In the awkward season finale of ''The Biggest Loser,'' the still hefty Ryan edged out slim Gary and curvy Kelly. Did he deserve to win? Weigh in!

By Annie Barrett
Updated January 11, 2005 at 12:00 PM EST
Credit: The Biggest Loser: Trae Patton/NBC
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Did Ryan deserve to win ”The Biggest Loser”? Weigh in!

Having spent the better part of the last two days re-watching all of my recorded episodes of The Biggest Loser, I went into tonight’s finale feeling lazy, worthless, hungry, and kind of fat. So at the beginning of the show, when the narrator wondered who would be ”crowned” America’s biggest loser, I thought the answer was obvious. “Me! I will!” I shouted to the TV.

So imagine my surprise when useless host Caroline Rhea announced Ryan as the winner instead. I was shocked. I had just sat through almost 12 hours of trainer-contestant hugs, weepy confessionals, and countless slow-motion ingestions of turkey bacon. How could the biggest loser not have been me?

Well, a few reasons. To start, I was not on the show. Furthermore, in the Biggest Loser lexicon, being a huge loser is actually a good thing. Yeah. Did anyone else actually go along with that, or did you all cringe like me each time one of the contestants spoke passionately about becoming the biggest loser? It just doesn’t work.

On to the real big losers. (Hey, they asked for it.) The episode showed the three finalists — Kelly, Gary, and Ryan — returning home, where they spent more than 10 weeks trying to maintain their healthy lifestyles from the low-fat ranch. (The next logical word here is ”dressing,” but this was definitely just a ranch. In fact, right now, I can’t get rid of Caroline Rhea’s voice saying the word ”ranch” over and over. That and ”okay,” which she kept repeating when the awkward live portion of the show seemed in danger of going long.)

None of their friends or family members could believe how great the final three looked. Gary’s mom even commented that after losing so much weight, her son ”takes up so much less space in the universe.” Awww. That was so meta. Love you too, Mom. Teacher Kelly’s entire high school (dressed in red) packed into the gym for a mandatory assembly and freaked out when she walked in (dressed in red). Ryan joined his wife’s gym and totally bummed her out with his new salad-and-turkey-breast meal plan. In perhaps the most shameless plug for a network’s corporate partner yet, the couple took their nieces and nephews to Universal Studios, where he could finally pull the safety bar on rides down to an acceptable level. He gushed about how great this is for his self-esteem; plus, he no longer has to worry about the kids who might have fallen through the gap on those ultra-scary Universal Studios tram rides. Awww. He is such a loser! The good kind!

The contestants confessed to the camera that eating right and working out was proving difficult without personal trainers Bob and Jillian there to torture them. I kept waiting for poor Kelly, who seemed to have the hardest time at home, to cave in and opt for a quick-fix lipo instead, but no! Not on The Biggest Loser, where quitters never win and winners are actually losers. See, I’m getting the hang of this.

Then came the Live. Portion. Of the show. Caroline Ranch Dressing bounded in and burbled awkwardly for a few minutes about how great everyone looked. You could tell she was so jealous of Kelly, who looks exactly like Courteney Cox. Okay, maybe more like Courteney Cox when they made her Fat Monica on Friends, but still, Kelly’s really pretty. Like a ”gorgeous butterfly just ready to take off,” even. Awww. That was so cheesy. Love you too, Kelly’s mom.

The awkward factor rose even higher when Ranch Dressing told the audience she thinks Ryan’s wife, Mariah, looks like her. I couldn’t tell if Mariah was laughing or crying. She could have been hyperventilating. I kept looking around the set for Regis Philbin to come swooping in as he did on the Apprentice finale to save Donald Trump from more public speaking. No such luck.

After Kelly mounted the scale, we were suddenly informed that the winning loser would be chosen using some heretofore unannounced formula combining the percentages of weight and body fat lost. Even though Gary was the only one who actually looked fit, that formula made Ryan the winner of $250,000.

Suddenly I was pissed off. These people mounted giant scales in their sports bras and tight shorts, week after week. Cameras followed them around a house that doubled as a junk food obstacle course, complete with doughnut mountains and caramel-apple forts. It was sort of like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but sans magic and plus Caroline Rhea. The contestants baked brownies for skinny people and transported giant blocks of food with their mouths like animals for money and prizes. They all deserve a million dollars, or at least a good lawsuit for emotional distress.

Yes, the show was often cruel. But like the contents of each contestant’s Comfort Food Fridge, it was a sinfully delicious guilty pleasure. I watched it religiously, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it simply provided viewers with the opportunity to get in a good cry at the tearful ”If I can do it, anyone can!” scenes, be thankful their own extra pounds aren’t oozing out on camera, and even think about joining a gym.

Of course, for some viewers, the effects might not be so inspiring. I better go now — my boyfriend just arrived at my apartment bearing late-night calzones. I have to start fattening myself up if I want to be next season’s winner.

I mean, loser. Oops.

What do you think? Is the series inspiring or insensitive? Did Ryan deserve to win the money? And are you going to watch the surprise runner-up episode next week?

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The Biggest Loser

Contestants battle the bulge and each other in the competitive weight-loss series
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