Fat Camp Comes to TV on 'Huge'

Teens battle obesity on the new ABC Family drama about transformations that are more than just physical

Summer’s here, and camp is a rite of passage for many American kids. ABC Family has decided to take it on in their new summer series, Huge, which premieres tonight (9 p.m. EST). But this isn’t just any old summer getaway -- the kids enrolled tackle weighty issues. Yep, Camp Victory is a fat camp.

The series stars Nikki Blonsky (2007’s Hairspray) as feisty, blue-haired Will, an unhappy camper if ever there was one. The overweight teen is decidedly comfortable in her own skin -- “Me and my fat are like BFFs,” she announces -- so she’s upset that her parents have shipped her off to a weight-loss camp to drop pounds. There, she contends with the likes of hardly-heavy Amber, played by David Hasselhoff’s daughter Hayley Hasselhoff, who claims the title of the prettiest girl at camp and has a crush on uber-hot (and so-not-fat) counselor George, played by Zander Eckhouse (son of Beverly, Hills 90210 star Jim Eckhouse, who played Brenda and Brandon Walsh's dad).

Produced by My So-Called Life co-creator Winnie Holzman and her daughter, Savannah Dooley, and based on writer Sasha Paley’s 2007 teen tome, the show has the same multidimensional characterization beloved by fans of the short-lived '90s classic that made Claire Danes a star. It's another deft teen drama about the underdog, in this case, “fat” kids -- but the show realizes there are many different ways to be that kind of outcast.

And while the episodes take place at fat camp, the show doesn’t belabor the issue. Yes, the teens are there to explore body image and all the stress that comes along with it. And certainly, in this era of childhood obesity fears when our First Lady actively urges families to eat healthier and exercise more, the premise of the series will likely resonate. But really, the focus is on transformation -- something that doesn’t just happen physically. All the campers (and grown-ups, too) bring other issues to the table, like popularity struggles and family dramas. They’re normal, everyday kids with an added layer of pressure because of their weight. Which, when you think about it, is groundbreaking for TV, where anyone bigger than a size 6 is often considered plus-sized.

Perhaps the show, along with predecessors like Drop Dead Diva and the refreshing Hot In Cleveland, starring Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli and other TV vets, marks a change in how TV is depicting the lives of real women. Maybe it's another step forward for women to create a show reminding other women that we're more than what we look like . At the very least, that’s the message Huge hopes to deliver.

Have you ever known kids who attended a fat camp to lose weight? Chime in below!

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