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.