The Biggest Loser Needs to Shrink its Time Slot

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I’m just going to come out and say it, two hours of The Biggest Loser is too long. I know NBC is having a hard time and that the show up against the American Idol juggernaut on Tuesday nights. But two hours is just too long, and the only reason we sit through The Biggest Loser's sweaty shots and ridiculous “temptation challenges” and over-the-top product placement segments is that we want to see really fat people drop huge amounts of weight. My advice: Cut to the chase and give us The Biggest Loser money shot—the before and after shots of the eliminated contestant—after an hour. An hour seems reasonable.

At least Tuesday's episode—Week 3—gave us a lot of screaming matches. The previews promised a big dramatic bitch fight between Green Team’s scowling Migdalia and the pushy, relentless Jillian. And it delivered, more or less. Jillian screamed, Migdalia scowled, and we, ladies and gentlemen, entered the pop psychology portion of our show. Apparently Week 3 is when we get to the heart of the matter and Jillian switches temporarily from shouting “harder, faster, longer” to shouting things like “only strong people can show vulnerability,” and encouraging contestants to look inside and cry. It makes sense; there is obviously a psychological component to eating yourself into the 300s, but it all feels a bit staged. Obviously Migdalia is going to soften and cry and live to sweat another day.

Although there was that moment when it kind of looked as if she might punch Jillian. That was pretty riveting.

Most of the drama came at the end, after the temptation challenge featuring troughs of M&Ms; (which must have been off-brand because they kept awkwardly calling them “chocolate candies”). And after we found out it was “Teacher/Student” week. And after we sat through nearly 30 minutes of an immunity challenge requiring the contestants to wind and then unwind ribbons from a playground (dream job: inventing immunity challenges for reality TV). Most of the drama came at weigh-in.

First, we learned the group sort of has it in for White-Team-Michael. Apparently he goofs off in the gym and doesn’t work as hard as people think he should. Apparently he’s a bit lazy, just resting on his 526-pound laurels.

The complicated machinations of how it happened are too boring to bother with, but when the Gray Team won immunity and had a chance to get up on the soapbox for a few moments right before weigh-in, they used the opportunity to lecture Michael (who, I am almost certain, shaves his chest). It was sort of game changing. I thought he was the sentimental favorite, but apparently he’s the annoying fat kid who doesn’t take anything seriously.

The other bit of drama (and our second screaming match) happened when Red Team weighed in and Melissa had lost only a single pound, the same amount she gained last week. Her weight didn’t count because she was the teacher and Lance was the student (again, too complicated to bother) so it didn’t endanger her team. But Jillian and Bob accused her of throwing the weight and they were pretty teed-off. She, in turn, accused them of accusing her of being the kind of person who would throw her weight. It was all very screamy and uncomfortable. And confusing.

Can someone please explain the whole “throwing the weight” thing to me? I don’t really get it. But apparently Melissa’s ability to not lose weight at will really just chaps Bob and Jillian’s taut little behinds. I guess it’s strategic to a point, but why would she do it for two weeks in a row? And more importantly, how does she do it? Is she slacking off? Eating donuts? Drinking a gallon of water before weigh-in? I’m baffled, but then again, I am not the tactical mastermind that is Melissa.

The Results:

The Losers: White Team fell below the yellow line, and even though everyone was annoyed with Michael (could it be the headband?), they voted Maria off because she’s the mom and that was her wish.

The Biggest Losers: Despite the throwing of the weight, the Red Team lost the biggest percentage with a twelve-pound drop from Lance.

The Ninja: Pink Team’s Ashley (my new fave) also dropped 12 pounds.

The Money Shot: Not only did Maria lose 50 pounds, she conquered her paralyzing fear of the water by learning to swim. Hearing her husband cheer her on in his comically thick Italian accent was quite possibly the cutest moment yet.

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