June 4, 2010By Marc Wilkofsky Posted: Jun 4, 2010
TRUE BEAUTY is back on ABC, and the series is a lighthearted break from daytime's dramatic offerings, offering its own version of personal drama — and wild personalities.
The reality show's second season, set in Las Vegas, has brought together 10 good-looking people, several of whom are unapologetically egocentric, and pitted them against each other in a competition to be the "Face of Vegas." But there's a whole other side to the battle: The contestants have no idea they'll be judged on their "inner beauty," such as their honesty, integrity and selflessness, and the winner scores $100,000.
In this week's lively premiere, having the Vegas residents (and tourists) vote for the costume contest winner was a fine way to acclimate the players to the city, while making it a significant part of the show. The judges had a somewhat difficult choice between the two lowest vote-getters: David, focused on his outfit-creating task, had failed a challenge to help a woman in need, but JD was tempted into stealing an item for his costume, and he was booted (after getting the scoop on the show's "true" side, which always produces an intriguing moment).
The series, which airs on Monday nights, is escapist entertainment with a bonus, as viewers get to cheer on contestants making moral choices, while wondering whether anyone will figure out the truth about the show (and who will get on whose nerves next). It's not an intense sociological experiment, but there will likely be several surprises and memorable moments as the players get to know each other and themselves. New host Carson Kressley is a hilarious addition whose quips help to make the show, and he shares an easygoing rapport with co-host Beth Stern, while secret judge Vanessa Minnillo brings the same charm and perceptiveness she did to the first enjoyable season.
This time around, I predict that Michael, Michelle, Taylor and Amy (who believes the beauty scale of one to 10 isn't enough for her) will make it to the final four.
Speaking of contestants making it far, since I lauded the series in my previous entry (and yes, I'll return to discussing daytime soaps next time), I thought I'd mention THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES' recent finale, one of the more exciting wrap-ups of this prime-time season. Weight loss is only one aspect of the NBC series, and its latest powerful season was about much more than numbers, but that's what it all came down to, as host Alison Sweeney (DAYS OF OUR LIVES' Sami) helped to reveal who had lost the most weight and remind viewers of the intense struggles the contestants faced for months. Well-chosen flashbacks presented a look at central moments in the contestants' paths on the show. Early on in the season, Ashley asked her mom what will happen if she can't handle the gym's challenges, and Sherry's response to her teammate was my favorite line of the season: "But what if you go in there and you can?" Sherry was close to winning the at-home weight challenge, but it was beautifully fitting that Koli — who worked extremely hard to become one of the three finalists, but just missed the cut — took home the 100 grand for his total loss (more than 50 percent of his original weight).
It was also a plus that before traveling to the ranch, Daris promised his hometown of Ardmore, Okla., that he would lose 150 pounds...and by the time he returned, he lost 151. Fellow finalist Ashley said so long to a total of 183 pounds. Michael entered the competition as the heaviest LOSER contestant ever, at 526 pounds, and after not trusting himself and railing against the show's challenges (making him arguably the season's most emotional player), he lost half his body weight, and scored the 250 grand. Once again, LOSER changed more than a dozen lives for the better, and I can't wait for the next season.