Huge, Episode 3: “I was never cool, in school / I’m sure you don’t remember me”

By | July 13, 2010

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I don’t watch much television. I dislike that it requires me to sit still, and I dislike that while I am watching I am more or less captive until whatever I’m watching comes to a close. I find television a little claustrophobic and overly demanding. Sure, I can record shows on DVR and watch them whenever, but even then, recordings tend to pile up and give me pathetic looks whenever I check my DVR list, like those sad dogs and cats in ASPCA commercials. I want to adopt you all, but I only have so much time! So I don’t watch much television.

It is rare that I crush out on TV shows, though sometimes it does happen. It is rarer still that I crush out on TV characters. There are a few notable exceptions. I have a weakness for complete bastards, and so my TV-character crushes have included such venerable assholes as: Crais, from Farscape; LaCroix, from Forever Knight (shut UP); Brian Kinney, from the US version of Queer as Folk; and even Al Swearengen of Deadwood. I know. I’m a weird one. In my defense, my first-ever TV crush was on Jeremy Brett’s outstanding portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. I am also automatically on board with anything that has Richard Armitage in it. I could watch that man paint a wall beige for three hours and be blissfully absorbed. I mean, damn, y’all. Damn.

But I… uh, digress.

Huge has got me, though. I find myself looking forward to episodes, and this is so bizarre I can’t even tell you. The only other show I’ve actively looked forward to like this in recent years has been Mad Men; I doubt I could find a show less like Huge, and yet both of these series have common ground in that they have hooked me, a confirmed not-really-much-of-a-TV-watcher. So I admit I am crushing on this show. More than that, I am crushing on pretty much the entire cast. Huge’s other astonishing characteristic is that it is pretty much the only show ever in which I thought every single character was gorgeous. My sensibilities on these things are unusual, I realize, and my starry-eyed adulation is also in part because of the novelty of seeing people on TV who look like people I love. More than anything, it is a feeling of relief; it is a feeling of acknowledgment. Am I real? Are we people? Do we have full and happy (and occasionally angst-ridden) lives that don’t revolve around the Great Tragedy of Being Fat? Yes, yes, and yes.

It’s morning at Camp Victory. Will is not a morning person. Poppy is. No one is surprised.

The campers assemble outside and are led in their morning “affirmations” by Dr. Gina. It starts, “We are grateful for our bodies and our spirits…” but only like three people are speaking along with Dr. Gina. The campers are yawning and cranky-looking. Ian whispers to Alistair to check out Amber’s pajamas, which cover her from stem to stern and seem to be made of flannel printed all over with multicolor hearts. Oho, sex appeal! Next, Trent appears behind Ian to confidentially instruct him that the dudes have all discussed it and decided that Ian needs to inform Alistair that he smells bad and should shower more often. I am really interested to see how this show deals with this subplot, and if it can manage to handle it in a delicate manner. Ian is bewildered, and I want to clean his smudgy glasses. That’s not a euphemism. Although I could probably make it into one, if I thought about it long enough.

Ian and his filthy glasses.

In the eating-cabin (“cafeteria” doesn’t seem appropriate, here), Becca’s flyering to get a LARP group started at camp — for the uninitiated, LARP stands for live action role playing, and this pastime usually involves costuming and character-building in an invented world. I love that Becca is a geek. Indeed, I just love Becca. Chloe makes some snarky comments. Chloe, don’t you dare pick on the soft-spoken geek. I will reach into the television and fucking end you.

Alistair and Ian are eating breakfast. Alistair is talking about a dream he had: “I dreamt the whole camp was on this island, where we were like stranded. And the whole point, was like for us to get so hungry, that we would eat each other.” Ian: “That’s deeply disturbing.” Ian then makes his first attempt to bring up the showering issue in a sensitive way, and talks about how camp has “so many guys” in a “small space” and okay, Huge, I am already crushing on jailbait, you can refrain from giving me dialogue that so easily lends itself to double-entendres. Recapping this show is seriously going to get me arrested.

Ian’s efforts are interrupted by Dr. Gina Torres going on about something camp-related, and then by Will and Becca, who join their table, Will informing both Ian and Alistair that they have to come to Becca’s LARP group. Alistair wants to know if he can be someone who only speaks in riddles, and then whether they have to dress up. No, they don’t have to. “But we can, right?” Alistair says hopefully. Ian wants to know if anyone… else will be coming, with a telling glance at the table where Amber sits with Chloe and Trent and Dante.

Over at the cool kids’ table, Trent and Dante are busting on how Alistair smells. The only good thing about this is that Dante references The Neverending Story and I am pleased that Kids Today might know this movie. Chloe, laughing, asks who they’re talking about again, and Dante says, matter-of-factly: “The gay kid, Alistair.” Chloe is a little taken aback; in case you missed last week’s recap, Alistair and Chloe are siblings. It is sort of unexpected and interesting that here, “gay” isn’t an insult, but simply a distinguishing characteristic, although this is the first time we’ve heard Alistair identified as gay.

