Need a program (virtual or in-person) to empower teen girls around media messages? See our menu.

ABC Family’s “Huge” may surprise you

As promised, I tuned into Monday night’s series premiere of “Huge.” And despite all my powers of positive thinking (It’s written by Winnie Holzman! It stars a Golden Globe-nominated actress! It couldn’t be worse than anything else aired on ABC Family!), I was skeptical.

I mean, seriously? Overweight teenagers don’t feel ostracized enough? Now they need to be specifically segregated in a prime-time melodrama that could potentially incite audiences to laugh at, not with, the central characters?

Okay, so maybe my snap judgments shouldn’t come from a place jaded by years of destructive media consumption.

“Huge” isn’t necessarily what I thought it would be. Sure, it centers on the lives of teens and staffers at a weight-loss camp. And yes, the opening scene does involve Nikki Blonsky in a grandiose burlesque, revealing her (gasp!) cellulite in all its swimsuit-clad glory. But whatever fears I had of the show poking fun at the plus-size characters were essentially eliminated by the end of the hour.

While this isn’t the second coming of My So-Called Life,” “Huge” has more to offer than its marketing campaign would indicate. The ubiquitous image of Blonsky awkwardly and apologetically clutching her abdomen in yet another swimsuit on the show’s promo posters is not at all indicative of her character, Willamena.

Blonsky plays Will as a confident, conflicted and complex teenager. Hayley Hasselhoff is just as compelling to watch as the camp’s resident hot girl, Amber, and Gina Torres’s role as camp director Dorothy Rand is far more profound than the stereotypical evil dictator she appears to be at the first episode’s onset. Add in sure-to-be teen heartthrob Zander Eckhouse as fitness trainer George (the real-life son of “Beverly Hills 90210” legendary dad, James Eckhouse, a.k.a. Jim Walsh), and the cast proves to be pretty solid.

Overall, yes, “Huge” can veer into sappy territory (this is ABC Family, remember?), but it doesn’t take away from the show’s appeal. And more importantly, this isn’t an offensive exploration of weight (“Starved,” anyone?) or a corny PSA promoting sensitivity toward heavy teens. It’s just a decent show that handles a potentially touchy subject with grace and humor.

Ugh, great. Thanks a lot, “Huge.” Now I have yet another show to DVR every week.


— Michelle Konstantinovsky is a student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and an avid admirer of shiny objects and preteen entertainment. It would be nice if you visited her website: www.michellekmedia.com. Also, she may learn to use Twitter more effectively if you follow her @michelley415.

8 thoughts on “ABC Family’s “Huge” may surprise you

  1. I loved the scene where she’s dealing food out of the bathroom. So messed up but so funny! Too bad the only character who is comfortable with her body is kind of mean and spiteful though.

  2. Michelle and the gang…shall we keep this convo going into next week and beyond and see how things evolve?
    The next few episodes show a lot more heart than the pilot…but happy to see your thoughtful analysis on this…I think as media educators and Actionsts we have walk a fine line between being skeptical and being open minded.

    At least that’s what I remind myself of every single day… 🙂

  3. I was surprisingly pleased with the show. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be incentive or overly PC, but I thought the show was very conscious of their overweight viewers and acknowledged issues that are their reality such as insecurity in a bathing suit. I think the main character Will is going to be an essential piece in the difficult task of encouraging accepting your body as it is. I am very curious to see how the show progresses and how it will handle accepting your body while the characters are encouraged to lose weight at this weight loss camp.

  4. ABC Family is loving it as much as the fans and just this morning upped the first season episode order to 22—that’s 12 more hours of Pretty Little Liars …

Comments are closed.