Last week, I was shopping at my local discount grocery store and a very large man in a scooter was attempting to maneuver his way through the bakery section. He cut a corner too short near the table full of discount hot dog buns and the table tipped sideways, sending day old buns airborne. In a panic, Scooter Man backed up (“beep, beep”) and ran over about a dozen of the packages. After bunapaloosa died down, a cheerful employee righted the table and put all of the packages, including those with tire marks and cut in pieces right back on the table. This has nothing to do with this week’s show, “Losing it with Jillian”, losing weight, the Supreme Court nomination or TVGasm, but I now know where I can buy buns that are already cut to fit my favorite kind of dog.
Bunless no more
This week, our favorite android (or 2nd favorite if you’re a huge Bishop fan from “Aliens”), heads to Springfield, Tennessee to invade the home of the Vivios. The Vivio family consists of Mom and Dad (Laverne and Mark) and their sons: Jeremiah and Caleb (twins, 18 years old), Jedediah (14 years old) and Elijah (13 years old), who is already 330 pounds. WTH?
Isaac and Malachai are scared of exactly one adult:
Hot but scary
Meet the Vivio Family!
There are people who go through life tinkling Pixie Dust and there are others who consistently walk into automatic doors that do not work. The Vivio family are glass bangers. Mark used to have a roofing business, but he had to get rid of because of his health issues. I don’t think “issues” quite covers it—he’s had 11 or 12 heart procedures in the past year. When does an issue truly become a problem, after surgery #8? He now drives a school bus and I’m sure that’s really good for his heart. “SIT DOWN YOU PIECES OF S**T!” Wow, how relaxing. So, Laverne has had to pick up the slack financially. We’re never told how and I’m too scared to speculate. Laverne’s an attractive lady—she just needs a little fine tuning. (Don’t we all?)
J-roid shows up at their “home”, which looks like a farm that grows nothing and as she wanders around trying to find which building the family actually lives in, she encounters an enormous number of cats and dogs just roaming around. The family is sitting around eating lunch, sharing none with the camera crew and J-roid finally calls them on her cell. I’m totally impressed she was able to get bars out there, because this place really looks like it is in the middle of nowhere. And true to formula, Laverne acts totally shocked Jillian is calling them. “Well, hey, Jillian! What’s going down, clown?”
She’s a crying on the inside kind of clown.
Jilliandroid comes running in and quickly blurts, “You’re all so huge!”. Nice. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be there. Fat people pay your salary. But actually, she means tall and she even says she feels like a leprechaun next to them. She gets introduced to everyone and tells them to go ahead and get changed. Mark, “In workout clothes?” No, Mark, bunny costumes. It’s the one animal we haven’t seen yet roaming on your “farm”.
Which is way better than leaving your drink in the gun rack
They head out to the back yard and J-roid immediately starts making Mom and the two boys run. Mark can only walk briskly for fear the stitches from his last surgery may come out. J-roid tells us she’s frustrated that she can’t work out Mark more. After a quick lap, the family is moving tires, breaking rocks, pushing tractors and wheelbarrows. And none of these are props. These are all things that existed in their yard. They’re all having a swell time until Jedediah starts puking. Which gets J-roid all excited. She is one sick puppy. “I want to see this!” She questions him on what he had for breakfast and between spews, he says, “Ten pieces of bacon”. She points out some pieces of bacon on the ground with obvious excitement. How is she still single?
