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The Telefile
Summer's Here and the Time Is Right… For Watching More Obese People on TV

On Monday night, ABC premiered Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (or as we've been casually referring to it in these parts, The Fatover) and last night, Lifetime got in on the weight-loss action with Love Handles. Both tackle subject matter that has been beaten to death with The Biggest Loser, Heavy and Shedding for the Wedding, but in execution one sinks like a ton of donuts while the other actually sheds some light on losing weight.

Love Handles is basically just Shedding for the Wedding, but without Sara Rue and the whole competition aspect... so it's kind of terrible and forgettable. If next week's preview didn't show gay couples fighting the battle of the bulge and each other, I would have immediately deleted any record of this show's existence from my DVR.

Each episode follows two couples who have packed on the pounds during the course of their relationship, letting us watch as they learn that putting full-fat sour cream on spaghetti with extra cheese and sauce isn't a healthy diet, and that there are these things called gyms and therapy. The therapy sessions might be a necessary evil, but watching people scream about how their father or partner made them fat gets old really, really quickly. Particularly when it takes up a good ten minutes of each couple's time and we only get about 30 minutes to know these people. And with two couples per episode and the show covering the eight-week process (none of these people are really Biggest Loser obese, so two months is enough to get them down to a reasonable weight or at least on the right track), the whole thing comes across as rushed. Maybe if it there was one couple per episode or a consistent trainer, it would've worked better. As it is, it lacks any sort of addictive quality, so I'll just wait and hope for more episodes of I Used to Be Fat instead.

As for Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, it bears a lot of similarities to other shows out there, but honestly, I didn't mind it so much. I liked the twist of following just one person for a year and the whole thing unfolding over one episode. And I appreciated the fact that they addressed the issue of skin-removal surgery, because you know that the Loser contestants must do that post-show, even if they don't talk about it. I'm still confused about the logistics of filming this Extreme Makeover since trainer Chris Powell says he moves in with them for a three-month stretch. Is he capable of being in multiple places at a time? Because there are already eight episodes scheduled, and I find it hard to believe that he'd only do four episodes a year and never be in his own home. In addition to fitness training the morbidly obese, is he also able to teleport?

And while these contestants aren't so much more "extreme" than those on The Biggest Loser, I mostly watch that show for the big reveal and Jillian yelling at people, so to get to the payoff in an hour instead of two months is much appreciated. Also, Jillian's out the door at Loser, and I don't care about Anna Kournikova, so they've caught me at a vulnerable time and Chris Powell does have an approachable and informative way about him. I'd like to think that people might actually learn something from a man who has a degree in Exercise Science, though more how-to advice could be incorporated into the show, in my opinion. And, I hate to admit it, but the show did actually get me tearing up a tiny little bit during the premiere... much like Home Edition does. It is indeed heartwarming to see people opt for hard work over lap-band surgery. So I will continue sporadically watching it, since it is summer and with the oppressive heat, it'll be hard to motivate myself to change the channel after The Bachelorette is over.

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