Credit: Chris Haston
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Another year, another opportunity to watch morbidly obese people toppling off of treadmills. But while the 20 individuals competing for the title of the 13th (!!) Biggest Loser still have numerous miles to climb and Jennie-O promotional tie-ins to film, I personally fulfilled my 2012 pop-culture resolution by sitting through last night’s two-hour premiere without ordering any Indian food. As Bob Harper would say, it was a Biggest Loser breakthrough. [Spoilers ahead]

Those who like to snark about Loser‘s repetitive formula should know that some pretty significant changes occurred during the show’s three-week off-season. First there was the departure of tennis star Anna Kournikova, who spent most of her first (and only) season getting yelled at by a 65-year-old grandmother. Then the remaining trainers, Harper and Dolvett Quince, decided that they weren’t going to take any excuses. Seriously: none. Quince almost popped a blood vessel when members of his red team asked for water and bathroom breaks mid-workout, and Harper accused a young woman of lying when she went to puke in a bucket. Classic excuses! (If you’re bothered by the idea of hearing “NO EXCUSES” and “What’s your excuse?” approximately 15 times an episode for four solid months, then I suggest you quit now. This show is big on its themes. See: any episode from the ‘Pay It Forward’ season.)

But the biggest change this season is actually pretty sinister: For the very first time, Loser will pit brother vs. brother, mother vs. daughter, and husband vs. wife in its sadistic version of the hunger games, as the duos who arrived together in solidarity will now be forced to compete as foes on opposite teams. It was pretty cruel and also probably hilarious that they didn’t tell them this until they were midway through their workouts, but hey, that’s just Loser’s style.

Another cruel Loser twist sent the brother-and-sister aqua team home before they were even able to enter the Ranch’s pearly gates, because it’s not like morbidly obese people have anything else to be embarrassed about. After losing the inaugural relay race, the duo took their loss in (painfully slow) stride after host Alison Sweeney said they’d have a chance to earn back their spots in a month if they could collectively lose 50 lbs. Goodbye aqua team, we hardly knew ye.

The contestants we did get to know (or at least the ones who piqued my interest) showed a variety of quirks that could make for a fun-and-drama-filled season. First, as you can see from the photo above, one of this year’s contestants is actually Santa Claus. “I’m on the good list, right?” Harper teased. Brace yourself for some cookie jokes! I was also a huge fan of 24-year-old Conda, who already announced to Quince (and the world) that she “f—ing hates” her teammate Mike, right in front of said teammate Mike. This could be fun. But most of all I’m pulling for 38-year-old Kim Neilson, a former WWE hottie who gained 112 lbs after a fellow wrestler broke her back on national television. She may not have won tonight’s weigh-in, but she definitely won my heart when I googled her and learned that her wrestling name was Desire. I desire her to win.

Harper’s black team ultimately lost the weigh-in by a smidgen, but the elimination was a dud since Ben (one of the unhealthiest competitors on the show, natch) volunteered to go home despite pulling the best number on his team. Something about missing his family, not needing to be a TV star, and so on and so forth. Keep in mind, it had only been a week.

So, viewers — who are you pulling for this year? Are you a fan of the brutal twist, or did you want the couples season to be an actual couples season? Did you order a Vindaloo, or a Korma? I would have gone with the Korma. Let us know in the comments!

Episode Recaps

The Biggest Loser

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