Have You Guys Seen That Fat-Camp Show, HUGE?

Calling it a fat-camp show is actually really unfair. I kinda just did that to get your attention. The fact is, HUGE is one of my favorite new shows—even though I was super resistant to watching it at first. Seeing the ads I assumed it was going to be exploitive, or at the very least voyeuristic: Hey, America, let’s all look at some heavy teens! My husband even asked me the other day after he noticed me watching it, “So, isn’t that a show about kids trying to lose weight? I’m surprised you like it.”

But it’s actually not about weight loss at all. That’s just the framework for what I think is a larger discussion about obesity, prejuidice, and body love/hate. I’ve been incredibly impressed both as an eating disorders/body image advocate AND as a regular-old TV-watcher. Not only is the show fun (and funny), it’s also got messages about fatism, self-love and health. (There’s also just enough sexual tension and cute boys to make it sort of addictively fun.)

I have noticed a couple of times, though, after finishing an episode, that I’ve been a bit melancholy. Quiet. Maybe a little tender or contemplative. Despite the fact that I’m at a healthy weight now, the show brings up all kinds of issues that are close to my heart, and memories, I think from when I was bigger. The show hasn’t tackled a lot of emotional eating stuff yet, although in one scene in a recent episode, the (slim) camp director is writing a difficult email to her mother and when she looks down at a plate that was holding a muffin she had decided not to eat, all that was left were crumbs. I’ve never seen emotional eating portrayed in a more real way on TV.

Anyhow, the latest episode is available on Hulu, and the next one episode airs on Monday. Have you see the show? Did it bring up any issues for you? Do you love it? Hate it? Think it is exploitive? Please share—I feel like I’ve never seen a show like this before and would really love to know what you think! xo…Sunny

12 Responses to Have You Guys Seen That Fat-Camp Show, HUGE?

  1. Ditto on all accounts! Love the show and it exploration of this multifaceted issue. I too feel a lot of emotions after watching it. I remember being one of those fat teenagers (my mom used to threaten to send me to fat camp) and I feel sad about how they see themselves. This last episode about weigh-ins really got me. I know what it felt like when the scale meant so much, but now I know freedom from valuing myself with hat number. It made me feel sad about how important so many people make it when it means very little. It’s funny you mention the muffin scene, that really struck me! So simple yet so powerful. I can’t wait to see where the show goes. Love will, I see her coming to represent self love and acceptance, that naturally creates healthy behavior!!

    I have been meaning to write a blog post about the show myself!

    • Sunny says:

      The weigh-ins episode was great, wasn’t it? I can remember so many days in my life when the number on the scale dictated how I felt. I love the line they kept repeating during that episode: It’s not the number, it’s how you feel. Even if they didn’t fully believe it.

  2. Kate says:

    I like it a lot, though the stammering awkwardness of the camp director gets on my nerves, and so much of it is– well, campy.

    I forgive those things in it, because it’s a TV show, and it’s supposed to be a little campy and silly, and reach a lot of people.

    And it’s doing something TV shows should be doing a lot more— portraying real issues, and real prejudice that people encounter constantly because of the way they look.

    Plus, the romance is great :)

  3. I too have grown to love this show! And just like you Sunny, I was also hesitant to watch it at first because I thought it would just serve as an opportunity to mock and humiliate overweight teens. So glad to see that is NOT the case at all.

    It’s both refreshing and humbling to watch… We’ve been long overdue for a show that exposes the issues and emotions tied to weight, food and body image. At the same time though, I see so much of myself in some of the characters because I too dealt with the same struggles. In fact, I’m STILL trying to come to terms with how I view my body, even as I get closer to 30, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see how much I’m learning from some fictional teens. It may sound silly, but I honestly find the show quite therapeutic.

    True, there are some issues that they’ve yet to cover (or maybe haven’t yet covered too deeply), but I think that’s ok, considering it’s a brand new show. So far, I love the treatment of the characters and their budding relationships. HUGE has definitely exceeded my expectations.

  4. Lizzie says:

    I was so reluctant to watch this show at first, and I was even a little offended when a friend of mine suggested that I might like it. I finally gave it a try, and even though watching the first episode was painful for me, I think I kept watching at first for George and his stammering, awkward adorableness. The show does bring up painful memories of being a heavy teenager, and even more painful current feelings of being a heavy young adult. But it’s so much more honest about these issues than most portrayals.

    It also made me realize how much I’ve evolved over the years and how I have grown in some ways in terms of how I think about my body. I used to be very much like Will, angry and, at least in my case, pretending to be okay with being overweight because it was easier than being honest about the fact that I was heavy and unhappy with it. Her fat-spiration pictures are something that I would have done, and in my case, it would not have been a healthy thing. I was terrified of changing and going outside my comfort zone, and I think that Will is very much like that.

    Though, I was talking to a friend that I met after high school, and she said that she saw me more in girls like Becca and Amber, who are both fairly honest about wanting to lose weight, so much so that they can’t see how beautiful they already are. It was kind of a powerful reminder that I’ve changed a lot over the past 5 years or so, in some bad ways, and in some good ones. I’m more willing and open to change, but possibly because I’ve stopped seeing good things about myself that have been there all along.

  5. Kate D says:

    I’ve been resistant about watching this show becasuse the subject makes me a little squeamish (and I’m afraid about how the subject matter was treated).

    However, several of the blogs I read like, and with the positive reviews here I might give it a try.

  6. K says:

    Thanks for mentioning this show – I don’t watch tv so I didn’t know about it. I watched all four episodes available on Hulu (1st – 3rd and most recent, I believe).

    I like the show. I don’t think it’s exploitative. I think it’s nice to have a show with non-thin characters who actually have personalities. I was overweight as a child and teen and I think if people watch this show – and I’m sorry to have to say it like this but I do think this accurately reflects many things in our society – it will do at least a little to “humanize” overweight people.

    I can only speak based on my own experience, but I find the show unrealistic in a couple of ways (I still enjoyed it, and I’m not sure it has to be realistic to be good). First, the characters are so open about talking about being overweight. For other readers of this blog: did you feel or do you feel that open about it as a teen or adult? I did not, though it probably would have been helpful if I had.

    Second, most of the characters have so much more confidence that I had. Being overweight was not just one aspect of my physical demeanor that I hoped to change by losing weight, it really defined me. I’m curious whether anyone else had this impression?

  7. Shaya says:

    I agree with a lot of the points made by previous commenters, but my main reason for being hesitant to watch this show at first was because I thought the point of it was fat acceptance. And I am on the fence about that issue. Because I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, but my issue isn’t that other people don’t “accept” me, a lot of times it’s actually that I’ve had many people throughout my life accept it too much I felt, and I just never could. I always heard “you’re beautiful just the way you are”, etc etc. But I wasn’t happy until I finally started losing the weight. But once I watched the show, I realized it’s much much deeper than that. I think Will’s resistance to losing weight is really just a way of sort of rebelling against her parents. Also, I love how everyone on the show, not just the campers, has some kind of issue going on (i.e. the camp director & her father & her previous weight issues, the trainer & her daughter, etc.) And issues that run deeper for some of the campers other than just the issue of weight. It really puts a multifaceted perspective on it all that I really like. I’m excited to see how the show plays out :)

  8. Katie says:

    Loooooove this show. I’ve been wondering when you might post about it!

  9. Sarah Liz says:

    I just spent my entire Sunday afternoon watching the first season of that show after reading your blog. I love it!

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.