Huge: Premiere Review
Posted by CJ Cregg on June 28, 2010
So, I’m reminding myself that GREEK started as a summer show on ABC Family. I’m not expecting this show to be the next, er… big thing, but I’m keeping an open mind.
The premise is this: fat camp. Zoom in on tummies hanging over bathing suits, crocs with socks, and man boobs. We meet Willamina, or Will (played by Hairspray‘s Nikki Blonsky). Will is a nonconformist not sold on the whole ‘fat camp’ thing. In fact, she’s bent on gaining weight. The campers check into their cabins, and the counselors make sure they haven’t brought any food of any kind–even gum. The campers will be exercising for 3 or more hours a day, supervised by fitness director and six-pack wielder, Shay and her assistant, resident cute (thin) guy George.
Also in Will’s cabin is Amber (played by the perky blonde Haley Hasselhoff). She’s not nearly as fat as the others. In fact, she’s not really fat at all. Cue resentment from all the other girls. She tells her cabinmates, “I’ve been dieting since I was 10. It’s probably the thing I’m best at.” Will has, we learn, a fake bottom in her suitcase full of Doritos, candy, and chocolate. The girls start paying her for her goodies. In a small group session, we start to learn Will’s motivation for her rebellion. She refuses to hate her body.
By the evening of the first day, the
cliques start to form. When Amber starts flirting, the girls who have been to camp before tell her, “Don’t tie yourself down the first week. You could have any guy here.” She ponders the possibilities, and replies, “This is huge.” When they get back to the cabin that night, Amber already starts checking if she’s lost weight, while one of the campers wearing headgear (wince) starts doing a quiz in a trashy magazine.
The next day, their (thin) camp counselor is out of her league when she has to tell the girls they kicked out one of their cabinmates for having an eating disorder, which the camp didn’t have the resources to deal with. So then the argument starts. Were the girls right to tell on her and get her kicked out? Was it for her safety? And who snitched in the first place? (Turns out it was Amber.)
Will busts out of the place. (I’m sure sneaking out of summer camp, what with all the waivers you have to sign isn’t as easy as walking away.) At a diner she stops in, though, she gets caught by the camp director, who doesn’t stop her. Which means of course she chooses to go back to camp on her own accord. She says she’ll vow to change. What a quick change of heart.
Strangely, this show was appealing to the same pleasures that shows that the Real Housewives and America’s Next Top Model make tingle. (My TV spidey senses, so to speak.) It was pure voyeurism. Only not with beautiful and/or crazy people (who are we kidding–and–always and). Voyeurism with the fat rolls and cellulite wrinkles, and pale thighs. I couldn’t look away when Will took off her swimsuit in the opening scene. It was a weird feeling. And seeing the fat campers running in their workouts and bouncing and jiggling was also a voyeuristic pleasure because it was so disgusting. But surely this couldn’t be what ABC Family wanted me to experience during a show that they intersperse with ads about eating healthy and exercising? What am I doing wrong? Am I a bad person?
At this point in the show, though, the characters are incredibly one dimensional. Why is Will so angry? Her (potential) critique of society’s beauty standards is not articulated. And how is it possible she changed her mind so quickly in the last 4 minutes of the show when she decided to stay? Or is she still gonna try to make everyone else fat too? Is Amber anything but shallow? Also, the actors are not believable as tormented fat kids who want to change. I mean they’re fat. They’re just not good actors. I don’t like Will as a character because I don’t know anything about her or why she’s such a misanthrope. I’m not interested in sympathizing with her. ABC Family has some work to do to make this show interesting.
So is this show the next big thing? I’m thinking huge flop.