THE SHOW " The Biggest Loser: Couples"
WHEN|WHERE Tuesday night at 9 on NBC/4
REASON TO WATCH Bethpage-raised Tara Costa, who could become the third contestant from Long Island to win NBC's resurgent reality show. (The others: Erik Chopin of West Islip and Bill Germanakos of Massapequa.)
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The couple who are probably of greatest interest to L.I. viewers are roomies Tara and Laura (last names on the show, as with most reality shows, are rarely if ever used or mentioned). Both are longtime friends and plus-size models who worked in New York. Costa, 23, is an executive with L'Oreal in Manhattan, but her hometown is Bethpage.
Costa is now the one to beat on NBC's highest-rated unscripted show - 10.4 million viewers to date, or 2 million over the sixth season. The show is also on pace to become the most-watched "Loser" of them all.
A winner is determined by who loses the most weight, expressed as a percentage, over the course of the season. Costa began the season at 294 pounds and is now within a few pounds of losing 100, the first female to do so while on the ranch at "TBL."
CATCHING UP Costa is de facto leader of the Black team (contestants are split into two teams, like "Survivor"), which has completely dominated and demoralized the Blue. How has it managed this feat? In part, Costa won immunity from competition a couple of weeks ago, and then earned rights to strategically match Black team members opposite Blue team members. The Blacks even got a night of luxury, which involved a generous consumption of tequila, and still beat the Blues.
BOTTOM LINE What's best about "The Biggest Loser" - couples or solo - is that it often feels more real than most reality shows. Unlike those others - " The Bachelor," excepted, which is about "true love" - the stakes here seem more personal. This is about health, self-esteem, quality of life and even life expectancy. Sure, someone's going to win a quarter-million, but what's the use of money if future health is squandered? And this season feels most urgent of all. Why? Maybe all the tears at elimination - and who out there didn't tear up just a bit when Mandi was sent home two weeks ago? Meanwhile, there's Costa: She's an everywoman who's morphed into a superwoman. Many viewers are rooting for her. Easy to see why.
GRADE A- ("The Biggest Loser" earns a demerit for those grating in-show product placement plugs.)