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Literature / Huge

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Like High School only at Fat camp
Hail to thee, Camp Victory
Where hope shines like a star!
Although the summer sun may set
We promise we'll not soon forget,
Camp Victory, how wonderful you are!

Huge is an ABC Family network television series developed by Winnie Holzman, of My So-Called Life fame, with her daughter Savannah Dooley, based on the young-adult novel of the same name by Sasha Paley.

The hour-long drama series revolved around Deadpan Snarker Willamena "Wil" Radar (Nikki Blonsky), a fat teen who resents that her slim, health-club-owning parents have shipped her off to Fat Camp hoping she will return "normal." She becomes determined to remain true to herself, love and respect the body she's in...and maybe even gain weight out of sheer defiance. On her first day at camp, she encounters attractive blonde Amber (Haley Hasselhoff)note , and automatically declares her her nemesis. But Amber's got her own baggage: being the thinnest girl at fat camp attracts a lot of male attention, something Amber's not used to after a lifetime of judging herself for her weight. Gradually Wil discovers there's a lot more to Amber than her appearance.

In fact, there's a lot more to everyone at Camp Victory than meets the eye—campers and counselors alike. Everyone's got a story to tell and a struggle to face. Wil finds herself begrudgingly letting go of some of her preconceived notions as she learns more about her fellow campers and the issues that brought them here.

