Monday, June 28, 2010

TV alert: ABC Family's "Huge" premieres tonight

A new show is premiering tonight at 9 p.m. EST on ABC Family, called "Huge." I haven't seen anything more than a one-minute promo for this show (below), and I don't know if it's going to be good, but I think it will be worth watching just for the premise and to see how it's handled. (Plus, one of the executive producers is Winnie Holzman, who wrote and was co-executive producer of "My So-Called Life," which is one of my most favorite TV shows ever in the history of TV. Also, every episode of that show is available on Hulu, and if you've never seen it go now and watch it. Forget the rest of this blog post. Seriously, go now, go.)

Here is the description of "Huge" from the show's site:
Funny, heartbreaking and provocative, Huge follows the lives of seven teens and the staff at a weight-loss camp, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other.

In Huge, Nikki Blonsky will portray Willamina, a teen whose sardonic and rebellious nature make her a menace to some and revolutionary to others. Additional cast include Zander Eckhouse as George, Harvey Guillen as Alistair, Ari Stidham as Ian, Ashley Holliday as Chloe and Hayley Hasselhoff as Amber.

Huge, based on author Sasha Paley's book of the same name from Alloy Entertainment, is being developed by Winnie Holzman (Wicked, My So-Called Life, Once & Again) and daughter Savannah Dooley. Holzman will serve as executive producer as will Kim Rozenfeld (American High), while Dooley will serve as producer on the series. Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy (Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries), will also serve as executive producers; Robin Schiff (Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion and ABC Family’s 10 Things I Hate About You) will serve as a consulting producer.
I'm very curious to see how the show handles body image and weight loss and (possibly?) eating disorders on top of the "regular" things about being young. I know the idea that they're at "fat camp" might seem like too much. Like, of course they're at fat camp, because every person who is deemed as overweight has to lose weight, because that's what society says, and the only way we can have plus-size people on TV is if they are shown to be working toward losing weight. I realize that could be problematic, but I have faith that the team making this show is going to get more right than they will wrong. Also, I have not read the book this is based on, has anyone else? Thoughts on it?

TV Guide has an interview with Holzman; I love these two answers from her: How much did you base the characters on real-life experiences?
It couldn't be more personal. Just like My So-Called Life, people would say, "Is this personal?" and I would say, "Yeah," but it wasn't like that was me and that was my mother. It wasn't that literal, but there were emotions that I was very much drudging up and there were ways that those characters were personal to me and it's the same thing here. Weight has been an issue for me my entire life, and for Savannah in different ways. I don't think we're identical in the ways it's been an issue, but weight and body image and self-image have been — I don't think we're alone in this — a huge issue for both of us. Were you nervous about doing a show featuring a predominantly overweight cast?
Holzman: For me, being a writer, you want to communicate with people, but if your goal is that every person is going to love what you do then you're always going to be disappointed. You don't need to be fat or have a weight issue to relate to it. It's just not like that because it's so much about the people and friendship and what it's like to get past the blocks we put up against intimacy. Fat and weight is just one element of that. It's about being an outsider and struggling to make some kind of peace with who you are, to figure out who you were. I try not to focus too much on who's going to find this interesting, we focus on what we find interesting. That's what I've always done.
For more on the show, check out these articles:
  • New York Times: "A Close-Knit Team on a Plus-Size Show."
  • CNN: "Nikky Blonsky: It doesn't matter that I'm plus-size" (by Jessica Wakeman)
  • Jess Weiner: "ABC Family’s “HUGE” May Look Extreme – But That Could Be A Good Thing!" (This is really great, do read it.)
And the promo:

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