E!'s New Eating Disorder Series Will Help Those Who Cannot Keep Up With the Kardashians
In case you felt E!'s True Hollywood Stories of Karen Carpenter and Growing Pains's Tracey Gold weren't didactic enough, the network just announced plans for What's Eating You?, a six-episode docuseries about eating disorders. I'm sure they didn't purposely title it to sound like an old-timey Groucho Marx game show. Frankly, even though "What's Eating You" is also an Ontario eating-disorder help resource, the details of the first few episodes make this series seem like another Hoarders gawkfest with an exploitative twist.
Some subjects from What's Eating You?'s first season:
"...A woman who eats a roll of toilet paper dipped in pickle juice every night before bed; another who lives in seclusion and feels compelled to eat twigs, pencil erasers and super-glue; and an aspiring model whose body is so starved that she physically smells because her body literally is eating itself alive."
"I know that I speak for everyone at E! when I say how proud we are to welcome this important program to our network," said Lisa Berger, the network's executive VP of Having It Both Ways. "The prevalence of eating disorders is all too common in a society that can often value looks and appearance above all else."
Also too prevalent in this society: Shows about eating disorders that are designed to seem helpful and end up being condescending. Putting an anorectic on television and deeming their physical transformation a spectacle is a sure first step in confirming that appearance really is everything. There's potential here for What's Eating You? to do more than evince E!'s long-underestimated societal understanding, but for right now it sounds like a self-congratulatory effort to counteract other programming like 101 Fugliest Celebrity Facelifts, or whatever.
But back to that title: What's Eating You?. Come on. This ranks up in impropriety with a little upcoming gem called Thintervention. Chills.