Avid viewers of TLC’s “My 600-lb.Life” have been used to the scenes of morbidly obese people struggling to live and ultimately deciding to have bariatric surgery by Dr. Nowzardan, also known as “Dr. Now.” But, if viewers have been paying attention to TLC or the streaming app that hosts its family of shows, they might have been surprised by a show called “Too Large.”
Debuting on June 2, 2021, “Too Large” is a show with a similar premise to that of its forerunner, “My 600-lb. Life.” However, where the previous show focuses on a narration style that always ends up in a monotone, and the saddest parts of a person’s life, “Too Large” has a slightly different approach. And for some viewers, the difference might be too slight.
The end result is similar in “Too Large” as it is on “My 600-lb. Life.” Individuals realize that their various health conditions and their inability to do certain daily tasks are a result of their excess pounds. They find a doctor to help them with bariatric surgery. What is different is that when patients see Dr. Nowzarden, they are often 600-900 pounds. He requires them to lose weight before surgery. Even though the patients on “Too Large” (at least in the debut episode) are smaller (just under 500 pounds), they too, are required to lose weight before getting approved for weight loss surgery.
What is different though, is that the patients on “Too Large” seem more fully realized. They have lives – – at least one patient talks candidly about what she does to supplement her “very fixed” income. Viewers are allowed to see patients at home, living their lives and the difficulties their extra pounds create. Dramatic music does not play to emphasis the poignance of their experience. When patients cry about their pasts and the role food played in traumatic situations, viewers can feel the pathos.
The doctor is also different, but he is no stranger to TLC. He is Dr. Proctor from “1000-lb. Sisters,” “3000-lb. Family,” and “One Ton Family.” Located in Georgia, Dr. Proctor’s office seems in reasonable driving distance from all of the patients. In contrast with “My 600-lb. Life,” there are none of the dramatics about the toll taken on the obese patient as he or she travels from a hometown to Houston, Texas, where Dr. Now operates. Some patients have traveled across the country. Others have endured painful rides of several hours or more when they have been too large to fly.
What is not different is the readiness to show morbidly obese people at their worst. In “Too Large” just when viewers are sure they will be spared the sight of a nearly 500-lb. woman urinating on the floor because she cannot make it to the bathroom in time, they are not spared. And when the woman’s adoring boyfriend picks up the wet pads (placed on the floor in case of an accident), viewers get a full picture of their dynamics and of the woman’s sense of helplessness.
But there are bright spots, too. The title of the first episode is “We Big, but We Pretty.” The title captures the way the women feel about themselves, even before trying to lose weight or trying to get weight-loss surgery. Even long-time viewers of “My 600-lb. Life” would be hard pressed to find someone on the show who referred to herself as “pretty.” Some of the women seemed to know that they had good features, as evidenced by the way they expressed themselves through makeup and hairstyles. But usually, participants on “My 600-lb. Life” did not express good feelings about themselves until after surgery.
Whether a viewer prefers one show to another is a matter of taste. One thing is for certain: Americans seem to have a taste for shows about people they consider different. It is likely that “Too Large” will not be the last of its kind.