I love me some Jillian Michaels. Love, love, love. I really do. Sure, I like to make fun of her and Bob for their various ridiculous sayings and the faces they make when they're trying to be serious. But deep down, I straight-up adore her. Those eyebrows, those biceps, that contorted face of screaming rage. She gets results, and in the end you can tell that she really cares about the people she's training.
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One thing I don't get and will never get about Jillian, however, is her seemingly split personality. One second, Jillian will be perched on the treadmill like a bird, watching someone sweat buckets and mercilessly punching the speed up, up, up, and the next she is getting all emotional and asking them to tell her about their parents. What is this? Where is the shouting? The evil cackle? The "I WILL BE IN YOUR FACE LIKE THIS EVERY DAY!"? The Jillian I know and love doesn't hunker down and talk about emotions. What are you playing at, NBC?
The Dr. Freud version of Jillian doesn't so much annoy me as intrigue me. Why does the show require her to switch so frequently from her normal persona? One possible explanation is the revelation of contestant back-story. Yes, every contestant on this show has a rich and elaborate personal drama. They get picked to be on the show precisely because they make wonderful television. Don has his estranged son, Sara has her fertility problems, and even sunshiny Courtney deals with the prospect of disappointing her mother. How else, on reality television, do we give these stories screen time? One way, apparently, is to get Jillian down in that squat she loves so much (Has anyone else noticed how much she does this? Anyone?) and get them to spill their guts. It's a method that works, and it breaks up the monotony of watching the team lift weights for half an hour.
Another possible reason for this rapid-fire change of personalities is that it tackles the emotional issues that lead to weight gain. While The Biggest Loser may not be entirely true to life in that the average person can't really spend sixteen hours of their day in a gym getting yelled at by famous people, the issues that the contestants face are issues that the average American faces every day. Who hasn't turned to macaroni and cheese to temper the sting of rejection? (Just me?) In an America that is increasingly aware of our weight problem, having Jillian bring the psychological factors that can lead to obesity to light is a good way to educate people.
Lastly, if Jillian only yelled and screamed at people, who would watch the show? While watching Jillian bestow tough love on her team is entertaining, it would eventually get old if she didn't lighten up once in a blue moon. We need warm-and-cuddly Jillian to make us grateful for hard-as-nails Jillian, and vice versa. Nobody likes watching people get yelled at around the clock, but it's also boring to watch people get lavished with attention and petted like sad puppies all the time.
Basically, I get you, Jillian. You might mix you metaphors and confuse the heck out of me with the insane crap that comes out of your mouth, but I can respect what you're trying to do.
Image credit NBC.