And other times, to hell with it, let’s just get to the destination. Why dwell on the detail when there’s a makeover to be had?
Seven’s new “transformation” show Bringing Sexy Back joins a genre that has given us everything from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to, well, Extreme Makeover. Geek makeovers notwithstanding, Seven’s last foray into this arena was Sonia Kruger’s 10 Years Younger in 10 Days in 2009.
The latest addition is hosted by Samantha Armytage and goes beyond a style makeover to add a weight-loss component. It’s a curious choice to have a journalist fronting a lifestyle series, but the lure of primetime is clearly tempting. She is joined by hunky trainer Cameron Byrnes, who looks a little like the offspring of The Commando and Shannon Ponton, and stylist Jules Sebastian (yes, she owns up to being wife of her talented hubby, Guy).
Bringing Sexy Back goes to great lengths to tell us it will have a transformation every week. In the first episode is an obese 28 year old trucker named Ned, who has stacked on 70kgs in 2 years and looks nothing like he did when he met his girlfriend, Becky.
Ned still lives with his folks in Hall’s Gap near The Grampians (just a stone’s throw from Biggest Loser‘s Ararat). If this is a roast chook show aimed at middle Australia then bugger me, they don’t come more dinky-di than Ned and his family. There are times when these humble folk look like they don’t quite know what to make of Television coming to town.
It comes via the ‘Sexy Truck’ with Armytage surprising Ned on the road (despite the fact there’s a camera filming his surprise inside his truck cabin -thinking too long about this ruins the magic). In her Sexy Truck sexy Armytage measures Ned with some “cutting edge” technology, telling him how obese he is and, crucially, how his body fat ratio could lead to life-threatening illnesses. Cheered on by some locals, Ned is determined to turn his life around.
Trainer Cam stays with him at his home farm for a week, inflicting a Commando-style regime against bad food and lack of exercise. There’s plenty of back story -and those annoying direct-to-camera monologues that pervade everything on Seven- to personalise the conflict. Quietly watching on are mum and dad and Ned’s loyal girlfriend, Becky.
Make no mistake. Becky is the star of this show: a sweet, disaffected country girl who stands by her guy while Television puts him through the wringer. What she achieves with so little is a lesson for all casting directors.
After a week of trainer punishment, we barrel through the weeks (last clocked at around 23 weeks) as cameras film Ned continuing the training with little more than family assistance, and possibly a few encouraging cameramen. He trains at his folks’ pool, does his bit in the face of local bushfires, and greets the Sexy Truck at Week 8 when Armytage and Byrnes return. It’s another 15 weeks before they return, denoted by a subtle calendar watermark.
Jules Sebastian, accompanied by plenty of sponsor-branded shopping bags, is very relaxed in her series debut, giving singlet-clad Ned the grooming without a complete “zhuzh.”
The nighttime reveal, in a local venue lit up like it is ready to start another bushfire, sees Armytage hosting (and recapping just in case you missed it) before a jubilant crowd of locals. Ned certainly looks the part when she asks “Did he bring his sexy back?”
Along the way I learned plenty about Ned and his lovely Becky to make me feel warm and fuzzy, and I guess I got my makeover. But the show lacks the fitness and dietary detail required for viewers to achieve anything like Ned does in 23 weeks. Compacted into 42 minutes it’s a montage makeover with a helicopter host (I counted 3 visits in 23 weeks) and I suspect leaves itself open to all sorts of probing questions from women’s mags. With such limited appearances by the hosting trio, perhaps this is ultimately a DIY show?
And when all was said and done, nobody thought to film Ned the truck driver driving the Sexy Truck? Bugger.
Bringing Sexy Back airs 7:30pm Tuesday on Seven.