Pound For Pound, TLC Is A Heavyweight In Unscripted TV

When it comes to unscripted series about the morbidly obese, TLC is on a yo-yo diet.

The attention TLC pays to this particular category of reality TV has tended to wax and wane over the years. 

But recently, the Discovery-owned basic cable network has been gaining far more weight than it has been losing.

In fact, where the titles of some of its obesity reality shows are concerned, the weights on display have shot up from 600 pounds to 1,000.

The latest of the latter is “1000-lb Best Friends” (pictured above), which premiered Monday on TLC and the company’s streaming service, Discovery+.

The title of the new show is fashioned after the name of TLC’s “1000-lb Sisters,” which premiered in January 2020.



According to TLC, the success of “Sisters” inspired the creation of “Best Friends,” which is in turn a spinoff of another show, “Too Large.”

That show, which premiered in November, featured two friends who were both struggling with their extreme weights and considering weight-loss surgery to deal with their problems, which could be life-threatening.

These procedures include various forms of bariatric surgery such as removing portions of patients’ stomachs to curb their food intake, and/or the installation of a so-called gastric band that is also said to curb intake and as a result, act as an appetite suppressant.

On “1000-lb Best Friends,” four women -- two of whom are from “Too Large” -- are seen struggling with their extreme weights and spending time with each other for support.

“The 1000-lb” title is a bit of a misnomer since the arithmetic does not add up. None of the four seem to tip the scales at 1,000 pounds.

Nor do their weights appear to add up to that number, especially since one of them is well over 600 pounds.

According to TLC, her struggle is what has inspired the others to take on the extreme challenge of losing their extreme weight.

The “1000-lb” designation is more of a branding title, indicating that TLC might be contemplating a series of “1000-lb” shows.

The strategy has certainly worked with TLC’s “90-Day Fiancé” franchise, which has spawned so many spinoffs that it’s doubtful anyone knows how many.

On “1000-lb. Sisters,” the combined weights of siblings Amy Slaton-Halterman and Tammy Slaton may be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 pounds, although neither of them appear to have reached that peculiar plateau individually.

On the show, Amy has been more successful in adopting lifestyle changes that have enabled her to shed at least some of her excess weight. While her weight has declined, Tammy’s has increased.

The longest-running of TLC’s obesity reality shows is “My 600-lb Life,” which features the morbidly overweight patients of Houston bariatric surgeon Younan Nowzaradan M.D., known on the show as Dr. Now.

His show has been around since 2012 and is a staple of TLC’s weeknight lineup on Wednesday nights.

On this show, viewers follow various people who weigh well over 600 pounds working with Dr. Now to lose a hundred pounds or more to qualify for weight-loss surgery.

On the show, Dr. Now is very open about the fact that the vast majority of patients over 600 pounds who say they want help to lose weight and undergo surgery fail to succeed.

Indeed, many of the patients seen recently fail miserably. They refuse to follow Dr. Now’s diet and exercise regimen and then never advance to surgery. At the end of many shows, they are seen still wallowing in their misery.

Another bariatric surgeon who has turned up in recent years on TLC is Atlanta-based Charles Procter M.D. 

The titles of some of his shows indicate that for TLC, there is no “weight cap” on the network’s heavyweight reality shows.

Two of Dr. Procter’s shows are called “Family By the Ton” and “My 3000-lb Family.”

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