One Big Happy Family

One Big Happy Family
One Big Happy Family
Genre Reality television
Starring The Coles family
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 17
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) RDF USA
Original channel TLC
Original run December 29, 2009 (2009-12-29) – present
External links

One Big Happy Family is an American reality television series featuring the Coles family, an African-American family of four who reside in Indian Trail, North Carolina. The series premiered on TLC on December 29, 2009. The show deals with their family life and with their efforts to lose weight (each family member, at the initial episode, weighed in excess of 330 pounds).


Coles family

The numbers in parentheses are the age and weight of each family member when the first episode aired.

  • Tameka Coles - (36, 380) Mother of Amber and Shayne and wife of Norris. She works two jobs that leave her little time to get any exercise. She tells the viewers that she began to gain weight after giving birth to Amber and Shayne.
  • Norris Coles - (41, 340) Father of Amber and Shayne and husband of Tameka. He is mainly a stay-at-home parent, though he buys and sells garage sales items for profit.
  • Amber Coles - (17, 348) Amber is the older of the two children. She is a member of the flag corps at her high school.
  • Shayne Coles - (14, 336) Shayne is the younger of the two children. He is introverted and has few friends in school.

About One Big Happy Family

Meet the Coles, a close-knit family of four dealing with life as a morbidly obese household. Weighing in at a collective 1,400 pounds, each episode follows the family on their journey of self-improvement -- chronicling everything from their everyday struggles to the larger picture of why they overeat -- as they attempt to lose weight to ultimately save their family from dire health complications. This six-part series profiles the Coles, a close-knit family of four dealing with life as a morbidly obese household. Weighing in at a collective 1,400 pounds, each half-hour episode follows the family on their journey of self-improvement -- chronicling everything from their everyday struggles to the larger picture of why they overeat -- as they attempt to lose weight to ultimately save their family from dire health complications.

Obesity rates are at an all time high in America, and the Coles are part of the growing epidemic. The same rituals that have strengthened their family bond -- such as cheerful family gatherings around the kitchen table and hilarious "truth nights" over cheesecake -- have enabled the bad behaviors responsible for their size. With Mom, Dad, daughter and son each weighing in at well over 300 lbs., the Coles are reminded daily that they literally do not fit in, as everyday situations such as buckling a seatbelt and sitting in a restaurant booth are challenging. But, as big as they are, their love for each other is even bigger -- and when one of the family members is diagnosed with a life threatening health issue, the family unites to change their lifestyle for good.

With a healthy dose of humor and love, ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY spotlights the Coles as they pull together as a family to tackle the patterns that are keeping them overweight. Without the help of a nutritionist or personal trainer, the family has only each other to rely on to drop the pounds. It's a long and emotional process full of trial and error and late night "cheats," but through it all, they have each other. No matter what obstacles they encounter or how embarrassing a situation may be, the Coles continue to motivate one another and are determined to accomplish their goal of attaining a healthier lifestyle as a family.[1]

The Coles appear candid about their thoughts on their weight – which ranged from 300 to 400 pounds among the mother, father and two children – sincere about their desire to create a healthier lifestyle and disappointing though relatable when they falter, whether through funnel cakes or sugary frozen drinks.

Still the show has kicked up a storm of controversy and criticism from some watchers who say TLC is exploiting the family.

The cameras follow the family dealing with weight and health on their own – without help from trainers or nutritionists, which critics say separate it from other weight transformation shows like “The Biggest Loser.”

Twenty-nine percent of North Carolina residents are obese, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, many of whom also don’t have personal trainers pushing them through day-long workouts a la Jillian Michaels.

More than 35 percent of the state’s black residents, like the Coles, are obese, which has a greater prevalence in the South and Midwest.

Obesity is a significant challenge nationally and one that has grown sharply in the past couple of decades.


TLC has renewed its reality show "One Big Happy Family" for a super-sized second round.

The network has picked up 12 episodes of the show from RDF USA, double the first-season order.

"Obesity is an epidemic in America, so it's no surprise that viewers fell in love with the Coles family as they began their weight loss journey," said Mike Duffy, senior vp at RDF USA. "With four different perspectives, every viewer has someone they can relate to but, ultimately I think people root for them because they're refreshingly sweet, funny and honest."

The series, a docu-drama about an obese family of four that weigh a collective 1,400 pounds, premiered in December. Its second season is expected to debut in June.[2]

Series Overview and Episodes

Series Overview

Season Episodes Season Premiere Season Finale
1 6 December 29, 2009 (2009-12-29) January 12, 2010 (2010-01-12)
2 11 June 1, 2010 (2010-06-01)

Season 1[3]

