Judge Brett Cullum thinks fat camp should be for everybody.
At fat camp, even the drama is huge.
Huge debuted on ABC Family in the summer of 2010, a series about the trials and tribulations of ten teens at a fat camp. It was based on a popular book for young adults, and it looked at obesity without a comic filter or a reality competition to soften the blow. For a cable show it didn't do too badly with almost two million viewers regularly tuning in, but it only lasted one season with no extra episodes ordered. That's a nice way to say "it was canceled after one year" because it cost more than what it brought in, and was probably replaced with a cheap to produce reality show. So now we get "The Complete Series" released on three DVDs showcasing the ten shows that aired. What a pity this is all there is, because Huge was a nice show with an important message. It starred Nikki Blonsky (2007's Hairspray) as Willamena Rader, a precociously smart yet overweight girl who is sent to "fat camp." She bonds with her fellow campers, but seems hellbent on stirring up a whole mess of trouble too. Hayley Hasselhoff (yes, the daughter of "the Hoff") appeared as the pretty, heavy girl. Raven Goodwin (The Station Agent) and Gina Torres (Firefly) are some other familiar faces who surfaced in the series as well.
Huge was the perfect "anti-CW" answer to all those vapid series about pretty and wealthy teenagers fumbling through life while cool indie rock plays in the background. It wasn't the escapist fantasy of Gossip Girl or 90210, but rather something more grounded in truth. This was a show about guys and girls who are overweight and of middle class means. It feels painfully real as we walk through the torture of trying to discover yourself in an awkward situation. Summer camp is tough for any teen, but throw in a weight loss angle and the heartache is amplified. The drama comes from a very believable place, and for young adults it's an empowering message about beauty coming from the inside rather than a number on a scale. The series dealt with some very tough topics such as eating disorders, sexuality, interracial dating, and dating age differences with minors and adults.
Technically the picture looks fine. The show itself uses practical lighting and often "day for night" shots, so it can appear dark at times. It's not shot for high definition really, and so DVD seems to suit this one just fine. It's not a glossy big network effort, and that smaller scale goes nicely with the larger message. Sound is delivered through either a full surround track or simple stereo. There are no digital artifacts, and flesh tones look spot-on throughout.
The supplements are great, and offers fans a chance to go inside the making of the show through some pretty solid extras. Episode commentaries are provided for the pilot episode and two others. Savannah Dooley, Winnie Holzman, Kim Rozenfeld, and Paul Dooley talk over the shows providing a producer and writer commentary. It seems a shame we don't get to hear the actors, but these guys know the ins and outs of the production. Also included in the set are featurettes which include cast interviews, a blooper reel, two segments looking at the songs produced for the series, deleted scenes, and two spoofs they did for the series that are like Twilight and a fat version of The Bachelor.
I really enjoyed Huge because it felt so painfully truthful and honest. Television seems to rarely show teens for who they truly are, and this one gets it right. It's set at a "fat camp," but there's such a universal feeling to what the kids go through that it could be anywhere. I'm also glad that Huge gets a nice release for its single season with plenty of extras for the fans. The audio commentaries and other supplements take us through what it was like to work on the show, and they add a lot to experience. The cast is strong, the writing is insightful, and it was a nice show that got canceled too soon. It's good to have it here on DVD.
Guilty of understanding how hard it is to be a teen in a world that demands perfection.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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