Today's Washington Post story about the popularity of plus-size TV shows actually begins, "Have a sandwich, Twiggy."
Writer Neal Justin is trying to make the point that the rash of plus-size TV shows — Drop Dead Diva, Dance Your Ass Off; Ruby, More To Love and The Biggest Loser — are getting great ratings, and writes: "Fat is suddenly fabulous, at least on TV." Not in real life! In real life it's still totally gross, okay?
But what Justin wants to know is why. Why would people want to watch shows with plus-size characters? He writes, "Why this appetite for fuller-figured personalities?" But it almost sounds like: Why would you want to watch fatties?
You'd think, since according to one study, "adult obesity rates increased in 23 states last year," it's about American audiences seeing a reflection of themselves.
But Paul Telegdy, who oversees NBC's reality programming (including Biggest Loser) says: "I think it embraces a concern and a worry that keeps a lot of Americans awake at night." Hear that? You're lying awake at night, afraid to get fat, which makes you watch The Biggest Loser.
Yeah, I'll just go ahead and say: Bullshit! If you're watching these shows, it's because there's drama, and a human story. We love a personal story, and if it's personal, it's universal. Even if you've never been overweight, you can understand the range of human emotions showcased on these programs: Frustration, heartbreak, dedication, triumph. As Loser host Alison Sweeney says: "[The show] strikes at the heart of the human spirit.You see people being able to overcome this obstacle that seems insurmountable. Miracles can happen."
And honestly? It's not like plus-size, overweight, fat or large people all live sequestered from society. In many cases, they're your mom, your dad, your aunt, your uncle, you, me. It's not strange that people are interested in seeing plus-size people on TV; it's strange that up until now, plus-size people have been mostly ignored on TV.