So last night, The Biggest Loser went to Las Vegas. The idea, ostensibly, was to throw more distractions in the path of the contestants. In reality, the show was all about advertising for a) Planet Hollywood, b) the Las Vegas tourism board and c) gambling interests. Oh, sorry, did I say gambling? I mean gaming.
Contestants were faced with two temptations:
Number one was the menu at Planet Hollywood. I’ve eaten at a Planet Hollywood, and temptation isn’t the word that springs to mind. Maybe for some people, scoffing mediocre cheeseburgers while staring at the motorcycle jacket Arnie wore in Terminator 2 is a thrill. For the rest of us, not so much.
Number two was the chance to win big money – as long as the contestants agreed to forgo personal training for the rest of the week. The five who chose this option were dealt from a deck of special cards, with values ranging from $1 to $5000. Incredibly, not one of the five was dealt a card worth less than $1000. Wow. What are the chances?
Later, another special moment: one of the contestants at a slot machine, down to her last dollars, explained that she just ‘felt’ this machine was about to hit. Oh, the tragic cry of the hardened gambler! How little she knew about the true odds of really winning! But yes, you guessed it – she was right. That little puppy paid out over $1600 for the cameras! Oddly enough, the winning combination was… drum roll… three Planet Hollywood symbols, which we got to see in close up. Hmmm.
I love Vegas. Truly, I do. It’s crazy, it’s magical and it has an atmosphere like no other place on earth. But selling this relentless picture of winning – nay, of Big Losers winning – is just… grrrrr. Sometimes you win, sure. Mostly you don’t. If you’re okay with that and play what you can afford to lose, no problem. But on NBC, you get dealt in – bang! – a thousand dollars. You ‘sense’ a machine’s potential – bang! – sixteen hundred. You feed in your very last dollars – bang! – you win big. Double or nothing? – bang! – it’s double every time. What’s more, you can use all this winning euphoria to help you forget other things – like the fact you weigh 350 lbs and will be eating carrots and steamed fish for dinner.
You have to admire the show’s gall. Take a bunch of people with impulse and control issues and set them loose in Las Vegas. Better yet, stack the deck in their favour. Show them – and us – how easy it is to win. Oh, Biggest Losers. You think food is addictive? You have no idea.
Sublime snark about all things television at teletart’s place.