The Biggest Loser: Black and Blue

First of all, a shout out: Thank you, Biggest Loser, for not spending the first hour of last night’s two-hour show recapping what happened in episode 6. Thank you for trusting us to go off and watch the Olympics for two weeks and still remember that, when we last saw them, Darryl and Cheryl were squatting under their torch stems trying to stave off instant elimination. And thank you, finally, for getting it over with (Darryl crumbled at just under 10 minutes) and moving on quickly to the gross-out temptation challenge.

It went like this: A giant pile of chocolate-chip cookies (store bought, alas), a game of concentration, and a golden ticket. The winner of the challenge would get to assign the new teams—two of them, Black and Blue—and chose one person to receive immunity. The risk was that, in trying to win, the players would have to eat thousands of calories. Only two people signed up: the sappy giant, Michael, and the no-nonsense Andrea (whose dad, Darryl, had just been eliminated).

A wall of cards stood before them, set up like a game of memory. Behind each card was a food item: a fruit pie, a peanut-butter cup, a donut, you get the picture. In a few cases the item was a banana or an apple, but mostly the field contained packaged, high-calorie junk. Behind two of the cards were golden tickets—and these were what each player was going for. Every time they didn’t get a match, they had to eat a cookie, and every time they matched one of the corn-syrup-and-trans-fat-laden items, they got to make the other player eat it. In other words, it was a form of snack-food sadism.

And I’ve got to say, watching people stuff themselves with unappetizing food is really only entertaining for about a minute. After that, it starts to feel like watching a car accident. And poor Michael, before he won by finally matching the golden tickets, he had to choke down more than 2,000 extra calories. For that, he could have had some lasagna and a couple nice glasses of Chianti.

But he did win, and that's when things got interesting. Before he announced the team assignments, Michael gave a super-phony-sounding speech about how he was finally putting himself first. This was hard because, according to Mike, his natural instinct was to always put others first. Even the other contestants were rolling their eyes.

His strategy: Put all the larger, but stronger, people—including himself—on the Blue Team, and then stack the Black Team with older, smaller, female contestants. You know, the ones who don’t show big numbers at weigh-in. He awarded immunity to O’Neal.

So! Blue Team: Lance, Sunshine, Michael, Koli, Daris, and Miggy, with Bob to train. Black Team: Sam, Cheryl, Andrea, Stephanie, Sherrie, and Ashley, with Jillian to train.

Enter the charged, hostile mood of competitive reality series. Enter the whispering groups, the sidelong glances, the tense vibe of the house. Enter—dum dum dum—the alliances. So far it looks like Ashley and Stephanie are pairing up (you go, girls) but I have a feeling the plot will thicken.

When Jillian saw the teams the next day, she went ballistic. Apparently, stacking the decks like this was the most effed-up thing she had ever seen. It also brought back feelings from when she was “the fat loser kid from Jr. High.” I’m thinking it might be time to let that go, what with the multi-million dollar body and the fame and the glowing, tawny skin. But we all have our issues.

The rest of the episode proceeded as if it were called The David and Goliath Show, with the weakling Black Team giving it their all in the face of their terrible odds. Trust me, you have never seen such committed kettlebelling in your life. I couldn’t help but root for them. No one likes a swaggering sure thing.

And in the end, all that grunting and sweating paid off. I’m compressing here, big time, because the weigh-in actually took almost 30 minutes with the 60-second recaps that air after every single commercial (do they think we have amnesia?). But the underdogs came out on top, and Ashley, with a 10-pound loss, was the girl of the night. Her happiness was contagious. Really. She’s my fave. Or maybe O’Neal is my fave. I don’t know, they're both awesome.

So the Blue Team, taken down several pegs, was going to have to vote somebody off. O’Neal would then take that person’s place, evening things up again. The contestant with the highest percentage of weight loss was immune, and Michael, despite his forced junk-food binge, was that person. He lost 15 pounds for a total loss of 109 pounds, breaking all Biggest Loser records, ever.

Lance, with a five-pound drop, lost the lowest percentage... but in the end, it was Miggy, with her bad attitude and her quick rage, who was asked to leave. No one but Michael seemed upset.

Despite my obvious distaste for Miggy, I have to admit that her “where is she now” story was pretty inspiring. Not only had she gone from 240 pounds down to 179 pounds, but she’d learned to meditate. There was a buoyancy and a joy about her that was never apparent during the show. As she said, “The Biggest Loser has changed my energy from negative to positive.” It’s hard to argue with that.

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