>I’m not a reality show fan and don’t find much interesting in them, but I confess that one has reeled me in — Kabel 1, a cable station in Germany, has begun airing its own version of “The Biggest Loser” on Tuesdays. The first surprising thing was that they found this many extremely obese Germans. Overweight, sure, but massively overweight still seems to be uncommon.
One notable aspect of this show (maybe just for me) is that there are three candidates of Turkish descent, one man and two women. The women are aunt and niece, and they both speak with a slight blue-collar Turkish accent, but they are thoroughly western-oriented. The man speaks flawless, accent-free German like a native, at a level you expect from academic professionals (he’s a bit of a flake, but that’s another matter. The only obviously Turkish thing about him is his name.)
Why am I bothering to write this? Because when one reads about Turkish matters in German-speaking Europe, it’s easy to assume that there is this huge ethnic divide that keeps us all separated, and that’s not always the case. There are endless variations. While I am cynical enough to entertain the idea that they were put in for ratings purposes, and to get Turkish viewers to watch, so far there has not been one single issue raised on the shows about cultural differences pertaining to ethnicity. In fact, the “most German” pair, a couple of brawny, pasty bald dock-worker types from Hamburg, (think two oversize Mr. Cleans!) also seem to be the ones who are the most tolerant of everyone, even of the most annoying candidates.
The producers may have been hoping for more spark in the gender wars, however, and so far they’re not getting it. The pair of Turkish women have consistently come in last in the events, but they are losing the most weight, which keeps them from being voted off. They are also personable and warm, and the aunt especially is proving to be a great inspiration, by leaving her comfort zone well behind to get through things she (and we) thought she’d never be able to do. So, while they are still there after show 4, the others are not looking at them as competition. There were two married couples (both boring, both gone), and one pair of sisters who could have really stirred things up, except that they seemed to have more pressing issues than weight; seen, for example, when the ex-endurance-athlete of the two burst into tears when challenged to “get it all out” in sparring training with the coach. It was fascinating for me — just like opera class! I never realized it but we were also being so consistently pulled out of our comfort zones to the same extent — to the point of tears, often.
This is probably why I’m pulled to this show, and not to the other “Survivor”-type reality shows where the contestants have to do icky or super-human things. Like my voice classes, this show deals with people who just want to accomplish something, get through the hard stuff and in the process better themselves. Most of the time, you see clearly that they themselves are their toughest hindrance — and again, that’s how it is with learning to sing for most of us. Getting past being your own worst enemy, and learning how to live without self-sabotage.