Big deal: TLC weighs in with obesity reality show

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The network behind “Little People, Big World” is taking on another group of people who don’t quite fit in the regular society.

TLC has ordered a six-episode series that chronicles the lives of a morbidly obese family facing everyday realities.

The half-hour documentary series, tentatively titled “One Big Happy Family,” was created by Mike Duffy, who drew on his own experience.

“Growing up, we had a problem with obesity, and I know how it feels to be fat,” said Duffy, senior vp development and current at the show’s producer RDF USA.

Duffy’s inspiration is his father who, at age 60, lost 200 pounds.

“That changed the entire dynamic of my family,” he said. Obesity is always is a family issue, but “watching television, it occurred to me that there is a void for programing where we deal with obesity in the family unit,” he added.

Duffy set out to find a family who wanted to make a change in their lives, and found it just outside of Charlotte, N.C.

The family to be chronicled on the show consists of a 40-year-old man weighing 340 pounds; his 35-year-old wife, who is close to 400 pounds; and their 330- and 340-pound teenage kids.

The documentary will tell each of their stories in first-person, with a special attention on the children, a boy and a girl.

“High school is hard enough to deal with -- imagine what it would be like to be morbidly obese,” Duffy said.

He dismissed suggestions that the series might be exploitative.

“This is a very loving family,” he said. “They are dedicated to losing the weight because they communicate as well as love each other so much.”

But in trying to drop the pounds, they will rely on each other.

“This is not a game show where contestants have TV trainers and obesity specialists everyday as they are competing for a $250,000 prize,” Duffy said, referring to NBC’s popular reality series “The Biggest Loser.”

He compared “One Big Happy Family” to “Little People, Big World.”

“‘Little People, Big World’ is about little people living in a big world. This is about big people living in a little world -- fat people living in a skinny world,” Duffy said.