After the first workout, she pulls Elijah aside because he looks upset. Hey, at least he still has his bacon. Elijah tells J-roid that he heard his brother saying he was doing twice as much as Elijah and that hurt him. J-roid quickly figures out there is much more going on with the 13 year old than a few extra pounds and decides she needs to focus on him. She sits him down and said, “I was a fat kid too. I’d be alone on Saturday nights, stuffing my bra, reading Judy Blume and french kissing my Ralph Macchio poster and my stomach always hurt from too much Amish fudge and my privates were sore from using Mom’s tampons ‘cause I wasn’t really a Woman yet and then the next Lobsterfest would roll around again and I’d be happy for a while, but even now sometimes, when my sports bra gets damp…”
J-roid lets Elijah speak again and he says that his Dad is really hard to talk to. Football is a huge thing in this family as Dad and the other sons play all the time. Elijah is scared to tell his Dad he doesn’t like football. J-roid promises she’ll work on it. They wander with the rest of the family to a bridge that has been flooded out and never re-built. Mark explains that they call the bridge “Downfall of Man” because when they built the bridge a few years ago, Mark tore his ACL. He went to the doctor with that injury and that is when his heart problems came to light. I would change the name to “An ACL saved my mother scratchin’ life and if I could bend down and kiss my knee, I would.” But “Downfall of Man” works too.
They show J-roid to her room, which is in a separate building. She pulls a “Waltons” by yelling out her window, “Good night, Jedediah. Good night, Elijah. Good night, Dog #4”. Lol, J-roid. Morning arrives (as it tends to do) and everything on the “ranch” is just waking up.
Americans love the World Cup!
Laverne rings the breakfast bell and the family gets moving. J-roid rides with Mark on the school bus and questions him on what it’s like to be the Dad. Mark replies that it’s about providing financially. Emotion bells ring in her head that maybe he grew up without much affection and that’s how he treats his boys. The football playing sons don’t mind nearly as much as gentle, young Elijah. Ding, ding, ding and we have a winner! Elijah does not feel important in his Dad’s eyes because his Dad is all about football and teams and manly stuff. Like heart surgery.
After Mark’s bus route, they return home and J-roid gets to meet the twins, Jeremiah (not a bullfrog) and Caleb, home from college. J-roid asks the family, “So, how do we spend family time?” Duh—football! So, they all go out in the junk yard to play. And Eli, to his own prediction, failed catastrophically. I feel for the kid, but I’m so distracted by what is apparently airplane wreckage behind him.
After football, they head back to the gym. While Jedediah does well on the treadmill, Elijah is too scared to go fast and tells Jilliandroid that he’s just an all around failure. He says he can talk to his Mom about it but if he tells his Dad he’s scared that he will fail and people will make fun of him, his Dad tells him to “suck it up”. J-roid decides that phrase needs to die in this family. Something needs to die in this show, because I want some action! The twins leave to go back to college and J-roid takes Mom and Dad and the two younger kids to Subway. Why? Someone’s got to pay for this show. Hi, Jared! After lunch, they go back to the gym and J-roid forces Elijah to do a 12 mile per hour sprint. I get winded driving that, so good luck kid. And he does it, but whaaaa??
Hey, hopalong…we can ALL do that…
No, he really does do it correctly but he totally blows it off like a big deal. He can’t accept being proud of something. This poor child is a whole Hefty bag of issues. J-roid decides to target Mom as the cause of all this insecurity. Dad must tell her to “suck it up” too. What? Nope, too easy… Anyway, she feels like the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, or in this case, the pizza slice too far from the oven. J-roid knows that if Laverne can feel confident, she’ll ooze confidence to poor Eli. Every time I type the name “Laverne”, I can’t help but remember the one episode of “Laverne and Shirley” when Lenny and Squiggy bought personalized motorcycle-type jackets but they didn’t have enough money for all the letters, so “Lone Wolf” became “One Wolf”. That was classic. So, J-roid pushes Laverne even harder on the treadmill and wait for it…yep, she totally wipes out. Yikes.
Building a solid case for continued weight gain around the globe
For the first time in this show’s illustrious (yeah, I know 5 weeks isn’t illustrious but I’m needy) history, the medic had to be brought in to check out Laverne. She’s pretty beat up, but okay. Tough bird, this one. Jilliandroid takes her outside to bleed and talk about her and Elijah and where all these feelings of self-doubt came from. Well, J-droid, she just wiped out going 4 mph on a treadmill—why don’t you just throw some salt on that chin?
