PASADENA, Calif. -- "The Biggest Loser" season 13 became pretty ugly at times last year, and it wasn't from the contestants vomiting due to exercising too hard. No, it was because of the bad behavior from several players -- most notably, Conda Britt -- who viewers and even trainer Bob Harper blasted as "bullies."
But all those verbal attacks, backstabbing, eye rolling and more from the past season? Don't expect to see that this time around.
"This season, we have not had any bullying," executive producer Dave Broome told The Clicker. "This is such a different cast this year. The tone of the show for us this season, we found very likable, rootable characters. We wanted to get back to that. We know our audience loves that, and that’s what we look hard for when we’re casting our people."
Finding a more likable group of players wasn't a reaction to viewer outcry from the past season, though, said executive producer Eden Gaha. "One of the things we’ve always known is (fans) love great characters, wonderful people to whom they can relate," he said. And not having two seasons in one calendar year helped with that process. "We had more time to find those people. And given that time, I think we’ve found the best cast we’ve had in a really long time."
While there won't be any onscreen bullying, Broome said that doesn't mean the subject won't come up in season 14. Quite the opposite, as the topic will be addressed by the show's first ever group of teen participants, 13-year-olds Biingo and Lindsay, and 16-year-old Sunny.
"These kids are being bullied now," said Gaha. "They feel like for them, they have an opportunity really now to change the course of their lives from this point forward before it’s too late. I think they’re incredibly brave to put themselves out there and to stand up and be counted and to inspire other kids. These are three of the most brave kids I’ve ever seen."
"There’s several episodes where we actually talk about bullying, and they’re emotional. They’ll tear at you," said Broome. "And to hear it come out of the kids’ mouths and hear what they’ve been going through ... you can understand why they’re reaching out for help."
Also seemingly prevalent last season was quitting -- and the threat of quitting due to an "unfair" (read: well-known) twist. The season 14 premiere Sunday night featured one person who quickly threw in the towel and went home. With so many viewers who would love a shot at this sometimes life-saving opportunity, why don't producers just quickly send folks packing rather than reason with them, as they did when a group threatened to walk in 2012?
"Our job is always to try to help them understand they need to finish this process. Nobody’s trapped there. It’s not a prison. You can’t keep them there if they don’t want to stay," said Gaha. "And that was a unique circumstance whereby people felt like the rules were such that they didn’t want to be around anymore.
"Yes, they’re there for themselves but for every one contestant, there are tens of thousands of people at home saying, ‘That’s me up there.’ And so in many ways, you want to say to these contestants, ‘You owe it to yourself, yes, but you owe it to them out there because you’re their house, and that’s important.’ "
Broome knows it's upsetting for viewers to see people give up and it's tough for them to understand why anyone would give up such an opportunity.
"I think we have an obligation to ... our fans, to our audience, to say, ‘Look, we want these people to stay in,’ " said Broome. "We tell these contestants on day one, ‘This is the hardest thing. You think what you watched on television is hard, you have no idea, because now you have to put the hard work in to get this done.’ "
"It is the opportunity of a lifetime, and it’s something I think these contestants don’t necessarily want to squander," said Gaha.
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