Biggest Loser Couples debuts; competition component was originally minimized

On the first day of 2008, NBC debuted The Biggest Loser 5, a season featuring couples. Once again, the show also brought back its game-within-a-game, having couples vote each other off while they work to lose weight.

However, the Los Angeles Times reports that wasn’t the plan at the start of the season, as the controversial part of the show–executive producer J.D. Roth “found himself defending the premise at every turn – even to his wife,” according to the paper–almost got dropped. “As shooting of the new season got underway, there were other changes too, including less emphasis on competition and more on training together as one large group and focusing on the often dysfunctional relationships that landed contestants on the show,” the L.A. Times reports.

Trainer Jillian Michaels says, “It was like that for a few minutes, until it became ‘too Kumbaya.’ … It doesn’t make very good TV.” However, she also said that part of the show “makes me physically sick,” trainer Jillian Michaels told the paper. “I don’t want to use what I do to send someone else home. I’m angst-ridden over it. I can’t sleep before eliminations. My friends are like ‘It’s just a show!’ and I can’t look at it like that. It has too much gravity to me.”

Bob Harper, who the Times reports “believes his work is carrying out God’s calling for him,” told the paper that he’s bothered by it, too. “I hate it … it’s just not who I am. I prefer the camaraderie over the competition. But it is what it is,” he said. Perhaps because of that, or perhaps just because of their commitment, the trainers “both continue to offer contestants support personally long after they’ve left the show,” according to the paper.

Meanwhile, Kim Lyons said again that she didn’t return for the new season because of projects she’s working on. However, the Los Angeles Times says that executive producer Roth said Kim “was not asked to return for” the new season, and both he and Kim “[were] noncommittal about whether she’d be back.”