In addition to the usual teen drama, it examined issues of body image and societal expectations on weight, and even managed to slip in a few progressive views on gender. Unfortunately, Huge was canceled in October 2010 after only 10 episodes.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation/Expansion: The TV series takes the basic premise and setting of the book, which is essentially an ad for weight-loss camp, and gives it a body-positive message instead.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: See Love Dodecahedron, below.
  • Alma Mater Song: The page quote, which doubles as the theme song.
  • Alpha Bitch: Chloe acquires a Girl Posse within minutes of arriving at camp and only becomes more of a force of nature from there.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Alistair, to the other kids. He prefers to see people as individuals rather than pay attention to gender, but we do know he has a thing for Trent.
  • Be Yourself: The show is Anvilicious regarding the need to accept your own body and identity.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Becca doesn't speak up often, but when she does, she's not afraid to throw down the truth...even to her best friend and bunkmate Wil.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Amber, who has the entire male population of the camp (not to mention George, one of the counselors) fawning over her. Unfortunately she can't seem to acknowledge it due to her skewed perception of her weight.
  • Big Eater: The camp attempts to repress such behavior.
  • Bookworm: Becca is seen reading a book at least once every episode. She also writes in her diary in runes.
  • Catchphrase: Salty's "No seconds."
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Alistair can be seen as this and Poppy has her moments.
  • Cool Old Guy: Dr. Rand's father
  • Dead Pan Snarker: Wil
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Shay
  • Embarrassing First Name: Dante Piznarski. One has to wonder how 'Piz' is more dignified.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Boys instantly flock to Amber, an attractive blonde. Wil, who's aware of this trope, grumbles that it just figures that the skinniest girl at fat camp would also be blonde.
  • Family Theme Naming: Amber's mother's name is Teal.
  • Fat and Proud: Wil. And the entire message of the show is against shaming fat people and being proud of yourself no matter what your weight is.
  • Fat Camp: Camp Victory
  • Fat Idiot, Fat Bastard, Fat Slob: Totally averted. If anything the real 'villain' of Huge is the societal idea that being fat makes you a bad person.
  • Formerly Fat: Dr. Rand, who even as a slim adult still hasn't quite gotten over all her past insecurities. (There's a hint that she's actually taking some of Wil's positivity to heart, but the series ended before this could be followed up.)
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Amber, a genuinely kind, nice, but insecure person with peacemaker tendencies. The theme's even reflected in her name: a golden gemstone associated with healing and positivity.
  • Hollywood Darkness: All of the outdoor nighttime scenes look like daytime, only more blue.
  • Karma Houdini: Wil never finds out that Becca read her diary.
  • Light Feminine Dark Feminine / Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tall, slim(ish), soft-spoken, honey-haired-and-suntanned Amber in contrast with short, busty, brash and outspoken Wil with her dark curly hair and pale skin.
    • Wil also has a Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic with her quiet, diplomatic, bookish bunkmate Becca, who has long, loose hair and tends to wear soft, flowing clothes in pink and purple, compared to Wil's darker colors, shorter hair, and more boyish style.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Dante likes Chloe, who likes Trent. Wil likes Ian, who likes Amber, who likes George, who likes her back but doesn't think they should pursue a relationship because she's a teenage camper and he's a twentysomething counselor. All of this makes Poppy grateful that she's asexual.
  • Magical Native American: George is chosen to lead the Spirit Quest because his grandfather was Native American, under the assumption of this trope. However, when George calls his grandfather for advice, it turns out he's dead. Not very helpful.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Outspoken and assertive Wil and soft-spoken, easy-going artist Ian. Played with as the series goes on and Wil is revealed to have a softer, more sensitive artistic side corresponding to Ian's Papa Wolf protectiveness.
  • Meaningful Rename: Alistair takes the name 'Athena' as his spirit name during the spirit quest. The other boys alternately use it as a term of derision and affection, although he doesn't use it on a regular basis.
  • Midnight Snack: In a spirit of solidarity, Amber joins Wil to raid the camp cafeteria's fridge. Unfortunately, since it is a fat camp, the best they can scrounge is some fat-free brownies.
  • My Beloved Smother: Danielle's family. However, Danielle doesn't seem to mind and has a panic attack the moment they leave.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Wil makes comments to Becca about how furious and violated she feels at the idea of Ian reading her diary, not knowing that Becca herself read Wil’s diary— while Ian merely read the song.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The two camp counselors: Poppy, a gentle pixie overflowing with positivity and life affirmations...and Shay, who doesn't care if you hate her as long as you're sweating.
  • Relationship Reveal:
    • Chloe is so embarrassed by her weirdo brother Alistair that everyone is shocked to learn they're not only siblings, but twins.
    • Wil learns that Salty the cook is Dr. Rand's dad. Rand tells her that she plays down their relationship while at camp to maintain professionality. In reality it's because Salty wasn't a part of her life as a child and she's still struggling with her resentment, particularly since she blames her former obesity on his absence.
  • Rivals Team Up: While never exactly friends,note  Wil and Amber realize that they aren't so different and combine their skill-sets to solve problems.
  • Secret Snack Stash: Wil comes to camp prepared with dozens of these. She's even filled a shampoo bottle with jawbreakers.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • "Love Handles", a reality TV show akin to 'Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire''.
    • When the kids get to choose the film for movie night, all the female campers clamor for Phantasma, a supernatural romance based on a series of wildly popular YA novels with a suspiciously familiar storyline.
  • Short Runner: Lasted a grand total of ten episodes.
  • Shrinking Violet: Becca is soft-spoken, avoids conflict, often over-apologetic, and all in all would rather be reading a book.
  • Straw Feminist: Wil shows a few signs of being this. Part of it's her age—she's young enough to accept some big ideas without nuance—and some of it's sheer defiance, knowing that her body-positive message is one of the few ways she can fight back against both her parents and the camp's general attitude.
  • Summer Campy: Well, it is set at a summer camp, though the traditional tropes are usually either subverted or Lampshaded due to the campers' Genre Savvy, particularly Wil, who calls them out for being corny. Specific examples include the fake Native American naming ceremony, the rival-camp-across-the-lake, the numerous summer crushes, Poppy (the chipper counselor who gets way too invested in all the traditions and activities), and Shay (the counselor/fitness coach that everyone dreads).
  • Supreme Chef: Subverting the trope that a) all camp food is awful and b) all diet food is awful, is Salty, Camp Victory's cook, who's damn good at what he does...maybe even too good, since his healthy concoctions are so tasty that the campers end up wanting more, for reasons other than the small portions.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Wil is the Wild in almost every relationship she has at camp, from retiring, bookish Becca, to insecure Amber, to sensitive, easy-going Ian, to reasonable-but-firm Dr. Rand. Mildly subverted from the usual pattern (where Wild usually gets Uptight to loosen up), since Wil's the one who ends up learning and growing from her more low-key companions. Becca in particular ends up being the voice of reason for her hot-headed bunkmate.
  • Very Special Episode: Almost every episode has shades of this. There's usually a b-plot where it turns out that one or more characters have an alarmingly serious issue (Wil's efforts to undermine the camp's weight loss program unintentionally reveals a camper with a serious eating disorder; the seemingly lighthearted LARPing episode suddenly turns into a PSA about bullying; etc.).
  • Vision Quest: One of the episodes centers around a hokey camp activity called "Spirit Quest," where a few of the kids gets some genuine spiritual insight.
  • Weight Woe: Played both for laughs and straight, but always fairly realistically.
    • In the Played for Laughs column is Amber, who is crushed to lose only two pounds at the first weigh-in despite trying harder than any of the other campers. Wil, on the other hand, is furious to have lost more weight than Amber, even though she's been secretly trying to gain.
    • In the Played Straight side, Caitlin is sent away from camp when she is revealed to have a serious eating disorder. Her bunkmates are outraged, believing she's being punished and implying that her disorder might have gone away if she'd been allowed to remain at camp and lose weight in a healthy way. Dr. Rand explains that eating disorders do not improve without professional help that the camp isn't qualified to provide.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Caitlin and Danielle were introduced in the first and second episodes, respectively. Both of them seemed like interesting characters, but they were each Put on a Bus by the end of the episode in which they were introduced.