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Last week, the six remaining contestants completed their journey at the White House, sweatin’ it up with First Lady Michelle Obama, who let them (and us) know about her continuing resolution to fight childhood obesity in the United States, and proclaiming her admiration for the show, the trainers and the contestants in the process. Christine got bad news from home and gained two pounds, and she was sent home. Five remain.
In late February, when filming of the current season was close to wrapping up, there was a big stink – perhaps some of you heard about it (I personally didn’t) – that involved the remaining contestants walking off the set and the Ranch, a development that caused production to be halted for nearly a week. This episode recounted the circumstances behind the whole brouhaha.
The opening scene shows various members of the film crew trying to get some shots of the contestants, who are apparently in no mood to be filmed. Their emotional states run the gamut from sadness and disappointment to seething anger as they pack their belongings. Then someone goes into Bob’s dressing room and tells him what’s happening: apparently the idea was that they were going to bring past contestants back and give them a chance to get back in the game. The final five found out about it, and were so outraged they decided to walk off the Ranch.
Bob, naturally, is aghast. He brings up the very salient point that they’ve done something like this in just about every season (though never this late in the season, he neglects to mention). When he and Dolvett confront the contestants poolside, all he gets is tight lips and consternation. They basically collectively state, as far as I can figure, that they deserve to be where they are, and no one else does. Mark eloquently and calmly states that for one of them to give up their chance at the prize to someone who could conceivably have been sent home months ago is just plain wrong. A month or two prior, maybe that would have been acceptable, but this close to the end?
Representing the producers, along with Alison, was Jeff Friedman, the show’s legal counsel, who individually informs the contestants that this “twist” should not have come as such a big surprise, as it was outlined before the season started that it was a possibility. I know that a lot of the “twists” are meant to be a surprise, and as such are probably not spelled out in black and white on the contracts, so I’m not entirely sure which side is in the right here.
I hope you will all forgive me if I pause now for a bit of exposition: I made the decision at the start of this season that it would be the last season of this show that I recap for Cinema Blend. I lay most of the blame for that decision on the show for devoting way too much camera time on the whining diva-ness of Conda and the arrogant in-your-face attitude of Kim, and less on the reason why this show was created… to be an inspiration to America to lose weight and get in shape. All the antics of this season’s cast, especially Kim and Conda, did was to inspire me to stop watching. This can’t have been the goal of the producers. How is it those two are STILL around?
To their credit, Kim and Conda have behaved a lot better in the last few episodes, but not enough to salvage the season. And, after this week’s shenanigans, in my opinion, the show is broken, perhaps for good. In an effort to incorporate as many unexpected twists and dramatic turns as your typical season of Survivor, the powers that be have turned The Biggest Loser into just another reality TV competition show. Losing weight and getting in shape has taken a back seat to all the drama. And that SUCKS.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m well aware that television is a business, and even shows like this need to constantly adapt or they will become stale and stagnant, they will lose viewerrs, and then there will be no more show. When Jillian departed the show at the start of this season, I had a feeling that the powers that be would try to fill the immense void by throwing in some really desperate attempts to grab the audience. And this is what happened.
Can The Biggest Loser recover from this negative publicity? Honestly, I really hope so. As long as obesity continues to be a major problem in this country, this show should have a place on prime-time television. But if the producers don’t get it into their heads that the essence of what makes this show great is the journey the contestants go on, with everything else being simply sound bites, they will continue to push the envelope right over a cliff, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor.
Anyway, when the dust settled, here is what happened:
1) Mark and Buddy both quit. The article from two months ago said they were “fired”, like that’s an appropriate word, but from my point of view, they quit on their own terms. Whether they will be eligible to win the at-home prize or even invited back for the finale is unknown at this point; I hope that when tempers cool for a while, the show at least extends the offer to them. It would show class, even if that offer is denied.
2) Kim, Jeremy and Conda decided to stay. If circumstances were normal, there would have been two more weigh-ins. In the first, one would go home as normal. In the second, the two above the Yellow Line would be in the finale, and the two below it would be subject to a nationwide vote to determine who the third finalist was.
About twenty minutes in, we finally get back to business, when the final three contestants were given their challenge, in keeping for this week’s excuse du jour: “I lack motivation”. And the prize for this challenge was a doozy… a brand new 2013 Ford Escape SUV, which would go to the person with the highest percentage of weight loss. Wow. That’ll turn those frowns upside-down in a hurry. And then comes the bombshell… whoever loses the least percentage of their weight will be automatically eliminated. Snap.
Because the contestants’ departure from the Ranch had to be moved up one week, this episode was also the one where the remaining contestants got to sit down and watch the interviews they made during Week One, along with some of the highlights and lowlights of their journey. It’s meant to be inspirational, of course, but it’s really not enough to combat the pall that this weeks’ developments cast over the season.
Here’s how the weigh-in went:
Kim - lost 15 pounds (-105 total), -9.26%, now stands at 147.
Conda - lost 10 pounds (-89 total), -4.88%, now stands at 195.
Below the Red Line:
Jeremy - lost 10 pounds (-140 total), -4.02%, now stands at 239.
God. Damn. It. Could this season get ANY worse?? Buddy quits, and then Jeremy is eliminated. Which means that Kim and Conda, two of my least favorite contestants of all time, will now compete for the $1 million prize. Which is pretty much guaranteed to be won by Kim, who is so far ahead of Conda percentage-wise that I can’t see it ending any other way.
Kudos. Well, to Kim, obviously, who lost 15 pounds when I though she’d be hard-pressed to lose any weight at all, and for lowering her BMI to 22.4, which is well below the threshold between “normal” and “overweight”. She has done remarkably well, no mistake. As a mother of three, I’m sure a new vehicle will come in very handy. Kudos, equally grudgingly, go to Conda, for dropping below the 200 pound mark.
Standings. So here is how the finale stacks up: Kim has lost 41.67%, as of this episode. If Kim loses no weight at all between this episode and the finale, Conda will have to drop 24 pounds in the same time-frame to win. If Kim is able to keep going, somehow, down into the 130’s or 120’s, then Conda’s chances are even more minute. Anything’s possible, I suppose… but for the first time in this show’s history, I really, truly, do not care anymore.
Oh, and in the final minute, just after Kim and Conda were announced as the finalists, Alison drops one final surprise on the group: all of the ousted contestants (except for Mark and Buddy, who quit this week, and Joe, who quit in Week 3) walk through the door, sporting their original colors. Fade to black. It was odd to Ben, Mike and Chism there, standing alone, but we’ll get to that next week.
Next week: Apparently the big twist IS happening after all. All of the non-quitters will weigh in one more time, and whoever has lost the greatest percentage will become the third finalist. Oh joy. So much for solidarity.