So I watch The Biggest Loser. Admittedly, I watch The Biggest Loser while usually having a double slice combo pizza and a couple of candy bars, usually with a diet coke so I don’t feel as guilty. The past couple of seasons have been relatively repetitive: fat people cry, fat people vomit while crying, skinny trainers yell at them for good television, skinny shadows of fat people flex on-air, only for them to gain half the weight back after their show is off the air.
This season gives us Ada Wong, a Chinese American from the Bay Area who has given us some of the most awkward moments of reality television watching if you’re an Asian American. Not because Ada started the show as an obese Asian girl and has lost large amounts of weight, but because she did something even more culturally taboo: reveal her family problems on national television.
Chinese people, you see, believe in “public face,” the belief that issues that are embarrassing or uncomfortable should explicit be kept private and shameful. (I should know: when my parents learned I had a popular personal weblog that detailed my family situation, I was ostracized from my immediate family for a year.) Ada has admitted on national television that her parents blame her for the accidental drowning of her brother; whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t matter. Their private issues has been made public, they’ve lost face, and the repercussions were immediately felt, refusing to come to the ranch — the only family to do so — and alienating their daughter even more. All of this causing her to self-sabotage her weight loss in a recent episode, and a set of captions that say “It’s Daddy’s turn to talk. I love you very much. After you left, I thought about you all day long” by her father, surely the result of goading by the producers of the television show suggesting the whole family sit down in front of television cameras. Shame on the producers of The Biggest Loser for taking advantage of cultural differences for the sake of ratings. Or bravo, depending on who you ask.
But maybe I’m taking things overboard – what do you think? And has anyone who has been keeping up with season shifted uncomfortably in their seat when watching Ada?