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TLC

Why We Can’t Stop Binging ‘1000-lb Sisters’

The Slaton sisters captivate the masses. Those that can't get enough of the reality hit worry it won't be moving forward. Here's what to know.
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When 1000-lb Sisters debuted in 2020, not everyone expected the reality series to become such a mega-hit. Frankly, most people didn’t. Three seasons later, however, we’re still watching “the Slaton sisters” on their rollercoaster-like weight loss journeys.

Previously, TLC introduced us to comparable shows, namely, My 600 Lb Life. Episode by episode, we met various people with similar struggles, often witnessed life-changing transformations, and moved on to the next. But something about these 30-something sisters from Kentucky hit a new, more visceral nerve.

For three seasons, the primary focus has been on Amy and Tammy Slaton, who started out with a combined weight of 1000 lbs. Along with their harrowing stories, we’ve come to know the people in their lives, including Amy’s supportive husband Michael and their brother, Chris, who joined their weight loss journey and made significant strides of his own. Alongside immediate family, friends, therapists, and doctors, we’ve been given an intimate (and often unsettling) look at what a day in their lives is really like.

From start to finish, there’s something compelling about their willingness to share all of it, for better or worse. And the journey seems far from over.

What The Slaton Sisters Wanted From The Start

Going in, the goal and formula were just like the shows that came before it: they wanted to qualify for gastric bypass surgery. As the show progressed and garnered a massive audience, it became about significantly more than that. Still, surgery remained a dream and a goal. And it was one that would not only be life-changing, but life-saving.

When the Slaton sisters committed to their weight loss journeys in season 1, they were met with immediate disbelief from all around them. Amy and Tammy’s own mother was among those who said “I’ll believe it when I see it,” adding she’d “heard it all before.”

On top of that, some of the same viewers who avidly watched the series were quick to side with their mother, saying the Slaton sisters couldn’t and wouldn’t pull it off. And yet, they kept watching. To be fair, some of that immediate skepticism was rooted in the fact that they consistently broke their diet together, going to all-you-can-eat buffets and making minimal efforts to eat better. But Amy seemed to have more drive to make a change eventually. Namely, she wanted to start a family someday.

Slaton sisters in season 1 of 1000-lb sisters
TLC

The Slaton sisters called the lack of support “heartbreaking.” The silver lining of so much negativity was that it motivated them both to keep trying and prove others wrong. Early on, Amy expressed concerns her sister would give up. Then the path to lasting betterment proved anything but easy or conflict-free. Eventually, Amy started to make real progress. While she didn’t stick to doctors’ orders perfectly, Amy ultimately lost almost 140-lbs. She was advised by Doctor Proctor to wait on having children but wound up pregnant anyway. And Tammy seemed to be getting worse.

Throughout the series, Amy has notably made more strides in the right direction than Tammy, losing enough weight for surgery, becoming a mother, and doing whatever’s been within her power to help Tammy. She’s also taken a step back time and time again and said, “At what point do I get to stop helping if she won’t help herself?”

That remains one of the biggest questions fans of the show have too.

Some Goals Remain Out of Reach, Especially For Tammy

As fans know all too well, no one has struggled on 1000-lb Sisters more than Tammy. In a true catch-22, her deteriorating emotional, mental, and physical health is partially responsible for propelling the series into three seasons, each with more drama, tension, and deadly situations for Tammy than the last.

All things considered, Tammy’s ongoing struggles have led to many fans worrying that season 4 won’t happen. Tammy still doesn’t qualify for surgery, so technically, the show could continue. However, there’s growing concern that being in the public eye might be doing more harm than help. And following a family intervention of sorts in season 3, the person who seemed most fed up with all of it was Tammy herself.

Tammy rolling her eyes on 1000-lb Sisters
TLC

At her most dangerous weight, Tammy had a lot going against her. She was recovering from covid, hooked to an oxygen machine, partying, admittedly drinking a fifth of alcohol a week, smoking, vaping, and not sticking to her diet. She admitted “if I give up, I die,” but frequently voiced that she was just as ready to give up. Everyone rooting for Tammy worried she wouldn’t make it out of alive, and rightfully so.

As season 3 came to a close, Tammy said “I just don’t know how to tell people I need help.” Finally reaching rock bottom, we witnessed the first true glimmer of hope. Voicing that she needed help proved the first real step towards potentially saving her life. From there, she decided to return to rehab and finally agreed to therapy. Then, when she went into an induced coma, everyone feared the worst. Many fans even said they didn’t think it would motivate her to finally lose the weight. But they kept watching anyway.

Some People Are Watching For The Wrong Reasons

Thanks to the success of 1000-lb Sisters, Amy and Tammy are bonified reality TV stars. With fame, there’s always a backlash, and this one seems to be at an all-time high. Given the nature of their notoriety, fans aren’t always tuning in with the sisters’ best interest at heart. Right now, one camp wants to see the sisters make progress and stop fighting so much. Others are taking the opportunity to ridicule them, viewing their problems as a shocking spectacle, rather than an honest depiction of true human dilemmas.

On a grander scale, what’s too often overlooked is the unique form of representation that 1000-lb Sisters offers. It’s an eye-opening glimpse into a scarily common, too rarely discussed struggle for people, especially in America right now.

Tammy drinking two milkshakes at the same time on 1000-lb sisters
TLC

The Slaton sisters have become just as famous for their sisterly spats. Still, they stand by the fact that they’ve always been each other’s best friends. They were familiar with trolls, cold criticism, and remarks about their relationship long before signing on for the series. And they haven’t let it stop them from “telling it like it is.”

