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Of all the TV reboots and continuations making waves recently, one of the more unique standouts is the tonally revamped update of The Biggest Loser. Having shifted to USA with a new pair of wellness-minded team captains in Erica Lugo and Steve Cook, the Bob Harper-hosted competition series returns to TV nearly four years after its 17-season run ended on NBC. It's not just the trainers that are changing on The Biggest Loser, either.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the fitness self-starter Erica Lugo at this year's Television Critics Association winter press tour, and one of the first things I asked about was how the show would recapture all the fans who regularly watched The Biggest Loser on NBC. Here's how she explained it:
Honestly, I feel like fitness and wellness has changed so much since the last time the show was on the air. I think people are now realizing that fitness and losing weight is not just about how hard you can work out and what you eat. It's about the mental and emotional battles, and changing the way you think and feel about yourself and other people. I think that's what's going to be really captivating this season is we do that every single week. They have group therapy sessions every single week. So we get to the root cause of what's causing these problems. And I think that's really captivating. It's a feel-good story. You know, people love feel-good stories, and that's what this is about.
Having seen the first couple of episodes of The Biggest Loser's new season, I can attest to those group sessions being as emotionally poignant and eye-opening as anything that went down during the show's first 17 seasons. To that end, Erica Lugo's description of Biggest Loser's distinction as a "feel-good show" couldn't be more applicable. It tugs at heartstrings in all kinds of ways.
As popular as The Biggest Loser was during its original run, the series was not without its controversies, largely stemming from the often dramatic weight-drops that sometimes led to dangerous relapses after contestants left the show, among other alleged practices. But that stuff is of a bygone era. USA's Biggest Loser still strives for big results for its contestants, of course, but with a far bigger push on getting at the mental and/or physical sources of the contestants' weight, so that shedding the pounds isn't just about people straining themselves into exhaustion.
When I asked about bringing the show back with a different appeal than what The Biggest Loser did in the past, here's how Erica Lugo answered:
I think for the season that I'm on, I love the fact that I've been through the journey with them. I understand what it's like to lose the weight. I understand what it's like to mentally and emotionally be attached to food and kind of have those roadblocks. Not only that I've lost the weight, but I've gone through cancer, and I'm a single mom. I've literally gone through hell and back. And for me, I think that relates really well to my contestants and they love that. I love to be able to bring that experience to the table. And it is so it's like this being in this just makes sense, right? Yeah. Like it's just, and then you watch the show too and then you can't help it be things.
Erica Lugo made it clear that even though she and fellow trainer/coach Steve Cook are competing against each other as the Red and Blue teams, the end goal for both of them is to help out as many contestants as they can. Again, this is a feel-good show, people.
However, don't expect for Erica Lugo to feel one way or another about following Jillian Michaels as a Biggest Loser trainer. In her words:
I don't feel like I'm filling anyone's shoes. I feel like this is a reboot and I'm kind of like, I got the chance to make my own footprint, you know? So I didn't even think about that to be honest with you.
True to form, Erica Lugo said that with a big smile on her face that inspired the same kind of positivity that The Biggest Loser does with its return to primetime. Franchise fans should definitely tune in to see if they're as captivated as the show's stars hope everyone will be.