Last Monday, I stayed up late to watch “Dance Your Ass Off,” a new reality series on Oxygen. I’ve said many times (and I stand by it), I loathe even the concept of what has been called “reality TV.” I find it generally exploitive, humiliating, demeaning, mean, stupid and guilty of lowering the American consciousness to sub-basement levels. People are embarrassed, made fun of, attacked, and dismissed with a cavalier attitude of so-called judges or peered out. These shows make it to air, because they’re cheap to produce and because there seems to be no end to the appetite of some of the American public to lick their lips when others are behaving badly or grossly, or when people are being “thrown to the lions.”
When I heard there was a new TV show in which overweight people would compete in dancing, I thought this would be seriously sickening. What a scenario for making fun of people! “Dance Your Ass Off ” has some of the elements of the typically disgusting reality format: judges who have “not too judicious” comments, and someone who gets thrown out after some weeks. But there is much more to this show in particular (in spite of the spicy title).
The scores are not only for their dancing (they’re trained and choreographed by a professional dancer), but for how much weight they lose. They all have access to a nutritionist who guides them in cooking and food choices and portion sizes. So at the end of the Olympics-like scoring from 1 to 10 for the quality of their dancing that week, the percentage of weight lost that week is added to their individual score. Therefore, a person could have been graded poorly for their dance program, but if they lost 5% of their body weight, they potentially could win the whole night!
I like that this is just not a typical exploitation of people small or too big. It’s a real challenge for these people to get fit, lose weight, practice dancing, and perform. The most significant part of the entire program that I appreciated was that there was no competition between these folks. They all support each other in losing weight and doing their best. There are no mean manipulations in order to throw somebody off the island or forced fights just for entertainment’s sake. These people work hard, and become quite committed to being fit.
It’s funny. I thought this would be an utterly disgusting display, and it turns out it’s one which is quite benevolent and fun to watch. Seeing these folks working very hard in spite of their extra weight and lack of fitness is admirable and not something to giggle about. Most of the time, the contestants behave quite respectfully when the judges are not that complimentary (and I think the judges are often out of order making demands of non-dancers who are overweight). Nonetheless, overall, this show is quite supportive of the right behaviors.