opinion

The world has flipped upside down and all people care about is The Footy Show hosts' bodies.

On Thursday, the AFL Footy Show will return to screens following a mad – and very public – scramble to reinvent a program that began to lose its most loyal of followers.

A two-year-period of consistent shake-ups, rotating hosts and the injection of a different, more inclusive kind of Footy Show – one where Sam Newman wasn’t given leeway to willingly and ignorantly offend – had an ironic, if sad, result: In its attempts to include and appease everybody, it began to appeal to nobody.

And so, like only jobs in the media can, host Craig Hutchison was dropped with callous-like swiftness, a dust of the hands enough of a farewell before Eddie McGuire, the untouchable Eddie McGuire, was welcomed back into the foray, and at the helm, of a show he knew so well.

Hutchison had the job for less than a season, fired before he had a chance to warm the seat. It was an interesting news cycle. Minimal time, or sympathy, was given for a man who was sacked with little pre-warning. AFL fans and the media alike fixated on McGuire’s return. The Footy Show was back. Craig who?

Former host Craig Hutchison.

Hutchison was and is no victim. Of course, he still has other projects keeping him afloat, working and in the public eye. And yet, his exit was enveloped with a strange, sad kind of self-shaming. In the days after his sacking, he took to his podcast The Sounding Board to address what had quickly become a national story.

“I think there’s a reasonable expectation that if you’re going to host a television show... you’re in good nick to do it and that you’re visually appealing to the audience,” he said of his exit.

“There’s a clear expectation — as there should be. The weird part about it is that I actually lost 16kg. But I’m still overweight.

“It was just too far to come back in such a short period of time with the commitments I’ve got. That probably sounds like a bit of a cop-out because I could have got myself in better nick. No question."

To be clear, and in the interest of context, this wasn't the only reason or excuse Hutchison gave for his sacking. It was one of a few. But, importantly, it was still, well, one.

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“I’m just not naturally equipped to do it. I find it a bit trickier than the average bloke. But again, you’ve got to take all of that on the chin. I knew it’d probably take a year for people to shift their view of me — and some never will. But it didn’t work out," he went on.

Incoming host Eddie McGuire.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and The Footy Show's return is palpable. The Herald Sun has published no less than five articles about its return in the last two days alone - the PR train peddling - Eddie's name, face, and a football alongside each one. One in particular stood tall among the predictable nature of others.

It began like so:

A match-fit Eddie McGuire has continued his weight-loss campaign, having shed a total of 20kg since he opted to shape up three months ago.

It will be a slim and trim McGuire who makes a triumphant return as co-host of The Footy Show this Thursday, with a potent mix of old favourites, new segments and big-name surprise guests ready to greet viewers.

And all of a sudden, we had a very quiet, very female thread binding the outgoing, and incoming, hosts of The Footy Show together.

Weight. And it's a ghastly strange sight.

Here we have two men, two remarkably accomplished men, making headlines for condition, not character. Naturally, correlation, in this instance, may not equal causation. The producers of The Footy Show may not have intended to replace Hutchison with someone able to lose weight at a faster rate than he was able to muster.

But the quiet murmurings about weight that envelope the sacking of one, and the promotion of another, speak to a much more inherent thought-process we can't shake: Skinny people are healthy, together, ready to tackle anything, and those who aren't simply can't.

It's a uniquely female thing, the fixation on aesthetics. At least, until very recently it was.

I would welcome Hutchison and McGuire to a party women have been at for years, but then, the glare of the camera is blinding. And no one is having much fun.

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