So, courtesy of my recent ruminations on weight loss and the launch of the new storyline in Stress Puppy, I get a message to turn on the TV to catch the premiere of a brand new show -- Losing It With Jillian, starring the Brunhilde of exercise, Jillian Michaels. You know, the woman who says there is no magic pill to lose weight but endorses a line of diet pills.
The set-up for the show is a lot like a typical "make your life better" reality show. The show's star/host pops into the lives of someone or their family and proceeds to show them how to make themselves and their lives better. In this case, it is Michaels descending on a family and having five days to whip them into shape. Queer Eye For The Straight Guy tried a similar concept for a month of weight loss shows.
Here's one difference between the two shows -- the Fab Five are fun to be around and you enjoy hanging out with them, even if its only through your TV. Jillian Michaels makes you want to reach for the shotgun mouthwash.
The Fab Five playfully cajoled their victims into maintaining their exercise and diet routines (Carson was especially funny one time). They sought to motivate the people through simple explanation (one pound of human fat is roughly the size of a softball), positive visualization (clothes that they would eventually fit into), enjoying food without making it junk (I had never considered using applesauce in brownies until Ted showed it), and keeping track of the people for an extended period of time (the video logs showing how enthusiasm wanes and keeping interested is the real challenge).
Michaels? Who in their right mind would hire this raving lunatic as a motivator? Her technique seems to be shaming people until their resistance and spirits break. That seems familiar. What does it remind me of? Oh, yes. EST, the "therapy" that did the same thing, only it was supposedly a path to self-awareness and enlightenment.
I don't think I was getting into the spirit of the show. I sucked down a sizable helping of Oreo Double Stuff cookies while watching this bullshit.
Here's a sampling of Michael's inspirational talks:
"Don't try, Agnes! Trying is planning to fail!"
"Are you sick of it, or are you not?!?"
"You can't have health! It's not for you!"
"You don't really want this!"
"I will be your worst damn nightmare!"
"I'm not killing you! You're killing you!"
There are two reactions to Tough Love. One is the person tries harder so that they don't let someone down. But if they don't care if they let the person down, reaction two occurs: they stop trying because it's just not worth it. Maybe three, they tough it out until the noodle leaves, but then it's right back in the realm of apathy.
Real professional trainers make you feel empowered, not belittled. They know belittling gets them nowhere. And here's a woman who has made a cottage industry out of the old "blame the victim" game of, "Just don't eat so much and move around! What's so tough about that?"
I constantly rip on Paris Hilton for being self-absorbed, indulgent, insulting, and proud of her negative traits. With this show, I'm starting to think Hilton may not be that bad. She may be insulting and condescending, but at least she's not abusive. The only thing more shocking than how much Michaels piles it on is that people eagerly volunteer for such treatment.