We have to admit that we were skeptical about "Dance Your Ass Off" when we first heard the concept: combine "Dancing with the Stars" (without any stars) with "The Biggest Loser." But wait, on second thought, it's brilliant! And we fell in love with the show's winner, Cirque du Soleil costume designer Ruben. Even though there's a lot less of him to love after his 90-pound weight loss, he's still one of our favorite chubby TV performers in a while.
Here's a list of some more big stars who've filled up the small screen.
For a really long time, Jim Belushi was just a poor man's John Belushi: "We need a pudgy, funny guy; get the other Belushi!" But after an incredibly hard-to-believe 27 years, Jim has fought his way out of his legendary brother's shadow, from his own stint on "SNL" to the eight-season run of "According to Jim."
You've gotta give it to "The Bachelor" producer Mike Fleiss. When it comes to reality TV dating shows, he and his partners are brilliant. They seem to get that the key to the whole reality game is casting. So when they introduced us to Luke Conley, star of the big-boned "Bachelor"-esque series "More to Love," we weren't surprised. Luke may be heavier than the typical hot tub hunk, but he could out-charm the most charming "Bachelor," from Alex Michel to Jason Mesnick.
We all know America Ferrera is by no stretch overweight (and a lot of her "Ugly Betty" image is just bad fashion), but still we love her because she seems like she would be a great friend to hang out with. She's not a skinny, blonde, perfectly tanned size zero who lives on carrot sticks and Smart Water. She's the kind of girl who'll watch TV and eat a pint of ice cream. We like that in a friend.
Jerry Ferrara's character on "Entourage" recently took on what many considered an unbelievable story line when his pudgy but lovable alter ego, Turtle, started dating "Sopranos" star Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Sigler plays her as-hot-as-always self on the show, and the ongoing joke is that Turtle shouldn't be able to get a TV star as pretty as her. So ABC reporter Dan Harris thought he was entering into safe territory during a spontaneous interview with Jamie-Lynn when he asked her if in real life she thought beautiful women "did or would date fat dudes." Sigler handled it gracefully, considering that Ferrara is her boyfriend in real life, too.
In "Drop Dead Diva" Brooke Elliott masters the craft of acting like a petite, blonde, ditzy, gorgeous model accidentally transported inside the body of a robust, brainy lawyer. Her performance every week is (as corny as it may sound) delightful to watch.
We love Lenny Clarke, mostly because he's from Boston and he reminds us of home. Sure, he was funny on "It's All Relative" and "The Job," but honestly, we kinda thought he got the good gigs because he was friends with Denis Leary. But did you see the final episode of "Rescue Me" Season 5? He deserves an Emmy for that one.
We'll be honest. We never really got Kevin James. "King of Queens" is funny, but it just never grabbed us. But do you know what did? "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." We are now officially fans of the chubby, lovable James and hope he comes back to the small screen soon so we can give him another chance. And, whenever we are sad, we remember his wise words: "Peanut butter. It fills the cracks of the heart."
Camryn Manheim was one of the first plus-size girls we remember kicking butt on TV. When we watched her on "The Practice," she taught us that a woman could be big-boned and sexy and tough-as-nails all at the same time. When she won her Emmy for "The Practice," she exclaimed, "This is for all the fat girls!" Rock on.
Who didn't love Rerun? Sure sometimes he drove Raj and Dwayne crazy, but he could bust a move and he was always there for a friend. Sadly, Fred Berry's weight got the best of him. After a lifetime struggling with diabetes, he succumbed to a stroke in 2003... but we always have "What's Happening!" reruns to bring us Rerun.
Mr. French looked like he gave a really good hug, just like our little round mother used to give. Anyone who can hug like that makes our list.
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