Jillian Michaels and Therapeutic Sit-Ups

What Women Really Think
June 2 2010 1:10 PM

Jillian Michaels and Therapeutic Sit-Ups

/blogs/xx_factor/2010/06/02/jillian_michaels_travels_across_america_browbeating_obese_families_into_shape/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Here’s the unsurprising plot of NBC’s new show Losing It With Jillian Michaels : Michaels travels across America spending a week with unhealthy families, living in their homes and messianically whipping them into shape. It’s The Biggest Loser , minus the reality-show survival-game aspect.

Advertisement

Except Michaels' persona is built around untenable amounts of drama, so survival is still the star of the show. Scary statistics about obesity in America roll across the screen during the opening credits! OMG THESE PEOPLE DON’T EVEN HAVE VEGETABLES IN THEIR REFRIGERATOR! Within minutes of the start of the premiere episode last night, Michaels is already riding Jim, the huge-or, in Michael’s terms, "made up of more than half fat" dad of the family, across the gym, while she screams, nostrils-flared: "You have one last chance. You are going to be six feet under! You are half DEAD!" while the rest of the family watches from the sidelines, trembling with fear. By the end of the first workout, the Wilmington, Del. family must have collectively shed at least 10 lbs. Of water weight. From crying.

And it gets more dramatic-turns out that Agnes and Jim, the loving but obese parents, lost a son only a month after birth, years ago, but they haven’t been able to talk about it since. It’s heart-wrenching to witness them struggling to keep their emotions under control in front of the camera. At this point, I was crying. But Michaels has a way of making the real issues the family is dealing with seem cheap and manipulative. Case in point: The daughter Michelle, who has a severe case of body dysmorphia, breaks down just weeks before her wedding. This is what Michaels says in response to her emotional wreckage, in all seriousness: "I’m going to give her one last workout to try to reach her." Then she makes her do sit-ups. THERAPEUTIC SIT-UPS.

Of course, the cameras return to the family six weeks later at Michelle’s wedding to find them remarkably thinner and eternally grateful, making for a nice n’ tidy happy ending. Jim in particular looks remarkable. He’s lost 40 lbs and is walking with a swagger like never before. Jillian Michaels has a front-row seat (the show paid for the wedding, after all). She toasts to their health, and then it’s on to the next family. Get ready for meticulously manipulated waterworks on Tuesday nights.

Photograph of Jillian Michaels by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.