Fat on TV: Huge and Mike & Molly

By | May 25, 2010

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Huge Cast

Remember Hairspray? I refer, of course, to the 1988 John Waters masterpiece, the radical film that captured the finest moments of Ricki Lake’s career, and that first introduced an 11-year-old me to the majesty that is Divine.

Now, remember how a few years ago they remade that landmark film into a watered-down piece of crap starring Zac Efron and some fat girl who’d only ever been on Broadway been slinging ice cream for a living (Edit: I was confusing two different actresses, oopsy), with John fucking Travolta in the role that Divine made famous?* THE MIND BOGGLES. But yes, it happened. The fat girl in that movie was Nikki Blonsky, a cute little pudgedumpling who would subsequently attain gossip-column infamy for a public fistfight with a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model. In an airport. You can’t make this shit up, kids. Sadly, Blonsky is probably best known for this event than for much else she’s done since, which is a shame given that she seems to be a talented performer.

But hey, let’s hope that’ll change for her with her starring role in Huge, a new hour-long drama on ABC Family premiering June 28, based on the Sasha Paley novel of the same name. The main thrust of the story focuses on two girls headed to fat camp; April wants desperately to lose weight and is there by choice, while Wil is being forced to attend by her parents and is more interested in subverting the system by gaining weight. In an unexpected turn, Blonsky is cast as the rebellious would-be gainer Wil, while the much smaller Haley Hasselhoff is the eager-to-diet April.

My expectations for this, as in most television series that attempt to deal with fatness, are very low. But it’s worth noticing given that — see the cast photo above? — this is one of very few TV shows to feature multiple fat characters in starring roles, instead of one fat token to play the best friend or the sassy neighbor. Often one fat character is enough, when it’s not too much, and shows with multiple fat castmembers are exceedingly rare. (I’m thinking of Roseanne, but after that I’m stumped. Anyone?)

Which is why I’m also mentioning a new series on CBS, due in the fall, by the guy who made some other shows that some people seem to like (Two and a Half Men, and Big Bang Theory). I don’t watch sitcoms (unless Family Guy counts) so I can’t speak to the quality of his previous work, but this series is called Mike & Molly, and tells the story of two fatasses who first encounter one another at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting (GROAN) and subsequently fall in love. In a reversal of the usual circumstances, the sassy smart-mouthy characters on this show are the skinny ones. OH FUN. I’ll be honest with you, kids — this show looks positively awful to me. But decide for yourself! The promotional trailer is below. Again, potential-for-terribleness aside, this is the rare show featuring two clearly fat actors in the leading roles, and as such deserves a look.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to either of these shows?

*In truth, I was surprised to find that Travolta delivered a pretty great performance, and was possibly the thing I enjoyed most about the whole movie. But I admit that with reluctance; the original is still superior.

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