What’s Your Take?

My interest in watching NBC’s Biggest Loser dwindled this year. While I still believe in the opportunity given to contestants on the show, I do feel the show has moved further away from the original message used to build its audience. During the season finale last night NBC announced and introduced — tennis star Anna Kournikova — as its replacement for Jillian Michaels next season.

Upon my read of quotes from NBC executives in this EW article, my suspicions are right on. Biggest Loser is moving away from its original purpose, which was to help people who have battled life-long weight management challenges transform lifestyles and to live better. While I have not battled significant weight management challenges, I do identify with some of the daily obstacles contestants face with achieving healthy living goals. Being a work-at-home parent, classroom volunteer and advocate for a local non-profit means inconsistent workout times, sporadic food diary entries, and less discipline with food choices.

The reason I felt a connection with Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels is that they have lived and talked about confronting these very same daily challenges. When they started out on this show they were not the celebrities they are today. I believe that their distance from fame enabled show viewers to take their advice more seriously; and to buy into their workouts at home. I have about five of their DVDs, which I still incorporate into my fitness regimen because the routines achieve results and are easy to follow.

In all fairness to Kournikova, she did appear to be genuine in the praise she offered to contestants from this season. Plus, I suspect she confronts many of the same real-life, healthy living challenges everyone else does. But, that’s not my perception of her. I have always seen Kournikova as a very beautiful, slim, athletic, successful celebrity. I’m willing to bet most viewers share this same opinion. For most women, achieving this media-induced body image is unrealistic and even unhealthy.

NBC says Biggest Loser is evolving to encourage “overall well-being and health” with Kournikova as a celebrity trainer. I am not buying it. This show is no longer about healthy living. NBC is saying very loudly that like all other shows, Biggest Loser is about scoring high viewer ratings, maintaining/attracting advertisers, and entertaining a certain targeted demographic.

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