TV… Supersize vs Superskinny (2008-14)


WARNING! British Diet TV Series can damage your wealth…


Supersizers and superskinnies swap unhealthy diets.


Supersize vs superskinny (2014), Channel 4 and photographs © Channel 4


Once upon a time. British television went through a wee phase of diet programmes. In these programmes, nice, kind and helpful patronising doctors and diet gurus helped the mass unwashed of the British Isles see the error of their dieting ways by painfully reminding them how much they eat in horrific, gratuitous, food wasting ways.

Two of these programmes are currently being shown over here so Finns can be shocked at British diets at their worst and/or marvel in the sheer variety of fattening foods available in the UK.  The expats meanwhile sob as they remember culinary delights such as Pop Tarts, cream buns and battered fish and chips…

One example is Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat as previously seen on Britain’s Channel 4. In this programme, McKeith reminds a poor defenceless, larger member of the public how much they ate in a week on a giant table crammed with all the goodies you dreamt about as a kid.

As well as wasting enough food to help a homeless person for a few days, the poor subject was humiliated further as their poo is then examined and discussed by McKeith, Jilly Goolden style in relation to its colour, odour and texture as if it was a fine wine not a human waste product.

For the benefit of those of you who don’t remember Goolden she was a much parodied British TV presenter from the 1980s who presented the TV programme imaginatively titled Food and Drink. She was famous for using more adjectives than your average Scrabble Game to describe a wine and made gittering an art form.

Another programme which my darlin’ husband and I watched before we moved here and also gracing Finnish TV is Supersize vs Superskinny. The main presenter is Dr Christian Jessen or as he is affectionately known in our household Dr Julian after his twin separated from birth. Julian Sands.  Sands, movie fans will know was the fop haired romantic male lead of many a 1980s movie.

These including such gems as A Room with a View, the creepy guy in Boxing Helena (not a movie tie in referring to his co-star of A Room with a View, Helena Bonham Carter), the terribly English rival for Amanda Pays’s affection in Brat Pack film Oxford Blues (1984) against the then teenage girl’s pin-up, Rob Lowe and The Warlock as the warlock. Sands has worked steadily since the 1980s but these are the only roles I remember him from.

In this programme Sands Jessen pairs off an overweight person with a underweight person in his “clinic” where they are subjected to wearing beige underwear and stand in two lines of shame of overweights and underweights facing each other like an episode of Deadliest Warrior.  You can almost hear the Deadliest warrior dude – who my darlin’ husband has just informed me was the narrator for the Gerard Butler film “300” doing his Deadliest Warrior introduction to each side.

At the pairing off, both victims face each other then the pair head off together to be monitored  ie filmed and to swap  their diet for 5 days. This leads to lots of wistful looks from each contestant. It also consists of the underweight person getting the recycled contents of Gillian McKeith’s table of shame and the overweight person getting a fun sized chocolate bar.  Then they discuss their story and bond over photos of them as a kid in some kind of photo therapy.

Soon after, the overweight person is shipped off to America where they meet someone even bigger than they are. It is at this point my darlin’ husband objects because the overweight person gets a free holiday in the United States while the underweight person stays at home.  He doesn’t get his free holiday with his fellow skinnies. Probably as Bob Geldof and the Board of Ethics would understandably object.

In America – the current series we are watching is set in Las Vegas – the larger builded one visits an even more overweight person. After he painfully bonds with his story they then are compensated with meal in the local greasy diner. This usually over the most fattening thing on the menu.

Instead, skinnies have to listen to the “everything you wanted to know about anorexia but were afraid to ask” monologue presenter. And as she tells you really patronising facts about anorexia such as men can get anorexia too. No shit, Sherlock.

In the first series the recycled food for each contestant was hurled into their very own tube of shame just to make the point (said with more than a hint of sarcasm) that overweight people eat more.

Jenssen, wearing one of his famous cheesecloth shirts then sits then down, adopts his stock earnest face and tilts his head to the side and mansplains to them what medical conditions effect their current body size with slides and statistics.  Once the five days are up the victims then go home to adopt a normal diet.

X months later ie when they have lost or gained sufficient weight to reunite then for the wee screen, Jenssen brings them back to the clinic and reunites them in soft focus. Then he weighs them and tells them their progress. Usually they have made progress, so the viewers are then subjected to their soft focus victory dance for losing or gaining the weight while the credits roll.

At which point all expats sob and frantically look up t’internet for British savouries and cakes. But we expats in Finland leap with joy and withdraw our life savings. This as we remember that a certain British brand of coffee and biscuits have recently arrived in Finland.

Weeper Rating: 😦 😦   /10

Handsqueeze Rating: : 0/10

Hulk Rating: ‎mrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreen /10


Food in Film Banners

Food in Film Blogathon 2017. No 58

This post was added to Silver Screenings and Speakeasy’s Food in Film Blogathon. Other reality series I’ve reviewed include my posts on Grand Designs, Selling Sunset and Sinkkulaiva.

21 thoughts on “TV… Supersize vs Superskinny (2008-14)

  1. That’s not much in the way of TV trash that I enjoy, but I must admit being partial to s vs s. Probably because it makes me feel better about my own diet!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to watch Supersized V Superskinny. I think a healthy diet is all about everything in moderation, but seeing the extreme sides does make you think x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I must admit I’ve never watched these as diet type programmes annoy me. They always end up making me feel bad lol. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I honestly avoid diet programs as most of them were just patronising than helpful to the contestants and the viewers

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never heard of these programs before, so this is new and interesting territory. Hopefully these shows really do help people, whether they eat too much or too little. I have to say I agree with you re: some people getting a free trip to the US while others have to stay put and listen to lectures. That’s rather uneven.

    Thanks for joining the blogathon, Gill. It’s always a party when you’re around. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Love your thoughts... but only if they are spoiler free!

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