Six weeks of physically gruelling tasks coupled with a near-starvation diet. Is this simply a celebrity reality show dressed up as a dangerous crash diet, undertaken for the nation’s enjoyment?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ was a television show about B-grade celebrities camping in the jungle. But if you’ve tuned into more than a few minutes of Channel 10’s reality offering, then you’d know it’s not: It’s about food. Or more specifically, the lack of food.
Every element of the show revolves around food.
The audience nominates celebrities for involvement in ‘tucker trials’ where they must compete in terrifying or disgusting challenges to win a decent meal for themselves and their competitors. If they don’t succeed? Beans and rice to the caloric value of 500 is all each contestant receives for the day.
These tucker trials often involve eating vomit-inducing food, and as the contestants struggle to keep the traditional African meals down, they often lose even more of their precious calorie intake to vomiting. There are also additional challenges, where the celebrities can compete for sweet treats to add to the day’s meagre fare but these are rarely won.
The outcome is six weeks of physically gruelling tasks coupled with a near-starvation diet.
Unsurprisingly, many of the celebrities drop a substantial amount of weight during the course of the show. Already slim women become gaunt and bones may even begin to protrude. For larger celebrity contestants, they can drop 10, 15, 20 or more kilograms during their short jungle stay; rapid weightless medical professionals would all advice against.
Recent media headlines triumphantly proclaiming the stars ‘achievements’ have made us wonder if this weight loss is the real interest element of the show.
“Chrissie Swan drops three dress sizes in four weeks” shouts one.
“The Jungle Diet: Merv the biggest loser” proclaims another.
“Stars lose combined 75kg in three weeks!”
Indeed, when Merv Hughes was evicted last night the first thing the hosts asked him to do was jump on a set of scales before he was applauded for his 17kg weight loss in a mere five weeks.
While the focus on rapid weight loss, food deprivation and physical exertion is unhealthy and even a little bit unnerving, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here is not unique amongst reality TV shows.