Fat People + [Insert Activity] = Great Television?

Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime)
Formula: Every stereotype you’ve ever known + charming plus-size lead actress = a semi-funny show that didn’t use a skinny actress in a fat suit for a fat lead character (a breakthrough!)

"There are a lot of stereotypes that bother me [about the show], like when she becomes fat she eats a lot of doughnuts and sweats a lot, but they really are trying to do some positive things with that. It’s not perfect, but it’s a positive representation of a fat woman on TV, a fat actress in a lead role. And, to deal with these real situations, too (the second episode was about a weight-discrimination legal case). There is a possibility of raising awareness that way." –Kate Harding, founder of Shapely Prose

"I did like Drop Dead Diva. I thought it was cute and it was good to see a plus-size woman with brains and personality." Yolanda, NeverSayDiet reader

NSD Approval Rating: B+
Ruby (Style Network)
Formula: A 716-pound woman’s desire to get her health back + endless number of health resources minus weight loss surgery = satisfying America’s hunger for extreme stories and an intimate look at others’ not-so-perfect lives to validate their own lives

Expert Opinion:
"My show is fighting for people who are struggling with food addiction. If you’re going on a competition you really need to understand the addiction and the root of the problem first. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to leave our surroundings and have a chef cook for us 24/7 and exercise eight hours a day.” –Ruby Gettinger, star of Style Network’s Ruby

"We define our worth according to our weight all too often. And, it’s really sad to watch that play out on television." –Marianne Kirby, The Rotund blogger

NSD Approval rating: B
The 650-Pound Virgin (TLC)
Formula: A svelte physical trainer who has lost 410 pounds + memories of his difficult past of sexual abuse and suicide = typical TLC documentary that has nothing to do with being a virgin—it just sounded good in the title

Expert Opinion:
"TLC may as well be the fat and little people channel, making fat people a spectacle for the entertainment of others. I think it’s incredibly exploitative. It plays right into that carnival freak show thing. As a society, we have no idea what these weights look like. So you throw a number like 650 pounds out there, and even if it’s accurate, it’s used in a sensational sort of way." –Marianne, The Rotund blogger

NSD Approval Rating: F
I Want to Save Your Life (WE Network)

Formula: A (cheesy) “Diet Detective” + guerilla health interventions on random fat people on the street = lots of crying (unsure of whether they’re upset about themselves or a stranger telling them they’re going to die) and emotion-invoking music

Expert Opinion:
"In reality shows, I would like to see people stop conflating fitness and fatness. I would like to see people stop thinking that the health of any one individual is anybody else’s damn business because it’s not." –Marianne, The Rotund blogger

NSD Approval Rating: D-

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