Tangerina wrote in wanting to talk about my favorite television show, The Office, and their season premiere, called “Weight Loss.” I thought it was an awesome idea, and got permission to reprint her e-mail here.
Hi Mo! Love the blog. I was just writing because you asked for ideas, and I know this is a tad bit frivolous but I’ve been waiting for someone around the fatosphere to talk about it, or even make an open thread for people to weigh in (hehe,) but I was totally fascinated by the season premiere of The Office. The episode was called Weight Loss and the whole office embarks on one of those biggest loser type programs and of course fails spectacularily.
Thing is, I’m pretty sure it was written by people who are very aware that diets don’t actually work. They show a lot of extreme diet behaviors that have been glamorized (Master Cleanse) but make sure to show just how silly and harmful they are (Kelly faints and has to go to the ER.) They show some of the behavioral side effects of dieting, such as secret eating and the Last Supper effect. They show how silly it is that everyone thinks weight loss is always a magic cure no matter what (Michael asks Angela to lose 5 pounds and she says her doctor told her to gain weight and he counters “do you want to die!?!”)
There is one part where Dwight tricks Phyllis into going for a drive with him and then he takes her purse and makes her walk back to the office through the bad part of town to try to get her to exercise, and it is a funny scene but you are very clearly meant to be laughing at what an asshole Dwight is and not at Phyllis. When she calls the company to complain about his behavior they back her up 100%. The only character who actually loses weight is Stanley, who doesn’t do anything extreme and does it for his own reasons and loses a very small amount. I guess some would say that any weight loss isn’t fat accepting, but the Stanley story line is really subtle and no one even notices his weight loss or congratulates him on it and no big deal is made of it- it isn’t portrayed as some great victory, just something he is personally happy about, which I think is a really appropriate attitude about weightloss.
Anyway, other people might disagree and not think the episode was very accepting and anti diet, but as far as I’m concerned it is one of the most accepting things I’ve seen on TV like… ever. Any negativity towards fat and eating and bodies is meant to be seen as silly and mean, something The Office has gotten really good at as they’ve addressed racism, sexism, etc.
In case you haven’t seen the episode, you can go see it at Hulu.com or below. For those of you who did see it, what did you think?
Posted by mo pie