The Biggest Loser 2, Episode 1: Boys Against Girlsby Brian Towers -- 09/14/2005
Returning this fall is one of last season’s breakout hits, The Biggest Loser 2, with a big 90-minute premiere episode. The series focuses on two teams of overweight contestants and their competitive struggles to lose weight and, in the process, regain control of their lives. Challenges and temptations bar their way to a nice prize. We are reminded that “When it’s all over, the Bigger Loser will be the biggest winner.”
The show introduction tells us there were 150,000 applicants for this year’s show. Wow!
We open with some obligatory sad music and some quick clips of some of this year’s contestants and challenges. It’s, frankly, a little disjointed. In my preview article , I summarized much of this information for you, so if you missed it, you might want to go and read it now.
I like the new spiffy intro music as the contestants’ names are revealed.
The show opens for real with the contestants walking through the front gates… barely. It’s a new ranch from last year, not the same one like I said in my preview article. Oops! We get further clips as they struggle to make it up the slope to the main house. In one of them, pretty Ryan says she wants her husband to see her “gorgeous, like I’ve always dreamed of being… and healthy.” Those priorities are backwards!
Series host Carolyn Rhea (who just might be a couple of pounds lighter herself) welcomes the whole group of fourteen into the ranch mansion. It’s a very impressive estate!
Carolyn reminds them they’ve left family behind… and there’s another comforting friend they’ll have to say goodbye to … food. She brings them into a buffet with so much food, I’m ill just looking at it, but they think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Even boring things like hot dogs elicit squeals of delight. Carolyn gives them one last half-hour with the food, and all chow down like it’s their last supper ever. Well, for this kind of food… it kinda is! Everyone feels disgusted after pigging out, both physically ill and full of regret. As they sheepishly file out, all swear this is the last time they’ll be eating like that. We’ll see!
We see the gym next. Impressive, though a little crowded. They then meet the most unforgiving presence in the house… The Biggest Loser Scale. This is one big, huge scale, probably normally built for commercial freight uses.
In typical reality show fashion, Carolyn fakes them out to trickily reveal that the teams will not be formed by picking, but are men versus women. Shy Suzy is shocked. Mark is happy; he thinks men lose weight faster. Ryan thinks the women are in trouble, too, because some of the men are really large. Carolyn tells them that the first weigh-in is tomorrow.
And poof, it’s tomorrow and time for the initial weigh-ins. Here’s where they start:
THE WOMEN (Blue Team, coach Bob):
THE MEN (Red Team, coach Jillian):
The next steps is to measure key body dimensions and body fat percentages – by dunking the contestants in a tank. Most of them find this process discouraging and even humiliating. I know I would.
The total weight of the Blue Team is 1,642 pounds and the Red Team is at 2,383 pounds. I don’t have the numbers from last year handy, but I have to think this group is collectively heavier.
Hostess Carolyn tells them that weekly eliminations will be based on percentage of weight loss, and not gross tonnage. This makes several of the women feel better. When Carolyn mentions the prize of $250,000, they are further encouraged. Even after taxes, that’s a nice piece of change. Someone should have told Richard Hatch that last part. However, Matt sagely notes, “The money is nice, but it’s not going to change your life as much as being here is.”
Next, we meet the trainers – screaming into a megaphone from the top of a bell tower. Only when most of the players are clearly within view does it dawn on them that their entire team is composed of folks from the other gender. Jillian says, “I was in shock!” “Oh wow – help!” says Bob.
We see short clips on trainers Jillian and Bob. Jillian pushes her people to work hard and uses an aggressive, demanding, in-yer-face approach. Bob is more “holistic” and trains “from the inside out.” We know from last season that both methods work well. Both admit they’ve never run a group with seven of the opposite gender before, and expect it will be quite the challenge. I’m guessing those are understatements.
Shannon notes that she and Jen are always last. From the numbers above, you can see these two are about 35-50 pounds heavier than the others. Jillian has the guys giving her piggyback rides up the hill. Jillian is so tiny that she looks like a child on their backs. Seth informs us that highly-driven Matt pukes three times – maybe he needs to slow down, just a little, he’s not in Olympic shape just yet.
In the early evening, we hear more stories from Seth, Dr. Jeff, and Matt. Matt becomes so upset with how he’s lost control of his body, he starts to cry, and Jillian needs to reassure him. “This is where the change starts, guys,” says Jillian.
The kitchen is our next stop. It’s very modern. Bob brings in the Blue Team and they are impressed. Bob stresses the importance of the Food Journal and counting calories.
Jillian tells the Red Team, “At the end of the day, it’s calories in / calories out, guys. Fat is nothing other than stored energy. We need to burn that energy. We do that by decreasing the energy you take in and increasing your energy output.” She tells us that the “Biggest Loser Diet” is really a platform. It has to become part of your lifestyle you can take to the real world.
Jillian tells us the Biggest Loser Diet includes:
Bob adds that the biggest difference in the diet between men and women is the calorie levels. The limits are 1200-1500 calories for the women and 1500-2000 calories for the men. That’s not sexism, women just require fewer calories than men.
Upstairs, they visit their motivational items next. In this room, there’s a display case for each person with their goal item displayed within. Some of them include Suzy’s lingerie, Suzanne’s wedding dress, Pete’s white suit and cop Mark’s woefully inadequate bulletproof vest. Suffice to say, none of these items will be fitting too good just yet.
