HUGE – TV for the Obesity Generation

A potentially interesting new show is premiering tonight on the ABC Family network.

Based on a young adult novel by Sasha Paley, Huge stars Hairspray‘s Nikki Blonsky as Wil (short for Wilhelmina), an angry teen banished to fat camp.

According to the promo material, Wil enters Camp Victory resolved to gain whatever weight her parents hope her to lose because, as she informs head mistress Dr. Rand ( Gina Torres), she is “down with my fat … my fat and I are BFFs.”

…her…and her fat…are BFFs…..

…me…and my eyes…rolled…and dismissed this show as one of those olde fashioned movies of the week where the moral of the story is that everybody is perfect in their own unique and special way and…blech.

But then, I read that the show was developed by Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life). And as much as teenage girl angst tv shows have never been my particular cup of tea, I remember that My So-Called Life was admired by critics & fans alike during it’s run in the 90s.

So, I read a few more reviews.

According to the LA Times:

“Huge” creators Savannah Dooley and Winnie Holzman ( “My So-Called Life”) do not judge fat kids, but neither do they over-sentimentalize them. A panoply of personalities comes together at Camp Victory, proving that fat is only a physical description, and the writers take their time establishing character and story.

Will comes out of the box with standard-issue defiance, but eventually she emerges as neither rebel nor its typical antithesis, defensive victim. She and all the other characters are somewhere in between, actual people, girls and boys, who, for a variety of reasons, have developed a pattern of self-soothing and self-delusion that has pushed them into obesity.

If nothing else, “Huge” proves that big kids — the ones normally relegated to third banana in a teen or tween comedy — can act. The performances range from solid to downright inspired, and Blonsky has no trouble carrying early episodes.

The New York Times said:

Purely as a visual, “Huge” is remarkable for its presentation of a cast of teenagers, none of whom are skinny or conventionally beautiful, and for the deftly detailed rendering of the ritual humiliations of imposed weight loss. But in truth the series can go only so far because a real sanctioning of teenage obesity would feel like a renewed condoning of the subprime mortgage market. Will is by no means a happy girl; she longs for parental approval, and implicitly we understand that if she had it, she wouldn’t be fighting the world one pint of ice cream at a time. Ultimately the message that only the discontented plunge their spoons ever deeper into the sundae remains intact.


Now I’m conflicted.

  1. I still don’t like teenage girl angst tv shows, but
  2. I am intrigued by a show about childhood obesity that goes beyond “eat less & move more”

So, I guess I will be watching tonight.

Review to follow.


  1. I for one am very stoked to read this. I really like the idea. I agree and am not down with teenage angst. But I also think that its about time that hollywood stops trying to push this unreasonable image that people can’t achieve. Perhaps if people were less focused on looking good (ie weighing less) they would have more energy to focus on their health. I think this is a distinct difference but important difference. Think shot putters or powerlifters. I bet they are healthy but imagine if they focused their efforts into wanting to be thin. Im very happy. Can you tell?

  2. HUGE – TV for the Obesity Generation | Health and Fitness – Health Habits | Hive Health Media Blog Network says:

    […] HUGE – TV for the Obesity Generation | Health and Fitness – Health Habits. […]

  3. As a society our living and eating habits have changed significantly over the last twenty to thirty years. We have been steadily increasing our collective belt due to increasing waist circumferences or gut fat. Many questions have been raised as to how we should best tackle this major social health issue, with premature deaths, chronic disease and widespread obesity continuing to increase.
    What you may have heard or guessed is that it comes down to good nutrition, increasing and maintaining an appropriate level of activity and reducing your waist or staying lean. The general rule is pretty simple: “what goes in must come out”. So we need to manage our energy consumption from food and ensure that we burn the energy we consume &/or store through activity and exercise. Additionally we have heard that exercise reduces the risk of dying from certain lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Recently we have heard that being physically inactive is more likely to cause health problems than being overweight.
    This is where the debate begins. Some areas of the research community have put forward the idea of accepting that some level of fatness may be okay for our health – as long as we work out how to balance the problems that occur as a result of the increased fat. Exercise that increases our fitness may be just the thing to improve our health and thus reduce our risk to lifestyle related diseases.
    Recent studies into the benefits of physical activity, fitness, weight loss and metabolic risk have found the following for those who are overweight or obese (in order of greatest benefit):
    1. If you’re fit and get lean you get the greatest reduction in risk
    2. Achieving a moderate level of fitness will only reduce your risk if you are lean
    3. If you don’t lose any weight there is no additional benefit between moderately and highly fit
    4. If you can’t exercise but lose weight you still get some protection but not as much as improving your fitness as well.
    5. If you’re overweight and unfit then you have the greatest risk
    It appears that if excess fat is present, then fitness will blunt the negative effects of the body’s response to the excess energy (the fat). However the key word in this debate is “blunt”. The health effects from exercise alone can’t deal with the overload on the system, especially in today’s environment of excess. There needs to be some change in what’s coming in as well as what’s going out in order to get the best protection of all.
    Therefore it’s not the argument of fit versus fat that is as important as whether or not we are active along with achieving exercise that will increase our fitness. Being active and combining this with exercise, increases your fitness.

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