Ep # Total Title Airdate
1 1 "Troubling News" December 29, 2009 (2009-12-29)
We are introduced to the Coles family. The first scenes show them feasting without inhibition before the camera, enjoying large meals of rich "comfort food" around the dining-room table. Then they visit a water park, hoping, Tameka says, to get some exercise. While there, after enjoying several rides and slides, they discover that they cannot ride a "tunnel" slide because they exceed the allowed weight (a combined 400 pounds for a minimum of two people). They console themselves with several servings of sugary funnel cake. At a doctor's appointment, accompanied by the family, Shayne learns some troubling news about his blood sugar: it is too high, and if he doesn't lose weight, he's told, he can expect to develop Type II diabetes. 
2 2 "We Must Change" December 29, 2009 (2009-12-29)
Tameka and Shayne are anxious to start getting in shape, while Amber and Norris are not. Visits to the family's various doctors disclose that everyone is in danger of complications if he or she doesn't lose weight. Norris has a fit while Shayne throws away groceries that Norris just bought the day before. Everyone realizes that they all must start exercising and eating healthier. 
3 3 "Yard Sale" January 5, 2010 (2010-01-05)
Tameka orders the family to gather up all their surplus junk for a yard sale. Tameka wants to price all the items cheap to sell fast; however, Norris wants to sell his items (which he bought at other yard sales in hopes of making a tidy profit) at higher prices. The night before the yard sale, Tameka shows how little she knows about "cooking healthy" when she must toss out a pan of skinless chicken breasts, then expects the family to dine solely on the broccoli she has boiled to go with it. Most of the broccoli goes uneaten. The next day, Norris drives customers away with his high-pressure sales tactics. One customer audaciously calls Shayne fat to his face; Tameka tells him off. The family does manage to collect more than a hundred dollars from the sale, and the items that did not sell are loaded up for donation to Goodwill. 
4 4 "I Love You All Over Again" January 5, 2010 (2010-01-05)
Norris never proposed to Tameka because she was the one to give him an ultimatum when their children were already six and four years old: marry her or leave. So he married her. He always felt bad about not properly proposing to her. Norris asks his children to help him write out a proposal, and this inspires the kids to write a rap about how great their mother is. Norris and the kids surprise Tameka at a friend's house and she is reminded how much she is loved. Inadvertent comedy is supplied when Amber breaks her chair, but even Shayne empathizes instead of making fun of her. 
5 5 "Camping" January 12, 2010 (2010-01-12)
The family decides to go on a camping trip, riding in an RV because it is a new experience and they aren't sure they're ready to "rough it" as such. Shayne brings his friend Tyler along with them; his slender size makes it obvious he's not one of the family. They prove to be unready to "rough it" when they begin the night outside, but the bugs and night sounds scare them back into the RV. Amber sprains her ankle climbing an artificial rock formation. 
6 6 "Family Portrait" January 12, 2010 (2010-01-12)
Tameka, in charge as always, decides a family portrait is in order to show how far they've come in weight loss already and to show how much farther they'll have come later on. She and Amber go shopping for clothes for the picture and both mother and daughter are gratified to see that each has dropped several sizes. Shayne and his father need new clothes, too, and when they go shopping, Tameka goes along, ordering not just the fourteen-year-old but her husband to dress as Mama dictates. By the time of the actual trip to the photographer, the members of the family are barely speaking to each other, but ultimately the excursion goes well. 

Season 2

Ep # Total Title Airdate
1 7 "Amber's First Love" June 1, 2010 (2010-06-01)
The Coles come back to kick start the season with a new and improved outlook on life. Tameka decides this is the perfect time to have a dinner party and invites family and friends. Amber introduces her new love and everyone has an opinion about him. 
2 8 "Frills and Bills" June 1, 2010 (2010-06-01)
Tameka looks for a new career, so the family helps her out with her interviewing skills. Meanwhile, Norris and Shayne have trouble with the car, and Amber is on the hunt for the perfect prom dress. 
3 9 "Amber and Tameka's Dance Class" June 8, 2010 (2010-06-08)
Norris and Tameka worry that Amber and Shayne's weight loss efforts have hit a plateau. When a trip to the doctor's office confirms their fears, Norris and Tameka must think outside the box to inspire and motivate the kids into working out more. 
4 10 "Babies and Big Rigs" August 3, 2010 (2010-08-03)
Tameka is looking for a new career at a truck driving school. Amber and Shayne visit their friend who recently had a baby, and when they come home, their parents want to have a talk with them about the birds and the bees. 
5 11 "Getting on the Right Path" August 3, 2010 (2010-08-03)
Tameka wants to revamp the backyard and wants the family to construct a weight loss monument. However, when the time comes for the Coles to execute their project, they realize it is going to be much harder than they anticipated. Also, Tameka and Norris have a night out together. 
6 12 "The Coles Go To Washington" TBA
The Coles take a trip to their hometown of Washington, D.C., which causes Norris to reflect on his past, present and future. Also, Amber finally gets to see the prom dress that grandmother made for her. 
7 13 "Crab Cakes in the Capitol" TBA
The Coles continue their stay in Washington, D.C., and Tameka revisits her past with a stop at her former job and a fishing trip. The vacation ends with the family having a Cheat Day, in which they indulge on crab cakes. 
8 14 "Norris Knows Best?" TBA
Norris gives Amber some dating advice. Also, he buys a new car for the family. 
9 15 "Amber and Shayne's Dinner Disaster" TBA
Amber and Shayne enroll in a cooking class, hoping to learn some healthful recipes. Meanwhile, Tameka and Norris attempt ballroom dancing. 
10 16 "Amber Meets David" TBA
Amber finally meets her online boyfriend in person when he flies with his mother to North Carolina to go to prom with Amber. 
11 17 "Amber's Bittersweet Prom" TBA
Amber attends her high-school prom with her online boyfriend, David, but their time together is bittersweet, since he'll soon have to head home to Missouri. 

Home Media

Season One was released on DVD for a limited time and is no longer available from TLC.


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