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State Your Case! The Biggest Loser

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NBC

It’s been a while since I’ve done a State Your Case! post, in which I invite readers to make the argument for shows I didn’t like at first sight, or that I’ve cooled on over time. For the inaugural State Your Case! of 2010, I begin with perhaps the tallest order yet. Or the biggest-boned. Weight-loss-TV fans, please State Your Case! for… The Biggest Loser.

I’m not a reality TV snob. I watch plenty of reality shows without shame, and not just the fancy-pants one like Top Chef that respectable people are allowed to like. Hell, in 2003, I wrote a lengthy essay in TIME defending the entire genre of reality TV. Even Joe Millionaire.

But I cannot get into The Biggest Loser, and never could. It’s not just the recent charges that its weight-loss challenges, amped-up for TV drama, are possibly irresponsible and dangerous (coupled with its quest for ever-more-obese contestants). I just could never become involved with the contestants’ stories because the show is so transparently, manipulatively mawkish. And while I have my own experience with weight loss (in my wedding photo, 40 pounds overweight and wearing a goatee, I basically look like Heavy D), watching other people lose weight is not inspirational to me, just boring.

But plenty of other people disagree: last night’s season premiere was the show’s highest-rated ever. And there are people whose intelligence I respect greatly (and whom I shall leave unnamed here) who tell me it’s their favorite reality show.

So I put it to you: State Your Case! And avoid high-fructose corn syrup! It’s a killer! excessive amounts of any added sweeteners! They may be less than ideal from a dietary standpoint when consumed immoderately!*

*[Update: After publishing this post, I received a call from Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, a trade association representing the "corn wet-milling industry," who took exception to the reference, noting that all "caloric sweeteners" in excess can contribute to weight gain. I am so noting, and will leave it to others to debate the relative merits of HFCS versus other sweet substances. Now, I am going to enjoy a delicious, healthy candy bar, and figure out how I can piss off the sugarbeet-growers next. Or the bees. I hear the bees do not screw around.]

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