Jackie Warner: still unlikeable despite having editing control on Thintervention

Jackie Warner’s second Bravo series, Thintervention, ended last night after eight episodes of working with a group of people to help them lose weight. Although we’re used to hard-core trainers on reality TV now, thanks to The Biggest Loser, Jackie seems especially unlikeable.

That’s weird because she’s an executive producer and now has editing control as a result of her experience on Work Out, on which she actually came off better than she does on this show. (That series ended after Jackie’s nastiness led a sponsor to drop out; still, Bravo brought her back.)

The best part of her new weight-loss series, the group therapy sessions, notably minimized Jackie’s role, as the camera cuts to her just to remind us that she’s there. The therapist, Ramani Durvasula, is much more genuinely warm and supportive, while Jackie seems to confuse being obnoxious and mean with tough love. Even when she’s smiling or acting enthusiastic, it comes off like an act.

I talked to her briefly in L.A. about a month before the show’s debut, and she told me Thintervention is “my dream show, a show that I’d be really proud of. … I control the editing, I control everything in terms of creatively. I don’t control it, but my hand is in it. So nothing happens without me knowing it. So if there’s something that’s an issue with me, then I’m going to change it. I always like to say, Work Out happened to me and Thintervention, I made happen.”

She said that “not having editing control is very different and painful in a different way. Because when you have edit control you see the first product that comes to you, and it’s usually crappy and then I panic and then I get in the editing room and I’m like, ‘We gotta fix it. We gotta fix it. We gotta fix it.’ So it’s much more of a burden.”

Jackie told me that having control is “not [about] coming off better. I want more take-away. So where are the really amazing things I said to these people and speeches I gave? Bring more of that in. So, less me just training them and more of the inspiring things and the secrets and tips I’ve accumulated throughout my career.” She added that while there’s nothing about her personal life, “If there’s some negative things or people are saying bad things about me, I let it stay, because I want a well-rounded show, and I think it’s really interesting to see all perspectives. I learned that from Work Out, that you need to let the good, the bad, and the ugly all exist.”

That’s great, but including those things made her even more unlikeable. The irony is that on Work Out, the away-from-work and segments about her personal life humanized her even as she got increasingly unlikeable over the series’ arc. On this show, her scripted voice-overs and awkward interaction just made her even less relatable and engaging.

As we talked about weight loss and weight loss reality shows, Jackie told me, “It takes an aggressive third party to know what’s best and to constantly be pushing you to your limits.” I think Thintervention proves the same is true for reality TV editing.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.