“Survival of the Half Ton Teen” is a continuation of “Half Ton Teen about then-18-year-old Billy Robbins who, since birth, has been treated like a baby by his mother Barbara.
Barbara’s first son died at 19 months, and the devastation crippled her ability to properly care for her second son, Billy, and as a result, Billy’s weight reached nearly half a ton by the time he was a teen — 18.
Billy Robbins’ life for the several years preceding had consisted of sleeping, eating, watching TV and playing video games, and maybe some reading. Mother Barbara waited on him hand and foot, feeding him incessantly, keeping him reduced to an infantile state — a guarantee that she’d never lose her second baby. But she WAS losing the Half Ton Teen: to morbid obesity. Finally, Barbara checked Billy into Houston’s Renaissance Hospital where he underwent stomach-shrinking surgery.
The Half Ton Teen was released from the hospital, and at home, was unable to make it from the car to the house. Panicking, he claimed he couldn’t breathe. Barbara had Billy taken back to the hospital where he stayed a while, and upon release, weighed around 560 pounds. However, Billy still looked like a half ton teen, though his walking had improved.
Home a second time from the hospital, the Half Ton Teen, along with his mother, fell back into old patterns: Barbara was his servant, giving Billy no reason to do anything for himself. His world revolved around a large-screen TV and video games. He was either asking his mother for food, water, or to get a game from Blockbuster. The psychology here was so obvious.
On one hand, Billy’s mother kept griping about how her son had to learn to do things for himself. Next minute, she was getting him things, even bringing him a hot dog when he arrived home from the hospital the second time. Billy Robbins was spending his life in bed, at around 540 pounds (according to his mother), but living life exactly as he had as the Half Ton Teen.
Billy’s father, Billy Senior, came across as even more spineless than Barbara, a deadbeat of a man who was too cowardly to ever step up to the plate and take charge of his family. Both of Billy Robbins’ parents
are obese. As I watched “Survival of the Half Ton Teen,” I kept thinking, “Well Barbara, if you want your son to become independent and do things for himself, STOP DOING THINGS FOR HIM!”
Give Billy a reason to get out of bed instead of telling him to get out of bed! Barbara could have placed the remote control across his room which would have forced him out of bed to get it.
She could have brought him water and food and set it, again, across the room. Or better yet, told him, “If you want water or your snack, it’s on the kitchen counter.”
Billy Robbins had been trained, since childhood, to live the existence of a baby, and had no concept of what the outside world had to offer; no career aspirations; no desire to go on dates; dance; socialize; or even play with the family dog.
This was all Barbara’s fault for training him to be completely dependent upon her for everything except breathing.
Towards the end of “Survival of the Half Ton Teen,” Barbara finally snaps, seated across from Billy while he, as usual, lies in bed. She erupts into a verbal tirade about how he needs to get up and walk and do things for himself. She threatens that if, after one week, he hasn’t gotten out of bed to walk, she will remove the TV from his room.
While Barbara is ranting, Billy pipes up and argues back, claiming that 540 pounds is still too heavy to get out of bed, and half sobbing as he argues back; at that point, he’s 20 years old.
After the commercial break, we return to see Billy Robbins walking around outside while Barbara relaxes in a chair. Billy is shown walking about inside the house as well, even preparing food at the kitchen counter, and physically looking a little lighter, though at that point, he still weighs more than 500 pounds. Barbara comments that Billy even pitches in with a little housework, and that it’s time for her to show him how to use a new vacuum cleaner.
“Survival of the Half Ton Teen” needs additional TLC follow-ups. The Billy Robbins case is the worst case of ultra morbid obesity I have ever seen on TLC (and believe me, I watch all of these kinds of shows), in that his psychological makeup seems to be irreversibly damaged by his mother’s molding him into an infantile way of thinking, even though Billy has normal intelligence.
So even as the weight continues to come off, I have to wonder if, despite increased mobility, Billy Robbins will remain crippled psychologically, unable to formulate goals, unable to socialize with other young adults,
unable to grasp the concept of furthering his education and setting his sights on some plans and landmarks for his future.
Remember, he’s been a product of a destructive environment for 18 years; it’s going to take a mountain to reverse the damage that his mother created in him.