When Transformation Reality TV Fails, the Untelevised Costs Are Huge
Transformation reality TV, The Biggest Loser
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When Transformation Reality TV Fails, the Untelevised Costs Are Huge

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We’re always wowed by how much weight everyday people lose onThe Biggest Loser, but what we don’t see on TV is how many of them gain it back again. Now, however, their relapses are scientifically proven to be a problem of physiology, not willpower.

And The Biggest Loser is just one of many reality shows whose results aren’t always as successful as you see on TV.

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In a new study, the results of which were published in The New York Times, researchers found Biggest Loser contestants emerge from the show with slower resting metabolisms, as well as lower levels of leptin, a hormone that controls hunger.

In fact, 13 of the 14 Season 8 contestants studied had gained weight since their time on TV. Four of them actually weigh more now than they did at the start of the competition.

Season 8 winner Danny Cahill went from 430 pounds to 191 on the show, but he has since regained over 100 pounds.

“People look at overweight people and think they’re lazy or they’re eating too much. This study proves that’s not the case.”

“People look at overweight people and think they’re lazy or they’re eating too much. This study proves that’s not the case,” he tells Us Weekly. "I could be diligent and eating normal, but still gaining weight. I think it really puts a new perspective on things.”

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But the after-effects of TV transformations have haunted reality TV for years. One of the worst makeover shows, The Swan, seemingly promoted the message that a little plastic surgery solves all of a woman’s problems.

And Lorrie Arias got more cosmetic procedures than anyone else on the show. At the advice of the show’s producers and doctors, she got a tummy tuck, a buttock lift, an inner thigh lift, a dual facelift, an upper lip lift, upper and lower eye lifts, an endoscopic brow lift, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, and a breast lift.

In 2014, ten years after her time on The Swan, Lorrie told The Huffington Post she was living with depression, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, and body dysmorphia.

“I’ve had self-esteem issues all my life. But before, I was functional. Then I go and have all this stuff done that people would give their leg for, and I’m confined inside.”

“I’ve had self-esteem issues all my life,” she said. “But before, I was functional. Then I go and have all this stuff done that people would give their leg for, and I’m confined inside.”

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Unsuccessful TV transformations aren’t just limited to makeovers, though — house renovations often end up botched, as well. A North Carolina couple is suing the production company behind HGTV’s Love It or List It, saying they’re victims of “shoddy work and unfair trade practices.”

Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan say the show left their floors and windows damaged, but they also claim the production company gave only $85,000 of the couple’s $140,000 budget to the contractor, as Today reports.

Meanwhile, John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino, the co-hosts of HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins, filed for bankruptcy in August — after losing a lawsuit over a unsatisfactory renovation of a New Jersey kitchen. The complaints included incomplete plumbing hookups and gaping sheetrock, as NorthJersey.com reports.

And in 2005, April Lunsten told NPR about her unhappily-ever-after — after an undisclosed renovation show redid her master bedroom.

“When I walked in, you know, they had candles lit and it was lit beautifully, and I thought, ‘This room is gorgeous,’” she said. “And then once they left, it was like, you know, everything fell apart.”

“When I walked in, you know, they had candles lit and it was lit beautifully, and I thought, ‘This room is gorgeous.’ And then once they left, it was like, you know, everything fell apart.”

April says she noticed paint streaks and loose moldings, and her new bedspread came apart on the first night.

These stories are not isolated — the history of reality TV is rife with questionable transformations, everything from the controversial methods of the Dog Whisperer to the tragic slew of Celebrity Rehab deaths.

So when you next watch an on-screen transformation, bear in mind how the “reality” shown on TV tends to be whatever is most telegenic.