J-roid convinces her that both she and Eli are extraordinary people and she needs to start acting that way. Wow—one subway sandwich is a lot cheaper than hours of therapy. Not that I know. Hell, I don’t eat at Subway. Now that Mom is “fixed’, J-roid focuses again on Eli and she decides to go to his school where he tells her he gets bullied about once a week. Yay! Kick some juvie ass, J-roid! That’s what we’re talking…oh wait, she’s just going to join him in his “Leadership” class. J-roid gets up to talk about the benefits of knowing who you are, how delicious Subway is and loving yourself. Sadly, no tips on hiding shivs in their backpacks. She asks if anyone in the room has ever been picked on. Um, Jill? It’s Leadership class, not Cool Kids’ class. And of course, they all raise their limp little arms and say, “yes”. Elijah feels fantastic that all his little nerd friends have also been picked on. Nice, little man. Already wishing bad stuff on other people so you feel better? Save that for the mean girls. And what kind of class is this?
What do you think the story is with the stuffed animal?
Back home, J-roid approaches Laverne and Mark and basically tells them they need to get rid of the barriers they’ve built around them and open up the lines of communication with each other and their sons. She goes further and tells Mark that Eli is afraid to approach him. Because he’s a pussy. Kidding! She did not say that at all. Mark gets all teary eyed and says he’s made a lot of mistakes. He thought he was being a good provider and that would be enough, but now he realizes they need more than that. Aw…So, next we see Mark and Elijah have a nice heart to heart.
Bench: “Please make this fast”
Mark starts by telling Elijah that he screwed up as a father. Elijah tells him he tells his Mom about him being picked on, but not his Dad. He goes further to say he doesn’t like to play football and he never wanted to tell him that because he was afraid to disappoint him. Mark tells him he will love him no matter what and he really likes his artwork and pictures and dead animal collection. They hug it out and everyone’s happy.
Before we can say “Sanford and Son”, it’s the last day for J-roid on the farm. She takes them all to the fallen bridge and tells them they need to rebuild it. If they build the bridge back up, they can move on as a family. At least over the creek. Little overkill on the symbolism, but our J-roid is never subtle. After they start working on the bridge, J-roid gathers them up to talk about their goals for the next 8 weeks. Laverne wants to get down to 190 lbs. Mark wants to lose 50 lbs. Eli wants a better relationship with his Dad. His brother, Jedediah, just wanted a speaking role on this show. Jilliandroid gets ready to leave and the whole family says they’ll miss her. Mark says that in the next 8 weeks he wants to share more with his wife more and give her a happy family.
Which is a great idea if you’re not trying to lose weight.
Eight weeks later. The tension is palpable. Or not. J-roid comes back the ranch/estate/whatever and there is a huge crowd gathering, probably thinking this is an Elimination Challenge from Top Chef. But no, they’re all there to gather around the newly re-built bridge.
Bridge to Nowhere
They bring out Jedediah who just kind of waves and the crowd murmurs, “Who’s that kid?” and then Elijah comes out. He looks happy and thinner and there are no visible bruises, so hopefully there’s a hiatus on the bullying. Mark comes out and he’s lost 50 lbs! And he’s kind of handsome.
Then Laverne comes out and she looks great—she lost 31 lbs.
They decide to do some toasts to the bridge and the crowd cheers (hungrily). Poor Eli is sweating like a pig and he’s thanking everyone for the support and stuff and the whole crowd is really into it…
It’s a real network, lady. Can you at least act like you care?
J-roid hands over the $50,000.00 check and they break a bottle of champagne on the bridge, which luckily doesn’t destroy it again and yay! Easy access to another patch of woods. They show pictures of how well the family is doing and Elijah has joined the swim team. Good for him. We don’t know what happened to the other brothers because apparently, we’re not supposed to give a s**t about them. Way to go, Vivio Family!
Well, Clarice—have the benches stopped screaming?