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Parents' Guide to

Big Medicine

By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Obesity surgery can be heavy viewing.

TV TLC Reality TV 2007
Big Medicine Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

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The show gives viewers the sense that the two doctors, the more traditional father and more experimental son, are a friendly, knowledgeable team with a passion for their work. Patients include 26-year-old Alan, whose weight is unknown, but probably nears 1,000 pounds. He is confined to his bed where his monolingual Spanish-speaking mother cares for him daily, from helping him go to the bathroom, to bathing him and changing the bandages on his bedsores. Another patient is a 19-year-old young woman who, after undergoing bypass surgery, has an enormous amount of excess skin that makes her body look like it belongs to a much older woman. She gets plastic surgery to improve her skin tone and appearance.

The shots of these morbidly obese patients as they lay naked in their home or hospital beds (with key parts covered by blankets) are sometimes shocking. Watching feels like invading someone's privacy, but part of the appeal of the show is being able to see bodies one might have wondered about, but never actually seen. With such intense fat phobia in our culture, Big Medicine walks a fine line between engendering empathy, and contributing to a sense of disgust, rather than respect.

TV Details

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