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Health Communication Commons

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Obesity

Western Michigan University

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Liminal Losers: Breakdowns And Breakthroughs In Reality Television's Biggest Hit, Caitlin Rickert Apr 2013

Liminal Losers: Breakdowns And Breakthroughs In Reality Television's Biggest Hit, Caitlin Rickert

Master's Theses

This study explores how The Biggest Loser, a popular television reality program that features a weight-loss competition, reflects and magnifies established stereotypes about obese individuals. The show, which encourages contestants to lose weight at a rapid pace, constructs a broken/fixed dichotomy that oversimplifies the complex issues of obesity and health.

My research is a semiotic analysis of the eleventh season of the program (2011), focusing on three pairs of contestants (or “couples” teams) that each represent a different level of commitment to the program’s values. Specifically, I focus on dramatic “breakdown” moments in which these contestants are disciplined ...