A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality show deals almost exclusively with weight loss and the effects of being overweight. Through the magic of television, contestants seem to magically "melt," dropping upwards of 30 pounds in just eight episodes -- even though the actual weight-loss period spans 100 days. But while the series makes a concerted effort to emphasize healthy weight loss over fast results -- setting sensible weight-loss goals customized to each contestant -- the message could easily be misinterpreted by impressionable teens who might try to slim down on their own at a faster rate without a doctor's supervision. What's more, the show could also make overweight kids and teens feel worse about their bodies.
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- Kids say
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What's the story?
VH1's CELEBRITY FIT CLUB is a reality competition series that rounds up overweight, C-list stars past their prime, splits them into two teams, and challenges them to replace their fatness with fitness. The celebrity who loses the most weight at the end of the 100-day challenge wins a prize package and bragging rights as Celebrity Fit Club champion. But the losing contestants tend to walk away with something too: slimmer bodies and the tools to continue losing weight on their own. Some of the familiar faces who've subjected themselves to trainer Harvey Walden's drill sergeant-like care include Tina Yothers (Family Ties), Ted Lange (The Love Boat), Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos), and Carnie Wilson (Wilson Phillips) -- who lost 160 pounds after her gastric bypass surgery but went back to battling the bulge in the wake of her daughter's birth.
Is it any good?
While some people might view Celebrity Fit Club as a genuine opportunity to cheer on celebrities as they struggle to eat right and exercise, the show's producers seem to assume that most people just want a peek at the side show. Celebrity Fit Club exploits the fact that these one-time A-listers are now desperately out of shape with unforgiving camera angles, humiliating challenges that require bathing suits, and overly dramatic weekly weigh-ins. The full-body, 360-degree views of each contestant that broadcast their height, starting weight, and weight-loss progress are particularly painful to watch.
They say the camera adds 10 pounds, but this is ridiculous. In essence, Celebrity Fit Club is the kind of show that makes it easy to gloat about your own physique, mostly because you're too busy gaping at bodies that have fallen from grace. And is that really the kind of judgmental behavior you want to pass on to your kids? The show isn't straight-out bad, but for family viewing, it's probably not the best choice.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the realities of a world in which thin bodies are prized, fat ones are scorned, and deliciously unhealthy food is more widely available than ever before. Why is thin so in -- and how do the sculpted celebrity images we see in the media affect our perceptions of our own bodies? Why are chubby children teased -- and why do heavy people so often become the butt of jokes in television and movies? Why do Americans as a whole tend to eat to excess -- are we really that hungry, or are we eating for other reasons? Are all diets truly healthy? And is there such a thing as being too thin?
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