Monday, July 5, 2010

TV Review: Huge

There's a new program on ABC Family Channel called Huge, which is a "dramedy" about kids in a camp for overweight teens. Since I'm overweight and was once a counselor at a sleep-away arts and music camp (I taught woodwinds and was in charge of the 7-10-year-old girls), this show seemed like it would be right up my alley. I was right as I really like the program so far.

What I'm enjoying about it is that the teens featured really are overweight -- they're not "Hollywood fat" -- and are portrayed as real, three-dimensional kids, not fat stereotypes. In other words, it's not a camp filled with class clowns stuffing their faces or shy girls who stress eat. Instead, you have your usual group of jocks, bitches, pretty girls, snarky kids ... only they all happen to be chubby to morbidly obese.

The main star of the ensemble is Nikki Blonsky, whom you may recognize as Tracy Turnblad from the movie version of Hairspray. In this show, though, she's anything but sunny. She plays Will, who's surly, troubled and clearly doesn't want to be at the camp ... though you can't help but cheer for her, despite her attitude issues because you know that she has a lot going on beneath the surface. The character is just starting to open up and I'm looking forward to seeing her journey unfold.

In tonight's episode, she had one scene which really hit home for me. After being forced to play basketball -- and finding that she liked it! -- she tried to write a letter to her parents, with encouragement from the camp director. Only Will couldn't make herself send it. In it, she said, paraphrasing, that she knew that her parents wouldn't celebrate her victory, but would pat themselves on the back for knowing that the camp was good for her. She added that she knew that she was a disappointment to them and could see it in their eyes every time they made a comment about her shirt being too tight or gave her a look when she reached for dessert. She recognized that her being fat had let them down on a personal level.

Given my history with my own parents, this scene resonated with me because this is exactly how I've felt in the past -- that my size was more than a health concern for them and that they were disappointed in me for not having self control or being beautiful or taking care of myself, etc.

I think now that I'm getting older that the issues are getting somewhat resolved with my parents, but I liked that the show included a scene like this because I think that many obese kids feel this way. That said, I hope that ABC Family is living up to its name and has an audience of many teens AND parents watching together. If Huge continues to be as good as the first few episodes were, I think it could help viewers realize how complex weight problems are and how fat people are well, people, and not just statistics in the so-called "obesity epidemic."

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