It’s time for a challenge! Each team will take their turn in a 727 airplane. At 3,400 feet it will nosedive and they’ll experience zero-gravity weightlessness for 30 seconds. With a fear of flying, extreme motion sickness and a fear of heights, Suzanne isn’t too thrilled by that! While weightless, the teams have to collect colored ping-pong balls to win the challenge. When Carolyn starts to say, “The teams with the most balls wins,” the men immediately cheer. Nonplussed, Carolyn explains that the winning team gets to assign an extra five pounds to one of the members of the losing team. Suzanne doesn’t think she can do the stunt and says, “I might as well go home now.”
The ladies are up first. 150 balls are released as the plane dives. Many of the ladies are squealing as they try to get the balls into their collection pouch. I can’t tell the results, but they are sure having fun! Well, except for Suzanne, that is, who just wants it to be over and isn’t overly concerned about collecting a lot of balls. Next, it’s the men’s turn. Balls and red-suited guys are just everywhere, and strategy seems irrelevant. Meanwhile, poor thing, Suzanne is availing herself of the airsickness bag.
Carolyn reveals the results. The ladies collected 81 balls, but the men got 115. The men win! Predictably, the men are elated and the women are discouraged.
Back at the ranch, both teams are shown working out, hard. I’m getting kinda peaked just watching them. In voiceovers, Jillian thinks two people are standing out, and not in a good way. She says Nick needs to work at a higher level, and he’s going to be trouble, while Ruben is sabotaging himself by alienating himself from the team.
It’s time for the weekly weigh-in. The guys all have T-shirts with their aims and goals printed on them – very nice. For example, Pete’s says, “To slam-dunk,” and Matt’s says, “To be an athlete.” It turns out the ladies have them too, but they had sweat-tops on. There’s a new twist this year – the person with the biggest weight loss on the LOSING team wins immunity from elimination.
Matt starts things off… and he’s lost 28 pounds. TWENTY-EIGHT??!? Migawd! This was in one week? Amazing!
At any rate, Matt is asked who will be assigned the extra five pounds… and the decision is, Suzanne. Suzanne gets up next, and she’s lost 16 pounds of her own (netting, a loss of 11). Next, Pete – 22 pounds! Kathryn – 15; Nick – another 28!! Wow!!
Diva Shannon is next, she’s lost 15! Mark – 23; Ryan – 18; Dr. Jeff – 18; Andrea – 11; Ruben – 17; Jen – 19; Seth – 21. With that, the men’s total is 157 pounds, or 6.59% Last to be weighed is Suzy. The human calculator Carolyn tells her that she needs to have achieved a loss of 19 pounds. I guess that’s what she did during that last commercial. Anyway, Suzy weighs in and her loss is 20 pounds – and the women win with a ratio of 6.64%. They win by 0.05%!
I can’t get over those large numbers – no one got anywhere close to 28 last year.
Matt is given immunity because although two of them lost 28 pounds, he had a slightly lower body weight to start, so therefore lost a higher percentage of weight. I think percentage and not the raw number should be the rule for every week – it’s all about the percentages this year, isn’t it? At any rate, Matt hates to lose and isn’t impressed.
Matt is still upset back in the gym, and speaks to the team. He says, “We got set up,” and blames Ruben for not working hard enough. He is not subtle! In the locker room, he shouts at full volume and in from of everyone, that the Red Team played one man short because Ruben’s casual attitude was the reason they lost. Mark is backing him up, and Ruben doesn’t answer. As everyone walks out, Matt says, “Adios brother, the audition is over!” and they leave Ruben in the gym alone. Subtle.
One thing about an all-male team – no one is going to be worrying about “feelings” when it’s perceived that somebody let the team down. Another thing you can be sure of – Matt is the team leader, official or not.
One of the perks of winning the weekly weight-loss challenge is that the Blue Team gets to replace one of the generic Biggest Lose flags with a blue one. The gals insist that Bob should hang the flag.
The men file into the elimination room. They each carry a tray with their votes written out and covered up. Carolyn solicits uncovering the votes. Matt names Ruben, Mark too, and so does Nick. Ruben names Dr. Jeff. Dr. Jeff names Ruben as well, and as that’s a decisive number of votes, we don’t get confirmation of how Pete and Seth voted. Several of the comments indicate they don’t care for Ruben as a person, including Dr. Jeff’s.
Ruben’s stated fear was about being eliminated first, and lo and behold, it came to pass. He wishes he’d gotten more support from the group. Well, judging by the harshness of the comments that were made at his elimination, some of that blame might fall on him.
However, the good news is that now, he weighs a mere 215 pounds – 63 pounds less than the guy we’ve been watching all night. His overall goal is 185, for his 40th birthday in six months. I’m telling you, he looks great already, and I applaud his efforts!
Week One was pretty successful – 266 pounds were lost. Can they top it next week? Previews show plenty of tears, people falling down and staying down, and Nick blowing up at Jillian to the point where she leaves the room. We’ll see!
I’m loving this show!
It’s inspirational, educational, and entertaining.
And another thing… so many other shows, when they come back from commercial they spend the next half-minute recapping what I just saw in the last segment. I hate that insult to my intelligence! This show has so much content that it’s “full speed ahead.” Kudos!
Next week, The Biggest Loser 2 reverts to its normal one-hour time slot, Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT on NBC. Join me here each Wednesday for a recap of all the action, sprinkled with my own reactions and opinions. And let me know what you think, at the email address below!
Brian lives in Toronto where he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email.