Ever since Kirstie Alley gained lots of weight after quitting smoking and cleansing her palate of cocaine, we have seen, in gossip magazines and on TV, Alley’s struggle to slim down to her formerly slender figure of yore. But Alley’s endless progression of diets has served to little avail.
So while waiting on a miracle, Alley came up with the idea for Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, a new reality show that airs on the A&E network. Taking its cues from Fat Actress (2005), Alley’s first attempt at holding down a show whose sole focus was her stagnant fat, the show follows the fallen Jenny Craig patron through the ebb and flow of a normal day in the Alley household as she contemplates the pros and cons of healthy choices and daily exercise (pro: potential weight loss; con: required effort).
But despite its absurdity, Kirstie Alley’s Big Life is entertaining and funny. The show’s colorful cast consists of one stylist, an assistant—who has her own assistant—a handyman, and Alley’s two teenage children. While watching Big Life, one gets the feeling that life in the Alley household is nothing short of an extended slumber party.
But Big Life differs from Fat Actress in the way in which Alley’s attitude toward weight loss has become more positive, and thus more conducive to results. Alley’s perspective on being fat has matured since her first series.
In Fat Actress we witnessed a bitter Ms. Alley in general decline, with depleting funds, an expired contract, and a desperate desire to be thin and in movies. This is not to say that the image of Alley approaching the end of her tether while swinging and screaming and clawing her way back to perceived beauty in Fat Actress is not funny or without comedic merit. It is also not to say that there was never a point to the countless shallow weight loss pursuits.
Kirstie Alley’s Big Life seems to offer its viewers a message of hope. After years of self-loathing and personal sabotage, Alley is learning to accept the things she cannot change while doing her best to change the things she can.