The contestants mess with Texas to help solve the state's obesity epidemic

By Kate Ward
April 28, 2010 at 04:00 PM EDT
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
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  • TV Show
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Okay, are you guys ready to watch the premiere of The Biggest Loser next week? I say this because, up until this point, NBC has tricked us: We weren’t watching the ninth season of the series’ couples installment — we were actually tuning into a heart-wrenching program called The Sunshine & O’Neal Show. Well, until last night, when one-half of the show’s stars was booted off the season. Yes, O’Neal’s exit was a big one — fitting though, considering last night’s episode was all about big things. Like Texas, where everything’s bigger. The food. The people. The penis size (according to cheeky t-shirts that are only worn by men whose anatomy in no way actually reflects that statement).

At the beginning of the episode, Ali gathered all the contestants and told them they’d be relocating this week to help train some of the most unfit people in the country. This surprised me, since they would have to be like Santa Claus to be able to travel to the basements belonging to the mothers of every World of Warcraft player in the States. But, I was wrong! Apparently, the most unfit place in the country is Texas, where up to 75 percent of the state’s population will one day be obese. Wowza.

So all our teams went off, ready to go mess with Texas. And we learned a few things upon Biggest Loser‘s first camera shots of the state: Apparently, long, long ago, a wizard traveled to Texas and turned all its cows to stone. And now, Ali was standing amongst those cows, telling the contestants that they’d be running a 5K, along with several lucky radio listeners. So first, to broadcast the event, the teams went off to radio stations, where we learned Texas has as many flags as it does obese people.

But before we could get to the 5K, Jillian took the time to take Sunshine and Ashley shopping at Walgreens, because, apparently, in Minneapolis and Knoxville, Tenn., women craft personal hygiene products out of livestock hides and tree sap, and have never heard of these fancy ol’ things called ”drugstores” before. And the trainer managed to dodge an awkward moment by somehow not including tampons in her list of things girls shop for at Walgreens. (”As girls, when we need overall health products, whether it’s toothpaste, toothbrushes…light bulbs…things that rhyme with raxi rads…” Kidding on those last two.)

Now, ready for the 5K! At first, I was a bit skeptical about the effectiveness of this campaign. After all, most of the runners we saw in the first shot looked pretty healthy. But then, after the contestants delivered some inspirational speeches — and we saw that Ali was quite cold — the race got started, and we heard the stories of some of the heavier runners competing. Koli told us that a dude named Jeff is awesome, Mike said if he ”could just touch one person out of hundreds that I meet, that’s my success story,” and O’Neal talked to a fellow storyteller so passionate and sobby, the stadium split in two — not able to handle the inspirational-ness of the moment — and unicorns began hopping out of the crack that now existed in the Earth.

NEXT: Just a spoonful of sugar helps the product-placements go down!

Meanwhile, Daris had a goal in mind: He was going to finish that 5K in 21 minutes, which is incredibly impressive, considering I run every day and can only do a 5K in 25 minutes, at my fastest. (I am no Michael Johnson, though.) But after he achieved the goal, the curly-topped one was headed to the back of the pack, where he decided to run alongside the final person running with the orange team. So sweet.

Watch out, Texas. While the Biggest Loser contestants were busy inspiring folks at the 5K, Bob was headed to a gym, where he stood by treadmills and watched people work out while pulling products out of his pants Mary Poppins-style. ”You want to work hard? Well, here is some Biggest Loser protein powder. You want to eat something? Well, try to chase after this Subway sandwich I’m dangling in front of you!” After working out with the Texans, Bob hosted a Q&A, where people asked him questions like, ”Can I run if I have bad knees?” ”Yes,” Bob said. ”Brita water filters are scientifically combined with a mineral that cures all ailments!” Another woman asked, ”Bob, I need to lose five more pounds. How do I do so?” ”Well,” Bob said, ”Anyone can lose five pounds, as long as they eat this delicious Yoplait yogurt. Yoplait? More like Go-plait! Yum!” Then another person asked, ”Bob, can I take you home?” ”Haha!” Bob said. ”I know you all want to cradle me because I remind you of a leprechaun-kitten hybrid. You can’t do that, but I do have good news: You can actually take me home with the Biggest Loser app!” Okay, only that last one actually happened.

Back at the hotel — bow-chica-wow-aow! — the partner-less Daris, Mike, and Ashley decided to bond by exercising in secret, and thereby gaining an advantage over the grey and yellow teams. The three cast members opted to run up 33 flights of stairs (wow!), a scene that was impressive, but would have been more interesting if they were being chased by Supermarket Sweep‘s Mr. Yuck.

