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Biggest Loser’s cruelest elements: weigh-in outfits, two-hour episodes, more

The Biggest Loser returns tonight for its 12th season, and it has gotten its own makeover: Jillian Michaels and the show’s producers are out, and Justin Bieber’s trainer and Anna Kournikova are in.

It would be the perfect time for the show to dump its most egregious elements, primarily its offensive product placement and glacial pace, but I’m not holding my breath.

On his hilarious site 11 Points, my friend Sam Greenspan has listed the 11 cruelest aspects of The Biggest Loser, and his list turns out to be a list of what’s wrong with the show. Unlike me, Sam actually still watches the show, but about the only point I disagree with him on is the temptation challenges, which are somewhat cruel but are also a good approximation of the tough choices people face in the real world.

But otherwise he hits it all: the bloated, two-hour episodes; the increasing obesity of the contestants; the unrealistic expectations the show creates (never mind that it gave a contestant an eating disorder); the shameless whoring for products like gum. For the sake of the show, its audience, and its contestants, I hope at least some of that changes along with the trainers.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.