polimicks: (Happy Yuck)
Ok, so technically I still didn't watch TV. I watched Hulu.com.

So, HUGE. HUGE is a new show on ABC Family which seems to be trying to get away from its former Christian Broadcasting Network affiliations and is trying to air some actual good shows.

I admit, I was dubious. The show takes place at a "Fat Camp." Lead character Willamina (Will, played by Nikki Blonsky of Hairspray) has been sent there against her will by parents who are disgusted by her weight. Some of the other campers are there by choice, others have also been sent. Many of them, regardless of how or why why they got there, enjoy Camp Victory, because they aren't the "fat kid" there. Everyone's fat, to varying degrees. The camp is run by Dr. Dorothy Rand (Gina Torres) who, we find out, had gone there as a teen in the 80s, and who still has some serious food issues, including stress eating and restricting.

The first two episodes are still available on Hulu, and they're good, engaging. The characters are believable, the acting's good. And the fat kids are actually fat kids. They really are heavy. No fat suits, no padding, just fat actors playing fat characters.

The first episode introduces us to the campers. Will is there against her will, and is angry and rebellious about it. She even runs away by the end of the first episode, but elects to stay in the end. Becca (Raven Goodwin), who befriends Will, was there the year before when she lost 26 pounds, but has gained it all back as she tearfully confesses to Dr. Rand. Amber (Hayley Hasselhoff) wanted to come, sticks up "thinspiration" pictures of thin models over her bed. Other characters include Chloe, who won't acknowledge her brother Alistair, who is also at the camp. And Caitlin, who is sent home at the end of the first episode, because she's been purging. We also meet Dr. Rand, her dad whom she's hired as the new cook, Shay their answer to Jillian Michaels, and Shay's assistant George who rapidly develops a crush on Amber, who's crushing right back.

The second episode is called "Letters Home" and is framed around the campers writing letters home, and Dr. Rand trying to tell her mother in email that she's hired her dad as cook. There's also a replacement for Caitlin, Dani, who winds up leaving by the end because of an anxiety disorder. Will writes a letter to her parents that she'll never send, telling them about all of the anger she has toward them and their disgust at her body. In the course of the episode she puts up "Fatspiration" pictures, to counter Amber's "Thinspiration" pics, and uses Chloe's fashion magazine to make a collage out of women's body parts that says, "Screw Body Facism."

HUGE has a lot to recommend it. The writing is excellent, and while the idea of a comedy set in a Fat Camp put me off at first glance, there is a lot of real insight going on here. From Amber saying, "I've been dieting since I was ten. It's the only thing I'm good at." Yet, there she is. To Amber watching Dani's younger sister (8 or 9 years old) looking at herself in the mirror and fretting over the size of her tummy, and from the expression on her face, you know she realizes how sick that is. Also, Will proudly identifies herself as an angry Feminist, and talks about she doesn't hate her body, nor will she.

This is not to say that I don't expect this show to go heartbreaker on me, probably caving to network pressure, and in the end Will will find out how good it is to lose weight. I'm hoping it won't happen. But we all know that network execs are the lowest form of life, next to slime mold and amoebic dysentery. So my hopes are not high.

However, I'll be watching until it does.

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October 2012

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