Time for the challenge! This week, the Biggest Loser producers made the cast dress up in cowboy hats, which surprised me because I thought Big Brother was the only show that forced contestants to wear embarrassing costumes. (What’s next? Chicken outfits?) I do, however, have to give accolades to Biggest Loser‘s costuming department for always managing to find ways to match the contestants’ hats to their colors. (I will not give accolades, though, to Ali’s stylist, who decided a checkered coat goes well over a rodeo shirt.) This week’s challenge proved to be a difficult one: The seven contestants had to wrangle baby bulls into a pen. A great opportunity for comedy, yes, but only Mike seemed to deliver with pratfalls. (O’Neal’s pratfalls would have been a heck of a lot funnier had Sunshine not treated every one like O’Neal was falling off a cliff.) At first, it looked like Daris would bag the win — and therefore immunity — since I’m pretty sure you have to get a calf-wrangling license by the time you’re 13 if you live in Oklahoma. But Koli — with the help of Sam — and O’Neal were also performing strong, thanks to their teammates’ help. Before long, we had, according to Ali, ”a three-way…” (bow-chica-wow-aow!) ”…tie” (oh, well), and Koli eventually was named the victor after he and Sam wrangled seven cows into his pen.

Jillian then went back to school, back to school, to show the kids, that working out doesn’t make them a fool. There, she joined Biggest Loser season 8 contestant Abby — who is looking fab, by the way — who led Jillian to the school gymnasium, where the trainer attempted to inspire the children. ”See all of you?” she told them, crab-walking across the floor. ”You all spend hours in front of an electronic device. You are all going to DIE! All of you! You know what I see looking at you? DEAD CHILDREN.” Okay, she wasn’t that harsh, but she did let them know that their chances of being obese were high if they didn’t get enough exercise and eat healthy. And as much as I give Jillian grief for being, well, Jillian, I have to say I found the following scene rather moving. The trainer plucked an overweight girl from the audience after she cried in front of her entire school about her weight, and talked to her about how she could change her life. I think we’ve found a new contestant for Biggest Loser season 10, don’t you think?

NEXT: Dry your tears, contestants!

Last-chance workout time! The yellow team was absent for the occasion — since they had to attend O’Neal’s brother’s funeral — but Bob and Jillian worked the remaining contestants hard. And I mean hard. They all ran at top speed, lifted gargantuan weights, and essentially broke their bodies. Even Daris — ever the team player — couldn’t execute what Jillian was demanding of him because of soreness. And Mike nearly fell off the treadmill during a particularly arduous run, which led Bob to suddenly turn all Swimfan and tell Mike, ”I am never going to leave you alone.” EVERYBODY WAS FREAKING OUT, according to Bob.

And workout done. Weigh-in, on! The group gathered in front of the American Airlines Center, where they watched video of their old selves on the monitors. Then, Ali told everyone it was 34 degrees, so they would get this weigh-in over with quickly, which really meant they would take five hours to complete the process, rather than the 5,648 hours they usually spend. Yay!

Here are the results:

Koli: -1 pound. Percentage weight loss: 0.38 (Immune)

Sam: -6 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.44

Sunshine: -4 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.09

O’Neal: -5 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.85

Mike: -15 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 4.19

Daris: -5 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.28

Ashley: -6 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.36

As soon as we saw the results, we knew we were in for a sob-fest of Old Yeller proportions. That’s right: The Sunshine and O’Neal Show would finally be canceled. (Heroes, your move.) And they both cried. And cried. And cried. No surprise, O’Neal asked to be sent home. (A bit of a surprise? Sunshine not even pretending to want her dad to stay instead of her.) Then, during the elimination ceremony, when we found out the cast had abided by O’Neal’s wishes, the yellow team began crying again, as if the remaining contestants were actually a death panel. Dude, Sunshine, O’Neal: EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY.

That’s something that O’Neal quickly learned upon returning home to Minneapolis. The guy got a warm reception, brightening his mood, and encouraging him to eventually lose 139 pounds. (O’Neal is at 250 pounds now — and looking good!)

So now, I turn things to you, fellow Biggest Loser fans. Are you sad to see O’Neal go? Are you, like me, starting to realize that you don’t actually have a problem with O’Neal, but with Sunshine instead? Though it wasn’t mentioned, isn’t it pretty obvious that Koli played the game this week, considering he only lost one pound during a week in which he was immune? Who else laughed when Mike said, ”I have a whole adult woman left to lose, but I’m going to do it!” And did anyone else fear the cast was headed to Texas in some sort of ploy to get Melissa back into the fold?

Episode Recaps

Contestants battle the bulge and each other in the competitive weight-loss series
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 10
Rating
  • TV-PG
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  • Pending
Performers
  • Bob Harper
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