Oct. 10, 2011 at 11:02 PM ET
For only the second time in the 12-season history of NBC’s hit weight-loss competition, star trainer Jillian Michaels is missing from the “Biggest Loser” lineup. And unlike her absence in season three, there’s no reason to expect that she’ll be back this time.
Last year Michaels announced she was leaving “Loser” and longtime TV training partner Bob Harper behind in order to pursue new opportunities and start a family. That decision led Michaels to her latest TV gigs, a regular spot on “The Doctors” and a guest correspondent role on “Dr. Phil.” It also left “Loser” without its resident take-no-nonsense tough talker and personal-problem-delving pseudo counselor.
So, how’s the reality TV offering faring without her?
As a testament to Michaels’ place on the show, it’s taken two trainers to fill her gym shoes — or, more accurately, two sets of two trainers. Last season, while Michaels was still onboard for a bit longer, Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronouva tried to mix things up, but they didn’t exactly work out. At least the same can’t be said of the latest two trainers to come around.
Now that former tennis pro and doubles champ Anna Kournikova and celebrity trainer (and, of course, my reality TV boyfriend) Dolvett Quince have joined the battle of the bulge, viewers aren’t missing much without Michaels.
Quince picks up where Michaels left off when it comes to encouraging contestants to delve into their deep-seated problems and discover how those past woes helped them to pack on the pounds. He also has no trouble employing his own manner of tough talk in the gym.
As for Kournikova, while she’s yet to prove herself to be as much as an ace trainer as Michaels (or Harper or Quince), she brings a new dynamic with her softer side and at times, downright teary interactions.
But it’s not just down to the newbies to fill in the gap. “Loser” vet Harper seems to have stepped up his own knack for getting loud and getting real. In fact, if competitors hoped they’d have it easy with Micheals away, Harper’s “I will break your other leg if you don’t go harder than that” approach (really) has already showed them how wrong they can be.
Still, there's one change that those contestants, not to mention the sensitive-stomached fans at home (like yours truly), can feel some relief about. A Michaels-free “Loser” means no more barf cam.
For all of her pluses, Michaels had one big minus — her love of the grossest part of a grueling workout: vomit. In the old days, it seemed she was rarely happy with her team until she pushed them to the point of puking — on camera. In the three episodes that have aired since her departure, there’s been nary a single shot of the offensive acts.
Kudos to the new gang for that. It's just another way that, so far, "Loser" is winning without Michaels.
What do you think? Is the show still as entertaining as it was when Michaels was around? Have the new trainers made their own mark? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.