E! considers eating disorders TV-worthy entertainment?

Interested in watching a girl eat ant-covered food out of the garbage? Or how about a guy who continually chews and swallows entire packs of gum? Stellar entertainment, right?

It may sound like a “Fear Factor” ripoff, but it’s actually “What’s Eating You?”–the E! network’s new eating disorder reality show.

Oh boy.

The always-classy E! (“classy” as in, “I can easily name three of their resident stars who have starred in homemade sex tapes“) is promoting its new show as if it centered around a bevy of circus freaks.

Unfortunately, the “bizarre rituals” described in the network’s press release aren’t wild and wacky stunts, but just a couple of the “extreme habits” exhibited by participants on the new show.

So what the reality genre is sorely missing is an exploitative exploration of mental illness? Not really. We already have “Celebrity Rehab,” “Hoarders,” and a slew of “True Life” episodes documenting the anguish of addiction, obsession, and more. But this is about eating! And it’s on E! Surely it couldn’t be a bad idea!

Judge for yourself. Executive Producer JD Roth swears that “this show really is about the incredible fortitude and strength of people with intense obstacles to overcome, and how they strive to get their lives back on track.”

Really? Then why does the lengthy first paragraph of the press release about this show chronicle the gory details of each person’s disorder with the perverse glee of, as Hortense at Jezebel.com brilliantly asserts, “a carnival barker”? I’m surprised the statement doesn’t start with “step right up!” and go on to announce the participants alongside the bearded lady.

Hortense also points out that Roth is the same producer who brought us “The Biggest Loser,” which we’ve already told you allegedly caused one contestant to develop an eating disorder. Can we expect the same sensitive treatment for those featured on “What’s Eating You?”?

Personally, I’d like E! to stick to what it does best and exploit only the people who actually asked for it (i.e. the Kardashians of the world). Let’s leave the real issues to those actually qualified to present them tastefully.

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