Is “Huge” A Big Deal?

by Emily Rems

So far, online reactions to last night’s premiere of the new ABC Family teen fat camp series Huge are mixed—and for good reason. Created by Winnie Holzman of My So-Called Life and her daughter Savannah Dooley, the show stars Hairspray’s adorable Nikki Blonsky (right) and the gorgeous Hayley Hasselhoff (David’s daughter, left), and is being touted as the antidote to all those skinny teen ensemble shows that relegate fat girls to the margins. And while it’s undeniable that launching a scripted show completely populated by plus-sized teen characters is nothing short of revolutionary in TV land, many viewers have been asking legitimate questions like, “Why does a show about fat teens have to take place in a weight loss camp?” and “When a plus-sized woman is given a starring role, why does the part always have to revolve around her body image?”

I totally get these criticisms, and to a certain extent I agree. But as a veteran of the teen fat camp trenches myself, I’m still excited to see a show attempting to mine this bizarre-o little corner of the American landscape with humor and sensitivity. In fact, in the premiere episode, I was surprised to see many spot-on reenactments of what I remember fat camp to be like. The co-ed bathing suit weigh-in, the luggage searches for contraband, the black market candy trade, the explosion of hormones that fat teens experience when thrust into a more accepting dating pool, the barely disguised serious eating disorders—I witnessed all these and more first-hand, and was impressed with how many details the show got right.

Sure, the acting here is not the greatest. But I find that’s often true with pilot episodes in general as they struggle to get their footing. And based on what I’ve seen so far, I think Huge deserves a chance to show what else it can do. What’s your take? Is Huge A Big Deal?

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