Social media is not an unusual way for reality stars to get their start. On YouTube, Amy and Tammy had already garnered millions upon millions of views prior to mainstream fame. While they shared makeup and baking tutorials, what fueled Tammy and Amy’s viral appeal was controversy early on. From the start, many fixated on the negative aspects of their lives and character, frequently leaving the cruelest comments in alarmingly casual ways. Some of their most-watched videos soon became pleas with their “haters” to show a little more compassion and kindness.

That trolling trend followed them all the way to TLC. Thousands tuned in with the desire to see them do better and found their ability to persevere inspiring. But thousands of others had a very different reaction to what they saw.

Viewers Dub The Series “Depressing,” But Keep Tuning in

On Reddit, discussions among those binging 1000-lb Sisters are ongoing and they’ve begun to evolve. When the question of “why are we watching this?” comes up, fans have long noted the obvious: an interest in the transformational aspect, a fascination with a lifestyle that’s drastically different from their own, a feeling of gratitude for their own health, and weight loss inspiration. They also voice feeling like they “know” the Slaton sisters at this point in their journeys and are eager to know what happens next, whatever that may be.

Some viewers have been discussing how the “depressing parts” that once made them “grateful” for their own well-being have started to depress them. Tammy’s lack of progress is often pinpointed as the culprit. Others say it’s the whole show in a nutshell. One user wrote, “Is there another show like 1000-lb Sisters I can watch that’s not as depressing?”

sisters talking on their porch of 1000-lb sisters
TLC

This collective feeling of woe hit an all-time high during season 3, but so did the intrigue. Fans of the series and their Youtube channels seemed torn, noting that while they adored the sisters, they were also very worried. On top of that, viewers once quick to slam the sisters for their flaws are now voicing a newfound sympathy for what Amy and Tammy continue to endure.

Despite all the fighting, people also seem to be opening their eyes to the enduring bond between them. Although, the audience seems split regarding whether their interpersonal drama is toxic or just par for the course.

Many viewers don’t like to see the worth of the Slaton sisters’ bond and hope the worst for Tammy. In fact, some people tune in to 1000-lb Sisters in hopes Amy will finally cut Tammy out of her life. While it’s true Tammy’s taken her anger out on her sister, the power of their sisterhood has always won out.

Screenrant

Fans Call Tammy a “Narcissist” and Question Her Motives

The show’s truest power still lies in depicting an unusually honest, and often unflattering, account of what it’s like to live with food addiction. The main difference in this particular struggle, of course, is that nobody can live without food. That leads to a unique, and often illuminating, set of struggles.

Forming a healthier relationship with food remains a big part of the show’s premise. With every season, it becomes that much clearer how difficult making a lasting change can really become, especially in Tammy’s case.

Tammy says "one day at a time" on 1000-lb sisters
TLC

Currently, fans of the series are calling Tammy a narcissist. On social media, some are even speculating that her conscious choice to continue leading an unhealthy lifestyle (in a life and death situation, no less) is at least in part being done with more airtime in mind. Many also wonder if TLC believes this as well, choosing to sideline the series for Tammy’s sake rather than renew it for ratings. Tammy stands by that she wouldn’t choose this life, but says she’s fully aware of the damage she’s doing.

Tammy’s family shows constant concern and the audience believes she continues taking advantage of them and their efforts. But again, she’s an admitted addict. Her behavior falls under that umbrella, and her tendency to prioritize her addiction doesn’t mean her well-being doesn’t matter to her. She’s said many times that she wants her life back, but as the vicious cycle continues, her priorities don’t seem to reflect that. In turn, figuring out what it will take to save her life remains an issue for all involved, including TLC.

The question has become: is the show actually exacerbating Tammy’s issues rather than helping her heal? Fame was always important to the sisters, after all. Hypothetically, when and if Tammy improves, will this be the end of their unprecedented run on reality TV? And when will she start prioritizing her well-being in a lasting way? Her life now depends on the answer. Not to mention, Amy has voiced wanting to focus her full attention on being a mother of two.

Will 1000-lb Sisters Make it to Season 4?

With the fate of season 4 still hanging in the balance, we may no longer be taken along for this ride. Currently, progress for Tammy continues to be up and down. During her rehab stint, she dropped an impressive 115-pounds after just one month. At the time, she was out of the spotlight. Her brother, Chris Combs, shared the news during the finale: “I’m overjoyed that she’s ready to get on this train and start rolling down the tracks.”

Per Screen Rant, “Although Amy and Tammy’s critics are effective in harping on the superficial and negative aspects of the siblings’ series, 1000-lb Sisters is, in fact, a revolutionary reality show ripe with compelling themes and inspirational stories.”

The profound light the series has shined on food addiction continues to be anything but pretty, informative, engaging, and on its best days, brimming with hope. But season 3 might prove to be the last we witness of their journey.

Tammy and Amy on a couch looking at each other
TLC

In the most vulnerable of ways, Amy and Tammy have let viewers into their lives far beyond their present-day. In turn, we’ve learned just how far back their unhealthy relationship with food really goes, and how negative public opinion has always played a part. So where do they go from here?

The stars of 1000-lb Sisters have recounted their childhood struggles and how a lack of support shaped them. Throughout the series, they’ve opened up about financial hardship in the past and present, being bullied for their weight, only having each other to lean on, and how junk food became a source of lifelong comfort. They’ve also repeatedly promised to the cameras, each other, and themselves, that they’d inevitably rise above their biggest struggles. And they haven’t always kept their word.

Still, Amy Halterman and Tammy Slaton continue using their platforms to share their stories, revealing uniquely painful truths about living with food addiction that oftentimes, not even they seem to realize. Nevertheless, is it time for the Slaton sisters to continue their journeys out of the glaring spotlight? Rumors are circulating they might be ready to move on. And if so, it might be time for the fans to let them.

Read More: Mental Health Representation in Movies and TV Shows