Ellen Gray: New show 'Shedding' blends weight-loss & weddings

Posted: February 23, 2011


THE FIRST thing you need to know about the CW's new "reality" show, "Shedding for the Wedding," is that it's not about dandruff.

Or anything involving skin.

No, in the tradition of the medium that says everything that rises (or sinks) must eventually converge, two of my least favorite "reality" genres - the weight-loss competitions and the weddings-on-steroids shows - come together in one only occasionally repellent package tonight, as couples compete to win their "dream wedding" - and have it featured in People magazine - by losing weight together.

Presumably, people who don't dream of seeing their weddings featured in People wouldn't be signing up for a TV show that requires them to stand on scales once a week in workout gear that barely covers them.

(OK, I was wrong - there is some skin involved. And, um, man boobs.)

Co-created by "The Biggest Loser" producer David Broome and hosted by actress Sara Rue ("Less Than Perfect"), a Jenny Craig spokeswoman and soon-to-be bride, "Shedding" borrows heavily from "Loser's" greatest hits, from the obnoxious scale that can't seem to settle on a number to the even more obnoxious female trainer, Jennifer Cohen, who won't be happy until someone throws up on a treadmill. Broome calls the show the "anti-'Bridalplasty' " and he's right to a point: The couples on "Shedding" are at least in this together.

Even as the brides-to-be are being encouraged by wedding planner Brian Worley to say yes to a dress they'll need months of hard work to be able to squeeze into, their fiances are trying on tuxes that would also look better on harder bodies than theirs.

They're side by side for the wedding-cake tastings, the "Till Death Do Us Part" elimination challenges, the moments when Rue, who otherwise seems to have little to do beyond looking like a great "after" picture, says there's "a twist" involved in something or other. If you watch shows like this to laugh at the contestants (hey, you know who you are), there's going to be considerably less guilt involved in this one.

On "Biggest Loser," Broome told reporters last month, "we're on a death march with our contestants. They literally have one foot in the grave. They are ticking time bombs. This show is lighthearted . . . These are couples that are in love, [and] they want to grow old and get fat together. They're just starting out with half that already accomplished."

Plus, their dream weddings aren't exactly Martha Stewart-style extravaganzas, or even "Bridezilla" productions. Take the couple who met when he was in a fraternity, she in a sorority.

Their theme is "Greek Week," and they'd like a beer-pong table at the wedding. But the bride - who's not shy about correcting her husband-to-be's grammar - wants it to be a monogrammed beer-pong table, "because that keeps it a little classy."

Initials apparently matter, too, to the "eco-friendly" couple who met in middle school and now envision a wedding with monograms of moss.

Suddenly, the pair who met during an online video game and want their wedding to recreate the setting of one of their favorite games seem pretty mainstream, although my heart was won by the pack-a-day smokers who decided to quit as the competition began.

"We're about six hours into it and all I want to do is choke her," says the groom (whom the bride blames for the 60 pounds she's gained since she met him).

As on "Biggest Loser," there's an emphasis on the weekly numbers - the couple's total weight is used to calculate the percentage lost - that may not be the best measure of progress.

In fact, during the second week's weigh-in, trainer Nicky Holender explains the ebb and flow of weight loss in a way that underscores how little one week's numbers may tell us, for instance, about gains in muscle mass in people who've been working out hard.

Rue, who said she's lost "more than 50 pounds," taken up running and completed her first half-marathon last year, wasn't interested in sharing her current weight with a room full of reporters. "None of your business," she told one who dared to ask.

But then she can probably afford any wedding she wants. *

Send e-mail to graye@phillynews.com.

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