Some statistics to start. These ‘shock docs’ tend to start with a lot of statistics. I think it makes them feel like they’re some sort of educational programme rather than what they are - which is an electronic version of a Victorian freak show.
So, the statistics:
- Americans are so fat that they have now had to create a whole new category of fatness – Super Morbidly Obese.
Which must make people merely categorised as ‘Morbidly Obese’ pretty chipper, and straighforward ‘fat bastards’ positively incandescent with wobbly joy.
- Kenneth Brumley Lives in Houston, Texas and weighs 73 stone. That’s around 1000 pounds. Or, more appropriately, 4000 quarter-pounders.
- Kenneth’s food intake is around 30,000 calories a day. Which is about what a human consumes in two weeks.
- Kenneth plans to shed a mere 50 stone and it took 7 burly firemen to remove him from his front room to the hospital.
(Tree-dwelling cats and randy , female alcoholic divorcees across the greater Houston area were said to be furious with jealousy and immediately went on an eating spree).
- If you want to picture Kenneth, he makes Mr Creosote look like Amy Winehouse in drag.
That’s my own statistic, but I throw it in for the reader’s interest.
There are loads of stats like this peppered throughout the show but you get the idea: ‘Boy, will you look at this fat bastard. But kindly do so in a caring medical-type-of-way, if you please.’
The show also introduced us to 19-year-old Billy. And wheras Kenneth seemed like a well-balanced and likeable guy who had the support of his loving family around him, not so with Billy. His mother, no Posh Spice herself, was obviously what they call in the business, an ‘enabler’ (oh yes, I picked up a few tips from the show).
You really had to feel for this poor young guy though. At 19, he should have been out getting drunk and rejected by girls and developing a brooding unhealthy misogyny which would one day blossom into some sort of writing career – like the rest of us. Instead, he was stuck in a pre-fab, eating and shitting with the support of his mother.
Cut back to Kenneth, who is in hospital and in 40 days has lost 12 stones. Fair play to the guy. Only now can surgery safely be performed. And he has two enormous mounds of fat, each weighing around 12 stone, carved from between his thighs and hefted into medical waste bags. (These are then, I supect, rushed to the nearest fast food outlet and sold as ‘chicken’. But I can’t be absolutely sure on that one. They may have been sold as ‘recovered meat’ as I know the labelling guidelines on such things are quite strict nowadays).
Anyway, you get the general idea. Both Billy and Kenneth go on a ‘Journey’ as they love to say on telly. Not an actual journey, of course. Do me a favour.
There were also, inevitably, moments of unintended humour in the voiceover, which wasn’t helped by it being performed by the excellent Alison Steadman. She has flawless comedy timing with every word she utters, whether she tries to or not. So when she delivered lines like, ‘Billy’s legs can still carry him. But rarely further than the bathroom’ and ‘ It’s now a month since Kenneth’s failed attempt to sit upright’ I have to admit I was on the floor.
I had very mixed feeling about going anywhere near this sort of show. I’ve always avoided these type of documentaries in the past for their obvious salaciousness. But as I watched and was swept along by the ‘journey’ I started to really quite like Kenneth. He seems like a decent man who, despite his appalling circumstances, appears still to have maintained his dignity.
And I liked Kenneth’s family. I started to really warm to these genuine, straightforward people. But then came the bombshell. Whilst her father was in hospital having bits the size of Arkansas removed from his body, Kenneth’s daughter was busy feeding her 9-month-old baby a hamburger. At which point I dried my teary eyes, went online and ordered a pump-action shotgun and a flight to Texas.
By the way, Kenneth eventually lost 35 stone by finally having a gastric band inserted. I believe a Gastric Band is something like an Indie band, but not nearly so unpleasant. Unfortunately, I’ve no idea what happened to Billy as my Windows Media Player stopped recording at that point, with probably two minutes to go. Luckily, I can update you on Friday when I fly over there and blow his mother’s evil fucking head off.