Biggest Loser Verges on Exploitation

Experts weigh in on whether reality show has gone too far
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2009 12:57 PM CST
Shay Sorrells was the heaviest "Biggest Loser" contestant at 476 pounds. But she'll lose that title next season.   (NBC)

(Newser) The Biggest Loser is getting bigger each year: Next season, 526-pound Michael Ventrella will be the show’s largest contestant ever. Though wanting to help people shed pounds is a good thing, the show seems exploitative when it uses “heaviest ever” to promote itself. PopEater rounds up media experts’ thoughts.

  • Matthew Greenberg, True/Slant: “Of course NBC and Biggest Loser are exploiting the contestants. All reality programming is, at some level, based on exploitation.”

  • Alex Blagg, Celebuzz: “This is America, so bigger is always better. Why would I want to watch a 500-pound morbidly obese woman run on a treadmill towards her body image goals when I could be watching a 600-pound morbidly obese person do the same thing?”
  • Emma Rosenblum, New York: “On the one hand, it's great that people like Shay and Daniel are getting the kind of weight loss kick-start they need in order to live longer, healthier lives. But it's clear that the show is using them to up the dramatic (and visual) ante.”
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