In 2006, The Biggest Loser was in its third season. This hit reality show focused on a group of 14 people sent off to live in a complex together, with the goal of losing weight via the fastest possible methods that weren't amputation or amphetamines. However, behind the hasty weight loss, trumped-up drama, and dramatic music, there lurked a dark side. Cracked talked to The Biggest Loser Season 3 runner-up Kai Hibbard, who told us ...
#5. They Hid Real Relationships if the Fat People Were Deemed "Too Fat"
Have you ever seen a reality show like The Real World or Big Brother? They all have romantic relationships carefully crafted to draw the audience in. And besides being possibly faked, can you guess what else those relationships all have in common? Skinny people. TV just can't seem to bring itself to show fat people falling in love unless it's the two comic relief characters having their arcs wrapped up in such a way that we don't have to see them bone.
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Over in sitcom-land they'll do fat guy/hot wife, but don't you dare think about reversing those roles.
The Biggest Loser had romantic subplots that would build throughout the season, too, but the producers and editors made sure to Jim & Pam that shit as slowly as possible. Those "relationships" weren't allowed to bloom until both partners were skinny enough that their kisses were safe for a presumably very shallow audience that knows love only as something bedazzled on the butts of pretty girls' pink sweatpants.
"Sorry, 'Attraction Can Be Based on Non-Physical Qualities' just isn't cost effective from a glue and rhinestone standpoint."
And no, that wasn't because those couples were only down to clown once they were both skinny. Obese people like genitals and emotions as much as anybody else. It was just the cameramen's sacred duty to make sure as little of that got caught on film as possible. They'd straight up refuse to follow actual couples to catch a glimmer of real romance because, and this was their actual reasoning, "Who wants to see two obese people making out?" If we can stomach watching the oompa-loompas from Jersey Shore drunkenly chewing on each other's faces, we could probably manage a couple of hefty folk gettin' tastefully busy in the bushes.
#4. The Results Were Skewed and Took Way More Exercise Than They Showed
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Every week on the show, you watched us exercising and working out. That's part of the process, of course -- making people healthier. But they don't show the additional mandatory six hours or so of us furiously flailing the pounds away. They much preferred filming us right at the end of a workout, when we looked like lazy quitters for stopping so early. Even the giant scale they had us all weigh in on was fake.
And sometimes the "healthy habits" you saw on the show were no such thing: My season made a big deal of showing us all drinking our milk to prove how nutritious it was. But as soon as "cut" was yelled, the trainers made us spit it out. Calories do not trump calcium, apparently. They claim the weigh-ins you see are weekly, but that's a straight-up lie. When people exclaimed "I lost 12 pounds in a week!" that wasn't always the case. It's all based on filming schedules. Sometimes the real period between weigh-ins was over three weeks, and you got liked like a rock star for losing so much weight so quickly. Other times it was only five days, and the audience thought you were phoning it in that week -- after which you probably hung up and dialed for a pizza, you lazy cheese-beast.
Losing five pounds in five days was actually pretty dangerous on its own, but the audience didn't care. The show trained them to expect more results than were reasonable, safe, or sometimes even possible, and failure to deliver in the fat arena got you a thumbs-down.
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"This pleases us ... for now."
#3. The Show Has Absolute Power Over You
During Season 3, the gimmick was having contestants from all 50 states. To get to the core cast of 14, they flew us to LA, put us in church vans, and drove us off to somewhere in California. The entire time, we were not allowed to talk to the other contestants. Then we were essentially locked in our hotel rooms, being let out only to do shoots or doctor visits. They confiscated all of our stuff -- no TVs, books, magazines, nothing. We weren't even allowed to call our families. My parents didn't know where I was until three weeks later.
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"We were a day away from sending Liam Neeson to come find you."
They make the fat women walk out in sports bras and spandex shorts. That's only for the ladies, of course -- guys don't have to stroll out in nothing but the classic jock-'n'-socks combo; they get normal exercise clothes. On the "plus" side, once you dumped a bunch of weight, you got to wear a tank top again. Once we're skinny, we've "earned" the right to wear a tank top and dress like a human being who might like to have sex someday.
The obese are already seen as something less than normal humans, so the show-runners thought it would be perfectly acceptable to put us in horse stalls and make us run on a horse track, because hey, maybe that small percentage of personal trainers that believe yelling in your face while you're on a treadmill are right and shame does burn calories. To protest, I simply walked the course, refusing to run until they asked me to at the end, hopefully ruining the competitive spirit of the challenge (and, of course, they called it like a horse race all the while). I felt like maybe I'd be able to preserve a little dignity by not running. But in retaliation, they acted like I was just too fat and exhausted to finish. Later, fans on the Internet threatened me because HOW DARE I NOT RUN FOR THEIR AMUSEMENT? CAESAR OF THE FATTIES IS DISPLEASED.
I have a great suggestion for what to do with those thumbs.
That happened to other contestants, too. If you didn't act grateful enough, or you had the audacity to demand to be treated like a human being, they made you look like a huge jerk on TV. That is the mighty power of the television editor: With enough time and a copy of Adobe Premiere, you can make Mr. Rogers look like a blood-drinking psychopath. One woman in my season was one of the kindest individuals I have ever met in my life. Five years after the season ended, she even donated a kidney to save a complete stranger's life. That's the kind of nice we're talking about here -- the full Ned Flanders treatment.
But she injured her leg during filming and couldn't run much, so she refused. The people on the show told her, "We don't care -- run," and she said no. Because she didn't comply, they edited the footage to make her look like the biggest bitch in the world. Without the whole "threat of injury" thing, she seemed like a big ol' entitled wussbasket. And guess what? She got death threats. She got so many death threats that NBC had to disable the messaging function on her part of the show's site. All because she had been injured the previous week and physically could not do what they were asking.
"You misunderstand; those were death threats of encouragement."