'The Biggest Loser' premiere react: Changing lives, business as usual

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Image Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

The Biggest Loser has returned for a 15th season and it looks to be a good one. I cried six times and mentally vowed to work out tomorrow morning at least four, so all is right in Biggest Loser land (sponsored by Subway). You know what you sign up for when you turn on this show: tears, transformations, screaming, sweat and probably a vomit montage. Tonight’s premiere certainly delivered all of those in spades.

This season’s theme is “second chance at life.” You will know this to be true because they say it in the opening, and then over and over again until it seems like they’re just trolling us to play a drinking game (perhaps with wheatgrass shots?). But really, it’s the season of trainer power. The trainers get to be a part of the casting process this year, hand-selecting all 15 contestants, and each gets a “Trainer Save.” I am all about that. Bob, Jillian and Dolvett develop such intimate relationships with their trainees, it’s only fair that they choose people they know they can bring out the best in. And by now they’re practically casting agents anyway. They could change lives with their eyes closed.

The trainers choose their top 15 and send them to the weight room for a workout before choosing their teams of five. The contestants who could potentially be running a marathon in 15 weeks can be broken down into a few categories.

The athletes:
- Holley (Team Bob) is a straight-up current Olympic weightlifter. At 350 pounds, she proves you can be overweight and athletic, but she came to The Biggest Loser to give herself the chance to be even better at her sport and some new opportunities in life. I also remember her being on MTV’s True Life: I’m the Big Girl and being super nice. I can’t wait for her to become BFFs with Bob.
Rachel (Team Dolvett) was once a promising competitive swimmer and gave up all of her scholarships to follow a boy to Germany. Ugh, she knows it was silly too. Dolvett says she’s the athlete to watch.
Jay (Team Jill) is a former rodeo athlete and he wears a cowboy hat to prove it.
Hap (Team Bob) was once being considered by major league baseball teams but, like Rachel, gave it all up. (I think I only got this from the contestant bios on the website and not the actual show, but it just continues the theme of seriously athletic contestants — and second chances, I guess — this season)
Chelsea (Team Bob) isn’t a professional like the rest, but she owned running the mile on her first workout with Bob. We might have another Tara Costa on our hands.

The tear-jerkers:

David (Dolvett) — oh, David! — brought my first tears of the night. After six months of marriage, his wife developed cancer and lost the battle 10 years later, leaving him with two daughters. He came to The Biggest Loser to keep the promise he made to his late wife to stay alive long enough to take care of their two girls. Excuse me, I’ll just be here quietly weeping (note: it will not be quietly).
Craig is Jillian’s typical “total sweetheart” pick. It’s completely heartbreaking listening to him try not to break down while he talks about wanting to get healthy to be around for his kids the way his father wasn’t able to be for him. Sniff.
Tanya (Dolvett) is all smiles and hitting on Dolvett until she takes out a picture of her baby girl and tells the camera that because she gained 125 pounds during her pregnancy, she caused her daughter to be born overweight and she will deal with that the rest of her life. “I’m here to save myself and to save my daughter.” No, no, don’t mind me, it’s just something in my eye.
– We don’t really get to see much from Matt (Bob) except that he gives a really sweet thank you to his teammates after his weigh-in and I was already in a very vulnerable place and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Ruben Studdard: Why yes, that is Ruben Studdard (Dolvett), of Clay Aiken, I mean American Idol, fame. America’s favorite teddy bear is The Biggest Loser’s first celebrity contestant and he didn’t come for the Hollywood treatment. He wants to be “the best singer in the world” and he knows he can’t do that without getting healthier and tacking some more years onto his life. Shoot big, dawg.

As always, this episode can’t feature everyone, so we’ll give the rest some easy to remember superlatives:
Best workout vomit: Marie (Jill)
Best Ginger: Matt (Bob)
Best Hair: tie, Tumi and Fernanda (both Jill)
Best Name: tie, Tumi and Fernanda
And also: Jennifer (Dolvett)…she seems very lovely and I’m sure she will do something distinguishing sometime soon.

This premiere wastes no time getting to the weigh-in, as there are a lot of contestants to get to. The always luminous Alison Sweeney tells us there will be no yellow line, only a definitive red line for the losing team. Dolvett’s team has the Biggest Loser male and female (and highest percentage weight loss), with Rachel losing 21 pounds and David losing 38 pounds. I’m sorry, WHAT??? That has to be a record. That’s like chopping off your leg.

But sweet, sweet Craig has lost the least percentage of weight on the losing team and will have to be sent — hold the phone **Trainer Save Alert** Craig is staying! Jillian isn’t ready to see him go. I guess it really is a season of second chances.

What do you think, readers? Is The Biggest Loser still as exciting as it once was or are you just in it for the Finale transformations (because who isn’t in it for that)?

The Biggest Loser airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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