17 April 2012

Accidental Experience: Watch Reality TV Without Sound

I don't watch reality TV.   Every now and then, my kids flip on 'Chopped' or 'Cupcake Wars' on the Food Network.  Oh, and there was that one time I watched an episode of 'Hoarders'...it was sometime before Christmas, I believe.

But, usually, no.

However, when the universe has something for you, you try to appreciate it...even if it is packaged up in a wrapping paper you don't really care for.

So, I'm at the local YMCA, logging some minutes on the elliptical to the frenetic tune of Guns 'N Roses's "Paradise City".  On one of the three gym televisions is the program 'The Biggest Loser', a show I'd normally refuse to watch on principle alone.  I know nothing about the show, except that there's a competition to lose weight.  Contestants are weighed every week (I assume), and progress percentages are noted.

Tonight, there were two green-shirted and one pink-shirted "players" (a man and two women).  For some reason, the green-shirted woman appears distressed just before the camera pans to the green-shirted man, who's standing on the scale.  His net loss this week appears to be ten pounds...and it appears that loss is so not what he was hoping for.  The camera shots alternate between his look of complete disbelief, his green-shirt partner's crying, and his trainer's (I assume) look of stoic disappointment.

This is where I realize I'd probably know what the hell was going on if the sound were turned on.  But, it's not, so I'm allowed to make own judgments.  (On a totally unrelated side note, I just realized I used the word 'appears' three times in the last paragraph.)

I'm trying to figure out in what crazy alternate universe ten pounds' loss is such a disappointment.  For someone who wants to lose it and who is doing so in a relatively healthy way, that is.

Then, I really realize the value of sound.  The green-shirted female teammate (I assume), begins to speak (no idea what's being said - I don't read lips) to the guy on the scale.  And, by the way she waves her hands and points her fingers, not to mention the indignant look on her face as she speaks...it's obvious that she is ticked off.

At what?  I have no idea.  My guess is that he berated her as she got on the scale a few minutes ago, and now it's a case of the kettle calling the pot black.  It's only a guess, and not a very informed one.

By now, my twenty minutes on the elliptical are up.  And I'm thankful...because I'm perplexed.  People getting in shape, trying to living healthy, using the buddy system for weight-loss success, personal trainers...

These all seem like good things, yes?  The literature tells us we are living in scary times - obesity rates are on the dramatic rise, after all - and here's a show about people trying very deliberately to buck the obesity trend.   And a program that should be inspiring is instead depressing...losing ten pounds is not praiseworthy, it gets a guy yelled at by his teammate.  It's just not good enough, I guess.

Oh, make no mistake...I am inspired. To never watch the show again, accidental or not.  Sound on or not.


  1. Not sure if you want it or not, but I can illuminate since mom and I watch this show.

    The green team are brother and sister. The reason she was worked up is the person who looses the least amount of weight leaves the show, and it was him this time. She was actually saying that he worked really hard and deserved to stay and potentially win the 1/2 million dollar prize. So your guesses are a tad off there.

    In general, the show IS inspiring and has a lot of good tips and tricks for living a healthy lifestyle, they also raise a lot of money for charity and promote initiatives such as Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign (she was even on the show last week).

    That being said, this is the worst cast I've ever seen. They are whiny and insufferable most of the time and several have quit which isn't really inspiring to anyone. Past seasons, however, have had truly inspiring contestants that overcome amazing odds and make you feel like anything is possible.

    1. Thanks for the corrections. :) Just goes to show how much gets missed when the sound is off!