That's a whole lotta lovin'...

A massive welcome to Chris Owens as a featured writer who’ll be delivering weekly wrap-ups on The Biggest Loser Australia: Families for MolksTVTalk. Simply brilliant writing, and funny to boot. Enjoy!

It’s been a tough few weeks for Australia and Australians. Floods, heatwaves, bush fires and cyclones have beset the land in an orgy of chaos and “don’t you dare link these one in a hundred year events that are happening every year with climate change” induced carnage. The damage bill will be enormous and the toll on the human spirit incalculable.

But of course, that was nothing compared with the torture and sheer hell that the trainers on the Biggest Loser Families, Michelle, Shannan, Commando and Tiffiny, were forced to go through in the name of saving their respective families lives, and winning all important advertising contracts. Each of the trainers, paragons of virtue and perfect specimens to a man and woman, in order to form a bond with the people they will be torturing for the next few months, were forced to live with and live like their families for two weeks. Not only were the trainers required to share a domicile with them, but they were forced to eat when the families ate, eat what the families ate, be as mobile and active as each of their family members, and generally gripe about the inadequacies of seating on aircraft and at movie cinemas.

On a side note, has anyone noticed the elephants in the room? I don’t mean the contestants. I’m talking about the trainers and how only one of them has a proper name. Only Michelle has a real name spelt correctly. Shannan? Commando? Tiffiny? What is happening to standards these days? Either made up names or common names spelt in some kind of a fancy pants way. On a side side note, Tiffiny used to be Angel in Gladiators. So there you go.

So anyway, the trainers were forced to live with their families and eat and drink what their families ate and drank.  It’s an interesting concept, but I think Channel 10 has missed a trick here by not throwing a family of junkies into the mix. I guess there is no point lamenting lost opportunity. Still, we will forever wonder what it would have been like to see Commando on ice. It would have been a wonderful marketing opportunity for Special K.

Speaking of marketing, it was at this stage that we started to see the clever juxtaposition between the contents of the TV show and the products being advertised. We all witnessed Shannan, Michelle and Tiffiny vomiting copious amounts of junk food into various toilets. By a clever twist of marketing fate, on each of those occasions the relevant segment was followed by an ad for toilet cleaner. One can only hope that we get to see some similar linkage between the show and the advertisers in the coming weeks: healthy eating and health food products; exercise and running shoes; constant whinging and the Liberal Party; the breaking down of psychological barriers turning people into mindless zombies and Scientology.

We also got to know the families over the week and some of the inner turmoil that each suffers as a result of the way that they live. There was much humiliation and heartbreak as the contestants were forced to weigh themselves in front of close family and friends. This seemed to have come as a surprise to many as they expressed shock that they, the stars of a weight loss show, should actually be forced to weigh themselves in front of other people. (One of the contestants, when commenting on the hordes assembled to view her humiliation, stated that she had been avoiding one particular person for two years. Why the producers deemed it necessary to invite her stalker is a mystery to me). By the reactions of some of the contestants, it is apparent they were unaware they were overweight. However, any delusions they had were soon shattered as each contestant heard the gasps, groans and shouts of “behemoth” emanating from the crowd.

On Thursday, the trainers weighed in. They had eaten junk food and not exercised for two weeks. The end result? Each had put on weight. The logical extension of overeating and not exercising escaped the trainers and contestants as each expressed shock and/or surprise.

It was, however, by Thursday that we started to see some of the techniques the trainers will be using. Shannan used that hate method with his family. Such method works by Shannan treating the family cruelly, so that they hate him, he hates them, and we hate ourselves for watching. Notwithstanding this training technique, I do predict he will get it own with the mum, Sharlene. Tiffiny used a similar method, although frankly I don’t the she needed to try.

We also saw the contestants lectured by a doctor with an odd accent, explaining to each of them how much damage their lifestyle was doing to their bodies. To illustrate this point, the doctor compared each of their chronological ages with each of their biological ages, calculated in respect to their weight, height, girth and ability to recall the lyrics to the songs of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (or OMD to you and me). Each of the contestants biological ages were well in advance of their chronological ages. On a more positive note, Shannan’s mental age was well below his chronological age.

There were further dubious experiments undertaken to highlight the damage obesity can do to a person. One such experiment involved Michelle putting on a back pack, with weight added incrementally, to signify how much weight each of the contestants must carry around. She got to 100 kilos extra, before they ran out of Biggest Loser promotional material to put in the backpack.

Towards the tail end of Thursday and continuing into Friday, the contestants took part in their first Biggest Loser challenge. The challenge was to run on a treadmill. Some challenge. Next week they’ll be asked to discover the cure for cancer. At any rate, Jarrod from the Duncan family won the challenge by running faster than anyone else. The prize? Deprive one team of their trainer for a week. They chose to deprive the Moon’s of the Commando. The effect on the Moons was demoralising. To cheer themselves up and lift moral, the Moons decided to head to Pizza Hut. I like saying, “the Moons”.

The final challenge for the week came in the form of a train pulling exercise. Each of the families was strapped to a train and forced to pull it along the rails. The winning family would receive an automatic 4kg advantage at the next weigh in. While the challenge was difficult for the contestants, it was a godsend for City Rail commuters who were finally faced with the prospect of moving trains. Who would win? Who would lose? Who would die? I’m not sure, because I couldn’t be arsed watching to the end. But I did see Greg from the Challenor family feign a heart attack, and Craig, the alpha male (after Sharlene of course) of the Westren family, feign death. Only time will tell if these tactics are successful.

There are a couple of characters beginning to dominate this series already. Sharlene, the matriarch of the Westren clan has already set herself apart as the overbearing, take no prisoners, look at me, type, having a number of run ins with trainer Shannan before walking out on the competition, only to return and promise to Shannan, not to try her best, but to try to try her best.  A big concession.

The other is Greg of the Challenor family. Greg seems to be offside with his brothers and cousins, as they all accuse him of not engaging in the true spirit of the competition by not putting in 153% all of the time, every time, as well as not partaking in the endless cliché fest that is the Biggest Loser. Time will tell whether this attitude will produce the much needed man tears that the show thrives on.

All in all, Biggest Loser Families has got off to a rollicking start. Just one final thing. I’m pretty sure the Moons will end up eclipsing the rest.


The Biggest Loser Australia: Families – Sun 6:30pm; Wed/Thu/Fri 7:30pm, Ch10.
Image sources: Channel 10.