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5 Shows like The Biggest Loser: Nowhere to Hide

Charlotte Lucas itcher‘The Biggest Loser’ is the ultimate diet competition: a group of overweight individuals compete for a cash prize by attempting to lose the most weight. It is transformation television at its finest – we, as viewers, love to see makeovers, and overhauls equal entertainment. If you’re addicted to TV shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’, you must check out ‘Weighing Up The Enemy’ or ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ for that voyeuristic look into the lives of others. ~ Charlotte Lucas

Up Close and Personal

We seem to have a morbid fascination with other people’s struggles – this is how reality shows have come to be so popular. ‘The Biggest Loser’ is so entertaining because we can feel sorry for these people and root for our favourite contestants.

This can make for uncomfortable viewing as we watch the unfit contestants struggle through intense exercise regimes and restricted diets. The following recommendations will give you that same feeling of being a fly on the wall in the personal lives of strangers – will we see them triumph or watch as they fall?

Read on for series similar to ‘The Biggest Loser’.


Shows Similar to ‘The Biggest Loser’…

‘Supersize vs Superskinny’ (Remarkable Television, 2008–Present)

This show takes an in-depth look at those who eat to an extreme – both the overeaters and under eaters. One dangerously underweight person competes with a dangerously overweight contestant to become a more healthy weight. They do this by eating each other’s diets, completely overhauling their respective ways of life.

Whether this is safe or not, it’s ridiculously fascinating and seems to work. Contestants usually put on or lose weight as needed, getting closer and closer to their goal. The show also raises questions about how we eat as a society. Are our habits normal?

The host is the charismatic TV doctor, Christian Jessen. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of him as the list goes on.

Similarity Match: 90%
Though ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’ is much more personal and emotional than ‘The Biggest Loser’, they both have that crucial competition element to them.

‘Weighing Up the Enemy’ (Maverick Television, 2015–Present)

This is a competition where overweight people put their money where their mouth is. Hosted by Doctor Christian Jessen (also of ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’), two large contestants go head to head in losing weight, forfeiting their own cash, which the other person will spend if they do not manage to lose more weight. This works as a serious motivator as the participants are usually very different, so will want their money spent on very different things.

The competition is fierce and fast-paced – the animosity between contestants is palpable and doesn’t seem overly directed. Like any diet show, ‘Weighing Up The Enemy’ has attracted some controversy for its unusual methods. Read this review which highlights some of the show’s failings.

Similarity Match: 85%
‘The Biggest Loser’ and ‘Weighing Up The Enemy’ use competition to motivate weight loss in their contestants. The former just works so much better due to its more established format.

‘Extreme Weight Loss’ (American Broadcasting Company, 2011–Present)

Formerly known as ‘Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition’, this American show handles the issue of obesity more sensitively. The issues that lead people to become overweight are explained, with the back stories of contestants lending more of an understanding to the issue. The emphasis is not on competition or rivalry between contestants, which is refreshing and makes the show stand out amongst the reams of ‘fat TV’ programmes.

The overweight people featured on the show are given a makeover by being encouraged to lose an extreme amount of weight. Losing a lot of weight so quickly is a recipe for controversy, as this show has already found: read this article which details some of the medical questions concerning the concept.

Similarity Match: 70%
Though the aim is the same, ‘Extreme Weight Loss’ has more heart than ‘The Biggest Loser’.


If You Like ‘The Biggest Loser’, You Will Like…

The following suggestions are like ‘The Biggest Loser’ as they show those private moments in life that we wouldn’t usually have access to. However, they are not preoccupied with weight loss and tackling the obesity crisis – let’s move away from ‘fat TV’ and tune in to some general health programming.

Here in Britain, we have some pretty good medical shows, proving just as toe-curling and wince-inducing as the weight loss competitions. Read on as I guide you through more TV series like ‘The Biggest Loser’ – let’s get under that scalpel!

‘Embarrassing Bodies’ (Maverick Television, 2007–2015)

You’ll never guess who’s back – it’s Doctor Christian Jessen! This time, he and his team of TV medical professionals are delving deep into the (embarrassing) body parts of the nation. Televised problems have included obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and piles, among other things. If this sounds like an excruciating attempt at entertainment, you’d be right.

The doctors aren’t the only ones getting so up close and personal with British bodies: the camera gets everywhere and you may get more than you bargained for when watching this show. If you weren’t squeamish before, you will be now.

Despite the show presenting us with eye-popping sores and harrowing scenes, the overall message is that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies and our various medical issues. ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ offers helpful and accurate medical advice, so that’s an upside to all the gunk and gore.

‘Embarrassing Bodies’ is just as invasive as ‘The Biggest Loser’ but it’s all in the name of health – that can only be a good thing. Right?

’24 Hours in A&E’ (The Garden Productions Ltd, 2011–Present)

This documentary series shows another side of Accident and Emergency – the side that we usually wouldn’t see. Viewers watch a 24 hour span of agonised loved ones, patients in critical conditions and overall desperately emotional scenes. There are no holds barred and it is often hard to watch, particularly if you don’t like blood.

There are some really heart-rending moments, with sad goodbyes and tears of happiness when a patient can be saved. It’s sensitively done, but if you don’t like to spend time in a hospital in reality, you may not want to spend your virtual reality in a ward either.

Although ’24 Hours in A&E’ breaks the usual barriers of privacy in the name of entertainment, it is more sensitively handled and emotional than ‘The Biggest Loser’.


Avert Your Eyes

Shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ are shameless entertainment. We love to see people go through struggles only to emerge victorious (and forty pounds lighter). Indeed, we love to root for the underdog, to find that they were the clear winner all along.

Whether these shows portray a realistic or safe way to reach a healthy lifestyle is an entirely other matter. ‘Fat TV’ will always attract controversy and concerns for the health of the contestants, but it’s a revolving door: when one show is cancelled, another will be created to take its place.

What did you think about these recommendations? Let us know in the comments.

itcher Mag is the place for entertainment recommendations across movies, books, music and games.
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