UPDATE ALERT: See my newest thoughts on the show here.
Reality television, especially the kind found on TLC, was my guilty pleasure of 2014. It may very well end-up being my guilty pleasure of 2015 if the start of this new year is any indication with shows such as "My Big Fat Fabulous Life" now getting my viewership.
"BFFL", as I will call it from now on because it is easier to type and if you say it out loud it sounds fun (kind of like, "Biffel"), is a show about a woman named Whitney Thore (check her website out here), along with her parents and friends. Whitney gained some attention when a video she posted of herself dancing went viral about a year ago, and she is currently working at making more videos, finding a man to fall in love with, and the like.
|Whitney and her friend practicing a new dance routine.|
Whitney is okay with the fact she is large, but does want to lose weight for health reasons, and it is at this point we arrive to a plot element that makes Whitney a bit different from the usual large person. You see, Whitney has polycystic ovary syndrome, an endocrine disorder which can increase the testosterone in her body and causes many women with it to gain immense weight. This resulted in Whitney gaining hundreds of pounds during college and being unsure what the problem was until recently, where we now see her okay with her body but still wanting to lose weight and be healthier.
A part of me just feels like TLC should own the message of, "Bigger is better," or "Losing weight is good," instead of trying to have it both ways, but that has nothing to do with Whitney or her journeys through life as much as it has to do with TLC. Putting aside the question of TLC's motivations with the show it is worth discussing how it is.
|Whitney's parents are quite fun.|
We see other folks pop-up on the show too, from her dancing-partner to a male friend who may grow into more than a friend if previews of what this season holds are any indication. It is basically just your regular reality show following someone going about their life, with one of the "hooks" being how Whitney is a larger woman, and the other "hook" arguably being how she is quite the skilled dancer and working to possibly make a career out of it. It would be somewhat unremarkable were it not for two elements...
One thing is that Whitney is in fact a really, really good dancer regardless of her weight, and her routines are quite impressive to watch. The second element is that Whitney really is quite fun and easy-to-like, something it seems too many reality shows lack with us hating the main characters (I don't know about you, but anytime I see a Kardashian on my television screen I want to vomit in rage and agony).
Having only viewed one episode of "BFFL" so far, and keeping in mind my post about how you should never too quickly judge a show based on its pilot or early episodes, I am cautiously optimistic that this might be a program I enjoy watching. Putting aside any questions of what TLC is trying to say with the show or get out of it publicity-wise, "BFFL" is good fun, thanks to the fact that Whitney is such an enjoyable person. Were Whitney less of a delight this show would easily be a clunker, but she makes it incredibly fun even during the more dull moments. With that in mind, I can say that terms of sheer enjoyment the first episode is easily...
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Now it just remains to be seen if future installments of the show can continue the trend, with the second episode airing tonight on TLC at 10PM Eastern, 9PM Central.