Has Fat TV Maxed Out?

New A&E show Heavy, which premiered last night, is not a competition game show like The Biggest Loser or Dance Your Ass Off, nor is it a gimmicky makeover program like The Swan or Bridalplasty.


It's a "docudrama," in which real people face a real problem: Dealing with life-threatening obesity.

That said, it is not very interesting to watch.

Each episode follows two (unrelated) people as they enter an intense, six-month treatment program. Last night, cameras followed Tom and Jodi — both 37 and from Houston, TX — as they talked about how their weight impacted their lives, and as they learned to work out and eat more health-consciously. Basically, there's tons and tons of footage of Tom (who starts out at 638 lbs.) and Jodi (363 lbs.) working out, then crying or feeling that they can't go on, then working out, then working out some more, and working out some more. The show ends on a "feel-good" note, with both participants having made substantial progress — Tom lost a whopping 1/3 of his total weight — but we're warned that it's not the end, it's the beginning. There's no happy ending, just another step in a process.

Watching the show elicits several reactions: One may feel rather lazy as one lies on one's couch, watching people struggle with all their might to do push-ups. One may feel inspired by the strength and willpower of these folks, who are tackling what seems like an insurmountable project — after all the hours and hours of personal training, buckets of sweat and tears, they are still not at their goal weights after six months. But one may also wonder, has this genre — Fat TV — reached its max potential? Is there anything left to add? After Huge, More To Love, The Biggest Loser, Mike & Molly, Ruby and Drop Dead Diva, we have had quite a lot of "a weighty person talks about weight" TV. Do we really need yet another show that reinforces the idea that the most important thing about fat people is not that they're people, but that they're fat?

(Also, is it a coincidence that this show uses the music from workout game EA Sports Active?)



I don't think fat TV has maxed out. I think fat as a stand alone TV show is not the best subject for a variety of reasons. I was impressed when Glee added a larger cast member to their diverse cast (which already included Mercedes) and that is what inclusive TV should be striving for. Us fat people work in police stations, law firms, and all the other places that are profiled in weekly dramas and comedies and we should be represented as that.