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'Losing It With Jillian': Whoa! S-L-O-W down

This show is giving me whiplash. And I'm going to send my chiropractic bills to NBC.

Here's the problem with "Losing It With Jillian": The show has been billed as the "behind the scenes" of "The Biggest Loser," giving the viewers insight into Jillian Michaels' methods for getting people to lose jaw-dropping amounts of weight and turning their lives around. But this is just too much to pack into 60 minutes (actually, about 42 minutes, once you count commercials).

The result is that the show's pivot points can feel trite and shallow -- not because of the content but because there's not enough time to let the audience take in the dilemmas, let them sink in and allow some tension (and empathy) to build before the issues resolve themselves. Not a good thing for a show that is supposed to be all about diving beneath the surface. Even the theme song seems truncated and rushed.

Take the first week's heart-wrenching episode, about the parents who had yet to come to grips with the death of their son. They decided as a family that they should put a headstone on the infant's grave. But that thread was left unresolved on the show. I happened to run into Michaels later that week at "The Biggest Loser" ranch, and the first thing I said was "The headstone! Did the baby get his headstone?!?!?" (I was about to offer to pay for it myself if they hadn't.) Jillian threw up her hands and rolled her eyes. It turns out the family did indeed get their headstone, and they did have a graveside service. "It was lovely, it was really lovely," she added. And yet the audience never got to see it because there was no time to cram it into that episode.

The next episode felt choppy for the same reason: trying to jam too much into the story about a widow and mother of two whose husband had died suddenly due in part to his obesity issues. There was also an annoying segue when the daughter went haywire. (She claimed she was upset because Michaels was giving her mother the business, but you know it was because Michaels shushed her for butting in, and teenage girls don't like being shushed on TV. Cue the dramatic waterworks.)

The pacing in this week's show was the best so far, but it would have been nice to learn more about Ruth, who struggled in short order with a divorce she never saw coming, ovarian cancer, a job loss and weight gain that left her at 300 pounds when she should weigh about 170. It also left her with a garage filled to the brim with "stuff" and two daughters following in her footsteps.

It seemed, though, like we'd barely had the briefest outlines of her story when -- boom! -- she had a garage sale to get rid of it all -- boom! -- she was in the gym declaring that she was a changed woman -- boom! -- she was going on a date for the first time since her divorce -- boom! -- she lost 74 pounds even though we barely saw her dieting or exercising.

My thought was: Did she even need Michaels? Of course, the answer was yes, as Ruth tearfully told Michaels at the end: "Thank you for saving our lives. ... You will always have a place in our hearts and in our home and in our family."

But it would have been nice to see more of it. Not exactly sure what the solution is. Could the show go two hours, like "Biggest Loser"? Could they do Part 1 one week, and have a "To Be Continued" for the next? Is there a way to boil down the setup even more, so the story could focus on the work? I don't have the answers.

The show excels, though, at making people realize that change happens in an instant. (Although that's just the start of all the hard work to come.) And the root message is certainly inspiring: You don't always need 20 years on a therapist's couch. Sometimes you just need someone to drag you around the gym like a rag doll and tell you to "get over it." It worked for Ruth.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Jillian Michaels tears through Ruth's kitchen cabinets, pouring out the sugar. Unless I am mistaken, this scene also didn't make it into the final episode. Credit: NBC Universal

Comments () | Archives (9)

I agree totally with this article. In fact, with the episode with Ruth, why was the son totally left out of everything, granted he didn't need to lose weight like the others but he was totally ignored, never shown talking with Jillian, sharing his own goals, it was like he didn't exist! I was furious to see the only male left in this family and obviously in healthy shape somewhat that could have helped his sisters and mother just shoved aside.....the yelling, anger, non caring approach we see from Jillian on what they are able to show on TV is disgusting!

I agree. I was so looking forward to this show I was hoping to get more Tips and Tricks out of it that I get out of Biggest Loser but I am really disappointed.

Not sure I will keep watching to be honest.

I couldn't agree more with this. I think I'm done with the show because I'm sure they've all been edited and are ready to roll.

The other problem is the big bonus prize at the end of the episode. It makes the whole this seem like it's for money -- like everything else on TV. Why isn't the internal change and the 1:1 education motivation enough? If there must be a monetary prize or gift at the end, couldn't it be less?

I agree with the show being too much content packed in one hour. I too was puzzled over the exclusion of Ruth's son so much that I was yelling at the TV..."what about the boy!?!" I'm not sure I'd commit to a two hour Jillian show, maybe 90 minutes?

Having an overweight 10 year old girl, we were hoping this show would shed some light on addressing the issues in childhood before the kid ends up 300 lbs. Losin It seems to be alot of crying with little insight into helping the kids. All kids are college age. The younger ones get little attention and focus is on depressed parents. Not such a big fan of the show o far.

I agree that the show can seem rushed, especially after we are used to the 2-hour format of Biggest Loser, but I'm still a fan of the show. I especially like that they have moved it to 8pm and helps to keep me motivated and away from unhealthy evening snacks.

I really hope the show continues as it is much more inspirational than some of the other summer programming. Jillian can be tough but that seems to be what these people need. And regarding the money factor, the contestants don't know money is coming at the end so that cannot be their motivation to get healthy, unlike on the Biggest Loser.

Count me in next week!

are we watching the same show? Could it be longer so the viewer has more time to learn about the family sure but I'm guessing that if they did that then many people would complain it's too long or spent to much time on one thing or another. What I take away from the show is that it's inspiring to see these families make real changes in their lives and honestly for most people no one will see all of their hard work anyway.

I'm enjoying this show and can't wait for the next one...

I'm liking it because it is inspirational and good to see people doing positive things in their lives, but I agree that it's too rushed. It really should be a 2 hour format so we can see more of the process - learning about healthier food (not just sponsors products like TBL) learning about how to start exercising after never doing it, learning how to communicate better with family members. I think Jillian, while she's occasionally over the top with the yelling, is doing it right, but the editors and producers are cop outs and just want the tears and fabulous makeovers.
Ordinarily I don't watch reality TV, and would almost never suggest expanding a reality show, but this one is begging for it. Plus it's summer, and it's not like NBC has tons of other great programming their trying to jam into their schedule.


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