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'What's Eating You' is insightful, but almost too painful to watch

BY ALEXANDER RUSS
Daily Arts Writer
Published October 19, 2010

A lot of people have issues with eating. Maybe it's difficult to put down that last chocolate chip cookie. Maybe you walk away from the restaurant knowing you should have ordered a salad instead of a bacon double cheeseburger. But these problems are nothing compared to the real eating disorders displayed on the new E! television series “What’s Eating You” While the show provides a genuine and often scary look into the lives of people afflicted by eating disorders, it has an overwhelmingly downbeat tone that's almost impossible to overcome.

The first episode follows the lives of Adrienne and Dannie. Adrienne lives in Phoenix and is a highly talented yet grossly underweight dancer who considers a full meal to be two spoonfuls of plain oatmeal. Danni lives in New Jersey and fell into anorexia due to the stress of her brother’s medical problems, as well as falling short of becoming cheerleading captain in high school — which was her aspiration for her entire four years there. The two girls are brought to therapists to help cope with their issues, but the sessions don't go as smoothly as planned.

“What’s Eating You” does a fantastic job of giving a personal look at the lives of everyday people and their struggles with this disease. This is not taken from some celebrity’s point of view. Watching the girls deny that they have problems or attempt to refuse treatment can be difficult to watch, but it's indicative of the power and influence eating disorders can have.

On that note, though, the show is almost too depressing. Eating disorders create a lot of problems for the people they afflict, as well as the people around them. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be some happy moments within the show. All that was shown was how the disorders hit the girls and their families from all sides. Not only is Adrienne’s health in danger, but so is her relationship with her family, as well as her job as a dancer. We needed a little room to breathe and relax; there’s enough stubbornness, crying and feelings of helplessness to make us consider turning the TV off because it's just so painful.

“What’s Eating You” is a fascinating series, but one can only hope the show decides to be more heartwarming than heart-wrenching in the future. This show gives testimony to the fact that eating disorders are never to be taken lightly, but at the same time, it's impossible to really enjoy.


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