It’s not real, but it’s convincing
Reality TV needs drama. It needs stories told by characters, including heroes and villains. It needs conflict, tears, joy, novelty. It needs to be watchable. That’s why weight-loss-reality-shows shouldn’t exist. A TV show about a sustainable weight loss process would be dull. It would be about someone gradually changing their habits and making hundreds of little decisions every day that contribute to them burning fat and improving their health. No throwing out all your food, no exercising until you cry and no aggressive reprimands from condescending judges who are very disappointed. In short: no drama. But who’s going to watch that?
When I was obese I always thought I’d have to go through some kind of punishing, sweaty movie montage experience that created a less heavy version of me. So I procrastinated, naturally. But these TV shows normalise this kind of thinking. Eventually I lost 22kg, but there was no magic eye-of-the-tiger sweat-fest. I carried on my normal life and even gave up going to the gym in favour of walks and 10-minute workouts in my pyjamas.
This season the show has had an overhaul in response to backlash. It’s plain to see a conscious move away from humiliation and shame for contestants – gone are the tight lycra and topless weigh-ins. But some of the changes are going to teach the audience some absolute nonsense instead of being helpful.