My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman is back with Huge, a new show for ABC Family about teens at fat camp. Holzman’s daughter, Samantha Dooley had originally penned the series as a TV movie. When the network wanted to turn it into a series instead, Dooley’s creative partner was no longer available, so she decided to do the project with her television pioneer mother. The project stars Hairspray‘s Nikki Blonsky, which promises to offer a more realistic and less slapstick-y look at overweight teens.
Are you groaning? So was I. As someone who was a chubby kid, a fat teen and now a chubby twenty-something, I am always wary of the two brands of fat portrayal on television: the wise-crackin’ crying shoulder (Sookie on Gilmore Girls) and the tragic cautionary whale (Carmen on Popular). The part I dislike the most, though, is that there never seemed to be any happy medium between skinny and huge: chubby is almost never an area that TV knows what to do with, needing instead to rush to extremes to make their point.
The show opens with orientation day at “Camp Victory,” a summer camp for overweight teens. The teens are all photographed and weighed while in bathing suits, which had me very cautiously pessimistic about the tone this show was striking at the outset. So, naturally, the first line, uttered by Nikki Blonski, is: “Can we, like, take a moment and just ponder how sick this is? Just get a bunch of … fat kids, stick them in bathing suits and add cameras.”
Blonski’s newfound wise black friend (unfortunately that stereotype remains in place), tries to convince her that this can be a great place for hooking up with guys. When a cute heavy guy eyes up a cute heavy girl, Wise Black Friend admits, “Okay, I guess it’s not that different from the real world.”
Can I just say that I do love the fact that this show — from the outset — acknowledges my first fear, and then goes on to admit that, even at fat camp, there will be hierarchies? Because you know there would be.
Gina Torres takes on the Sue Sylvester-esque role as the camp counsellor, but — spoiler alert! — she has a heart of gold. There is also a Jillian Michaels-like drill sergeant, an uber-peppy dorm mother and a “dreamy” male coach.
While I enjoyed the first episode, the show is littered with a number of stereotypes that had me initially worried, like the fact …
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