Finally, somebody’s putting the long-overdue stop to the nightmarish practice of yelling at overweight people on television while dangling large cash prizes.
NBC’s The Biggest Loser has been cancelled, according to The Daily Mail, amidst a legal battle between contestants and Dr. Robert Huizenga (“Dr. H”) involving his form of healthcare.
In March, Dr. H filed a defamation suit against the Post and Gwynn seeking punitive damages of over $75,000—necessary “to protect Dr. H’s hard-earned reputation and stature in the medical community,” according to the complaint.
In particular, it takes issue with several New York Post articles published in 2016. The complaint reads:
The Defamatory Posts contain numerous false, fabricated, fictitious and outright libelous statements about Dr. H and his treatment of past contestants on the Show, including false statements by former contestant Joelle Gwynn. Among other things, the Defamatory Posts falsely state that the Show employs “secret and brutal tactics, which include providing illicit drugs to contestants and submitting them to questionable medical exams by the [S]how’s resident doctor, Robert Huizenga, known as ‘Dr. H’.”
Now The Daily Mail cites new court documents saying that “Ms. Gwynn’s outrageous accusations” have “resulted in the cancellation of The Biggest Loser and Dr. Huizenga losing two other opportunities on television.”
Joelle Gwynn’s attorny Mona Houck said the suit has no grounds.
“The concern over protracted litigation and chilled speech are of particular concern in a case such as this one, involving an individual defendant offering a first-hand account of her own experiences and opinions,” she wrote in a statement published by The Hollywood Reporter. “Plaintiff has not come forward with a single fact supporting any showing of actual malice, and Ms. Gwynn should not be subjected to the demands of discovery and protracted litigation as he fishes for support he can never find.”
The unspoken question of the show–whether rapid extreme weight loss is sustainable and even just okay–was considered last year by a group of researchers who studied the aftermath of the regimen on fourteen contestants. The study, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, found that their metabolisms never returned to normal—in fact, they slowed, making it inordinately difficult to keep off the weight.
In any case, may the sun set on this ugly era of television.