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Has 'The Biggest Loser' Gone Too Far? (VIDEO)

by Oliver Miller, posted Sep 22nd 2010 7:02AM
Has 'The Biggest Loser' Gone Too Far?And we're back for the tenth season of 'The Biggest Loser' (Tues., 8PM ET on NBC). In general, Americans are getting more and more obese, and so it could be argued that this reality series serves an actual valuable function -- by reminding us of the importance of weight loss and exercise. Or, it could be argued that the show is just voyeuristic exploitation, pure and simple.

[Warning: Spoiler alert.]

The premiere episode of the new season seemed to err on the side of "exploitation." At the very least, it contained a somewhat disturbing moment. For the new contestants to make it onto the show, they had to complete one of two challenges -- they had to either run a mile, or do 500 "step-ups."

The step-up challenge simply consisted of the players hopping onto a small exercise block -- which doesn't sound so bad. But five hundred times in a row is a lot of times to do anything, and if you're out of shape, then this could lead to major problems.

Which is pretty much what took place. The reality show traveled to locations in Michigan, California, Oregon, Georgia, Arizona and Oklahoma -- all without incident. But the final location on the tour was Boston, Mass. And that's where the trouble occurred.

Elizabeth Ruiz, a 31-year-old contestant, took part in the step-up challenge. Ms. Ruiz weighs 244 pounds, and has recently gotten out of an abusive relationship. She was looking for a way to overcome her past; a way to start feeling good about herself again. But when she did the step-ups, things began to go very badly.

She started to feel "a pain" in her chest. Elizabeth was suffering from asthma while working out. Trainer Jillian Michaels had Elizabeth breathe from an inhaler while she continued to do the steps, but that didn't end up being a good plan. "360 steps," Elizabeth said. "That's when I really started to feel my chest closing in on me. ... And then my body just gave up."

It was at this point that Elizabeth collapsed from an asthma attack, and she couldn't really manage to breathe. Paramedics arrived and gave her oxygen. But meanwhile, the "step-up" contest continued in the background -- which was fairly creepy. Could the show not be paused for a second, since it seemed like Elizabeth's life was in danger? It made us question what the show is all about. Is it actually about good health, or is it just an endless competition for the sake of ratings? Because keeping the show going while Ms. Ruiz struggled for breath made it seem like health and wellness was not a major concern.

Eventually Elizabeth was revived by the paramedics, but she also cried. "Laying on that stage, I was scared," she said. And then she was cut from the competition

'The Biggest Loser' seems to be hinting at a "twist" where rejected players like Elizabeth will be let back on -- but, we have to ask, is it all worth it? What's the point of this show, if a dopey contest is more important that paying attention to an obese woman suffering from an asthma attack? Maybe it was just weird editing on the part of the producers: Maybe everyone there was very concerned about Ms. Ruiz. But that's not the way that it looked on TV.

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In the Previews the contestants are cheering that they are on the Ranch and about to change their lives. They switch to the trainers and they are angry that they are happy? This is the first year am going to actually sit down and watch this show. Why does it look like they are trying to torture them?

September 22 2010 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've watched this show season after season because I found it inspirational but tonight's episode and the harbinger of what is to come have gone too far.

Every wannabe contestant had a sickening story that was only matched by the next: a woman fighting emotional abuse from her Chinese mother, cancer survivor, loss of siblings, blah blah blah...

I simply can't take it.

And Jillian will be set up to armchair psychiatrist her way into saving these people?


This show and franchise are disgusting and I won't waste another moment of my time...

Enough is enough. This show is appalling on all fronts

September 22 2010 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been a big fan of the biggest loser, but these episodes do make you wonder what the show is really about. If anyone remembers last season the same sort of thing happened in the first episode. They had the contestants riding the equivalent of a marathon on stationary bikes with their partner for a spot on the ranch and one lady was in so much pain that she fell off and they had to call in medics for her. She wanted so badly to be on the ranch that she wanted to keep going even when they told her she couldn't. I just don't think it's wise to have people who are really out of shape doing these type of challenges right off the bat. It was pretty creepy seeing the others still going and even celebrating finishing while this poor woman was laid out beside them. Geez even pro teams pause the game when someone is seriously hurt. It does seem like the BL is becoming more about the drama and ratings lately and I'm not so sure I want to continue watching.

September 22 2010 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lisa's comment
Dzung Nguyen

pro teams pause the game because the injured athlete is on the field of play. they can't resume until he's off the field, which takes a while because it can be dangerous moving somebody that's injured

September 22 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She shouldn't have been a show like that if she knew she had asthma.
And duh...she's not off the show. The fat-tays that last night didn't make it to the ranch will come back later in the season for a shot at going on the show.
And what was that big hunk of skin on the forehead of the cute blond contestant?

September 22 2010 at 8:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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