'The Biggest Loser's Jillian Michaels Is Leaving Again But Will She Return?
Who will kick the butts of the contestants on Season 16 since Jillian Michaels is departing The Biggest Loser ? Whoever it is, that person may not have the gig for long — this is historically the third time Michaels has left the popular weight-loss competition (ick, I cringe. I hate the idea of extreme weight loss getting rewarded, but we'll get back to that in a bit). However, since third time is often the charm (you're welcome, Platitudes R Us), will this be the kicker? Will Michaels depart the show and just focus on making us cry as we do her shred workouts in our living rooms, beholden to the mercy of our judgmental roommates? Or will Michaels be back for Season 17? And if that's the case, why did Michaels decide to take a sabbatical now?
While no exact answer has been confirmed yet, there's a plausible assumption that we can make.
If you can recall, back in February, The Biggest Loser contestant Rachel Frederickson caused a bit of a scandal — call it Weightgate, Losergate, Skinnyshamegate, whatever you want — because she lost so much weight on the show. Her weight dropped to an appallingly low 105 pounds. She was the cause of many a thinkpiece, but she also sort of served as a microcosm of what's wrong with the show.
Yes, as human beings, we are competitive in nature. It's fun to have a fitness buddy, so of course The Biggest Loser makes sense in terms of viewership — people like watching people compete. Why do you think the show American Gladiators is a thing, other than the spandex? But The Biggest Loser has done more than pit people against each other in skintight spandex. The show has taken something that's a big struggle for many Americans — health — and has thrown it out of whack.
Extreme weight loss is not a healthy mode of life, and to be rewarded for extremism is even worse. But nobody wants to watch The Moderate Weight Loss Challenge, in which over the course of 2 years, contestants eat balanced diets of protein, whole grains, and veggies, exercise at a high intensity but not at the expense of their careers or personal lives, and then win a prize of a healthy heart and a long-lasting, maintainable weight. And what network would ever buy that?
Certainly not a network on basic cable, that's for sure — at least, not until The Network That Exists in My Mind gets picked up by NBC.
Further, Michaels' departure may be closely linked to this.
Michaels had addressed Frederickson's weight loss (she's gained some pounds back, by the way) earlier this year — she admitted Frederickson's loss wasn't health, Moreover, Michaels' background is in sports medicine, physical therapy, and personal training — in other words, in health and in well-being. Despite her drill sergeant-esque workouts, she is interested in an image of health, not extremism. Perhaps she wanted to isolate herself from a show that promotes such drastic change at such a high cost.
While that's simply speculation, it seems pretty viable. It's to be determined if The Biggest Loser will succeed in the absence of Michaels, but if it fails, perhaps it was time for the show to hang up its sweatband. Maybe it's time for a show that teaches contestants how to live healthy, balanced lives — and if that's not sellable to networks, then maybe it's at least time to increase the volume of the conversation about health, balance, and actual well-being.