Welcome back to "Cable Showdown," where we pit two similarly themed cable shows against each other in an epic
blog post cage match to settle once and for all which show rules its niche roost. For today's match-up, in the blue corner we have MTV's show about fat teens, I Used to Be Fat! And in the red corner, we have A&E's show about fat adults, Heavy! Let's list the pros and cons of each and settle ourselves a winner, shall we?
I Used to Be Fat features overweight-to-obese teens who want get into wet T-shirt contest/keg-stand power hour shape before college. In typical A&E style, the people on Heavy are morbidly obese and trying get in shape for some impossibly dire reasons, like because it was their dead son's dying wish, or to get their estranged family members to speak to them again.
Winner: I Used to Be Fat. Losing weight so you can forget high school ever happened might be slightly more frivolous than memorializing your late son, but it's certainly a lot less depressing to watch.
Heavy features a six-month program that begins at a Biggest Loser-style ranch and ends at home, with the support of trainers, doctors, therapists, nutritionists and a weight-loss buddy every step of the way. I Used to Be Fat is a much shorter program at three months, and comes only with a lone trainer to Dr. Philianize the teens and their families as needed.
Winner: Heavy. As much as we love armchair psychology, Heavy's treatment is undeniably more legit.
The teens on I Used to Be Fat are mostly there because of their atrocious parents. Some have been horribly neglected (Jordan), some have been taught to base their self-esteem on whether or not they qualify as sex objects (Makenzie) and some have been put under way too much pressure at a young age (Daria) -- it's pretty heartbreaking to watch. The people on Heavy are essentially those people, just grown up, who in most cases have extended the cycle of abuse to their own loved ones.
Winner: I Used to Be Fat. Those poor kids! (Until they grow up, of course. Then they're just old assholes.)
I Used to Be Fat has a new trainer every week, so the quality of each one varies, as you'd expect. Heavy has Britney, a blonde and perky trainer who just may be the most fit person we've ever seen, and Glen, the tough love trainer with 93-inch biceps and a heart of gold.
Winner: Heavy. We hate new people!
The kids on I Used to Be Fat are much younger than Heavy's participants, and most of them have less weight to lose in the first place, so their results are usually a lot more dramatic. For example, that Jordan kid went from Cartman-sized lump to hot basketball star at the end of his program, while Heavy's contestants generally get downgraded from "at death's door" to "nearing at death's door" by the end of theirs.
Winner: Heavy. Anybody can be hot at 18; bring a rotund 40-year-old back from the brink of death and you've actually shown me something.
Both shows feature a shopping trip to buy vegetables and whole foods, and focus on exercising and throwing processed crap in the garbage no matter how much it cost. Just like on every other weight-loss show ever made, sure, but Heavy throws in the concerned looks of actual doctors and mental health experts, too.
Winner: Heavy. Someone in a lab coat telling you that weighing 400 pounds is a bad idea just means more than someone in head-to-toe Lululemon doing it.
I Used to Be Fat gets serious at times, but its stakes are mostly pretty low, comparatively, and the show seems to make a point of keeping the histrionics to a minimum. Heavy is like a Greek tragedy every damn week, but it kills in the reality drama department like only the network of Intervention can.
Winner: I Used to Be Fat. While Heavy is engrossing, "entertaining" isn't quite the word we'd attribute to it.
Overall Winner: Heavy
While I Used to Be Fat is the most fun fluff since Made went off the air, Heavy is the real deal. Plus, we like to feel emotionally exhausted after we watch a weight-loss show -- it's a great excuse to skip the gym.
Your favorite of the two? Discuss in the comments, then check out the first installment of this series: Pawn Stars vs. Hardcore Pawn!
In these tough times, is there anything better than watching unfortunate people struggle with their weight? Our vloggers Beth & Val discuss in this video:
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