Is the casting of “real” people reason enough to endorse a show?
That’s the question we find ourselves struggling with as we sit down to compose our thoughts on HUGE, a new series premiering tonight at 9PM on ABC Family.
On the one hand, HUGE should be applauded. The series, which follows the lives of seven teens and the staff at a weight loss camp is unequivocally unlike anything that we’ve ever see on television before. Which, in an era that has primetime populated with a vast array of stick figures (see: Courteney Cox, Rose Byrne, the cast of GOSSIP GIRL, among others) that make the very normal and beautiful looking Sarah Rue — formerly of LESS THAN PERFECT fame find herself labelled, well, less than perfect. It is a breath of fresh air to see a show starring people look more or less like you and me… you know, the people actually watching TV!
On the other hand, television to us has always been first and foremost about story. And unfortunately, from Winnie Holzman (the Tony-nominated writer of the Broadway smash musical Wicked, Creator of MY SO-CALLED LIFE) and real life daughter Savannah Dooley, comes nothing short of a HUGE disappointment.
Protagonist Will (Nikki Blonsky) who has been forced to spend the summer at camp at the behest of her fitness guru parents is one unhappy camper. Adding to her unhappiness, is Amber (played by David Hasselhoff’s daughter model/actress Hayley Hasselhoff), a slew of “Mean Girls-esque” bunk mates, and a no-nonsense camp director (played by Gina Torres) who has her own slew of family drama to deal with.
Needless to say, Camp Victory (The name of the fictional weight-loss camp) is not a happy place. And what in theory should have been an uplifting series about kids overcoming adversity, and gaining self-esteem is a downright dour and depressing hour of television as campers come face-to-face with eating disorders, relationship squabbles and lack of acceptance.
Suffice to say, groundbreaking casting can only take a series so far. And while we certainly applaud ABC Family for living up to their motto of a “different kind of family” and for the most part, a group of unkown actors for quite literally leaving it all hanging on screen, the biggest loser here are the viewers, who have no idea as to what kind of show they’re about to get a taste of.
HUGE premieres Monday June 28 at 9PM on ABC Family.