. Nope, it’s because I was once again reminded of the inherent flaws in the game — namely, that weight loss doesn’t work in a rational fashion, so the main elimination criterion is almost arbitrary.

This week, the competitors will work at a spoiler restaurant.

I’ll concentrate on what happened first, and save my multiple rants for the end. Because, oh, there was plenty to piss me off.

The challenge

The challenge was a bit nuts — the competitors jumped on trampolines to hit speed bags suspended above their heads. After each round, the bags were raised. Jillian had been emphasizing boxing in her training for a while, so her team had a bit of an edge. Nicole and Neil were the first out. Bill, who was having trouble with his ankle, couldn’t take the punishment and was out third. Julie did a great job at first, but in the end, her small stature worked against her — she wasn’t able to put up the numbers in the final round. Hollie took it all, and wins a one-pound weight voucher. That pound will be added to her weight loss at the weigh-in. At this point in the game, that’s huge.

The weigh-in
Bill: down 9 pounds, or 4.05% of his total weight. Holy crap.
Neil: down 10 pounds, or 3.36% of his total weight.
Hollie: down 5 pounds (6 with the bonus from winning the challenge), or  2.99% of her total weight. She falls below the 200-pound mark, and is thrilled.
Isabeau: down 5 pounds, or 2.17% of her total weight.
Julie: down 3 pounds, or 1.75% of her total weight. This is the first time Julie has been below the yellow line, and she’s in shock.
Nicole: down 1 pound, or 0.7% of her total weight. She — and everyone else — looks shell-shocked.

The elimination
Again, Alison talks this up like it’s a big decision, but Nicole is clearly the bigger threat. Neil again, some more, annoys the crap out of me by turning his vote into an opportunity to ramble and rail against the Black Team voting to keep its members. He’s striking a blow against a monolithic enemy! He’s standing up for the underdog, the little guy, the poor-but-honest among us! He knows his vote won’t change things, but he’s still going to bravely vote for Julie, because that’s the kind of honor-bound guy he is! He slings so much horse crap that I’m amazed no one starts looking for the pony.

First, a  question: How does voting to keep Nicole mesh with Neil’s earlier decision to have a "friend" vote Ryan off? Oh, right — it doesn’t. Obviously, Neil thinks he can beat Nicole, but he wasn’t sure he could beat Ryan. It’s a self-serving move. Stop pretending otherwise.

Second, Neil tried to manipulate things so the Black Team would be eliminated. He’s admitted it. This right here is Neil being hoist by his own petard. In other words: Shut up. Again.

Isabeau and Hollie vote for Nicole. Because she had the lowest percentage of weight loss this week, and therefore would be the one to go in a tie, they don’t even bother with Bill’s vote. Nicole is out.

She looks amazing in her look-at-me-now interview, having lost 91 pounds. Good job, Nicole!

The rants
Here’s the thing: Weight loss is weird. It’s not some sort of input-output equation, where if you do x you will automatically achieve y. Sometimes, no matter how much you work out or how well you eat or how much intensity you pour into everything, your body just decides it’s not going to let go of any weight that week. The scale is arbitrary, and what happens week to week is only significant when you look at it over the long run: Is the trend that your weight is dropping? That’s great. So don’t get hung up on one week’s outcome on the scale — look at how your clothing fits, think about how much easier it is to exercise, think about how you feel.

But that’s not the way this game is set up. The scale is the all-important arbiter, and its word is law. So no matter how much you’ve worked, how hard you’ve pushed, it all comes down to a mechanism that is partially based on luck.

And here’s the other thing: The trainers know this. Both Bob and Jillian told their up-for-elimination players the same thing: You’ve been doing great, you didn’t do anything wrong, you just reached a point where your body decided to put the brakes on. There was nothing you can do. It was the luck of the draw.

So how can this show brag about rewarding work and being about transformation when it kicks people out based on luck? Grrr.

That was my main complaint with the episode, but there were plenty of other things to get my ire up. For example, here’s a brief list of unnecessary filler:

  • The Biggest Loser Biggest Transformation moments. I’m not saying it wasn’t nice to see previous competitors and what they achieved, but it was a transparent attempt to eat up time.
  • The long, lingering goodbye to Kim segment. Don’t care. Bye.
  • The "previously" recap that reminded us what happened before the commercial break. Do you really think we have that small and attention sp-ooh, look at the shiny thing!
  • The long, long montages of Nicole’s and Julie’s tenure on  the show. The Nicole one was so elegiac that they telegraphed she would be the one to go.
  • Shots of competitors taking and chewing pieces of product-placed gum, eating product-placed fast food, etc.
  • The pizzeria segment. Yeah, I know, it’s emphasizing that you still need to work out and eat right when you work all day, but they drew it out way too long.

If you can’t fill two hours, don’t schedule two hours.

Finally, both Jillian and Julie brought up the whole "the folks on the Red and Blue Teams rejected and scorned us and left us to rot in the desert" complaint, which drives me around the bend. The Red and Blue Teams didn’t do that — the producers did, to create drama. Jillian has milked that resentment for the entire run, and I’m sick of it. Dear Black Team members: Get over your origin story. Quit talking about it. We get it, you felt hurt, but it doesn’t matter any more. Shut. UP.

What’s your take? Who do you think will be in the final four — and who will win it all?

Posted by:Sarah Jersild