Later, Becca, Alistair, Will, and Ian are walking out to the LARP meeting place, with Becca explaining the LARP universe she’s created to Alistair. Coming down a hill, Will slides on some gravel and nearly falls but manages to stay upright. Dudes, this looks totally unscripted. Nice recovery, girlfriend! And way to keep the scene going.

As Becca and Alistair walk ahead, Ian says to Will: “I have a confession to make: I have LARPed, in my life.” Ian, you are both far too young for me AND a fictional character; please quit being so fucking charming all the time. Evidently Ian has an ex-girlfriend who was into it. Will says, “Yeah, that can be rough — she’s a gnome, you’re not…” Ha. In fact, it turns out said ex basically “destroyed” Ian, but it’s all cool ‘cause he’s over it now.

This is a public service announcement: You’re never actually over the people who destroy you when you’re a teenager. Sure, life will go on, and before too long it won’t thoroughly gut you just to think about it, but even when you are thirty and looking back you will remember that pain and sadness with a keenness that will surprise you.

Of course, Ian’s just a pup, so he doesn’t know this yet.

Ian then pulls Will aside as Becca and Alistair walk on ahead. OMG THEY SHOULD TOTALLY MAKE OUT. No. Damn it. Ian just wants to ask Will a question, and so we all must set our Team Ian flags aside for a future time. Will assumes the question is about Amber. No, it’s about Alistair and his lack of hygiene: “How do you tell someone they, like, smell?” Will thinks the straightforward approach is best, and both she and Ian agree that they would want to know. Ian says: “That’s like my worst fear, that I smell, but I don’t know it.” Somehow this conversation evolves into Will leaning over and sniffing Ian, to reassure him that he does not smell. Love this show. Will tells Ian he smells like fabric softener.

Will sniffs Ian. AWWW.

They reach Becca’s sacred grove, as she tells the story she’s devised for the location. Alistair decides he wants to be a cat person, and leaps onto a nearby tree to lean back and preen. But suddenly, they are interrupted.

Three slender kids from the nearby tennis camp have appeared, and want to know what the hell the fatties are doing in their space. One of them knows Will from school. He is an asshole. All three of them are assholes, and their sudden appearance is jarring as hell — odd that I have come to see this fat camp as a refuge. Will looks wounded when she recognizes Asshole #1.

The assholery begins, aptly, with a food comment: “So, you finally decided to put down the cake,” says Asshole #1. Ian tells them to leave, and #1 asks him, “When you’re in the shower and you look down, what can you even see?” Ian replies, “Your mother.” OH SNAP. I’ll have to remember that one. Will goes from zero to RAGEBEAST and shouts forcefully at the “douchebags” to leave before she fucks their shit up, fatass-style. Asshole #1 asks if she plans on eating them. Girl Asshole states that this part of the woods belongs to them, because they come there everyday post-tennis-ing. Will is vibrating like a bomb about to go off, and Becca tells her they should just go. As they leave, Asshole #1 not only instructs Will to “back that ass up”, but then supplies sound effects. It’s a shame that this is a basic cable show allowing for limited violence, as this dude is as deserving of an enthusiastic cockpunching as anyone I’ve ever seen.

HUGE assholes. Haha, get it? No? Ah well.

Hey, there are ducks at Camp Victory. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but we see quite a few transitional shots of ducks. No word on weather the ducks are there to lose weight; they don’t seem to be taking the yoga class. Becca and Will are, though, and Will is adamant that they should take back Becca’s sacred grove from the tennisholes, mounting a plan that involves getting as many campers as possible to show up at the next LARP meeting. Becca is not quite down with this, but says nothing. Meanwhile, Trent is chatting up Amber about his football injury, and George totally cockblocks him: “No talking.” Priceless. Alistair falls, just as The Jillian Michaels Off-Broadway Experience happens to be walking by, and she shrieks at him to get up. Shay proceeds to demonstrate the Warrior pose with a studied perfection. It’d be just lovely if she could be both extraordinarily fit AND nice to fat people. Why can’t we have both?

Post-yoga, a tense Jillian Michaels Reproduction Plate from the Franklin Mint demands that George make the campers “fear” him. She alludes to something that happened last year, and finally tells George: “Just make me look good.” As an aside, did you know the actor who plays George is the son of the actor who played Brendan and Brenda Walsh’s dad on the original 90210? It’s true. Did you also know that it horrifies me that I have to qualify 90210 with “the original” because there is a contemporary remake? That is also true.

Hells yeah, y’all, we finally get to see the inside of the boys’ cabin. I am hoping it’s all pillow fights in their underwear, but no, it’s just dumb teenage boys fucking around. Dante is taking the piss out of Trent’s flirtation with Amber, in a girly voice: “Oh, Trent, what position do you play?” Trent, whilst apparently groping Dante’s behind: “Oh Amber, I play every position.” Dante yells at him to back off. NO WAIT, LET’S GO WITH THIS. I am terrible, I know.

The newly-ferocious George enters and terrorizes the boys by telling them they really should do some chores, or something, like whatever. He brings up the chore wheel, which is apparently a wheel with chores on it. As George storms out, the boys idly wonder if he’s mad at them or something. Ha.

Inside the boys' cabin. Note lack of pillow fighting.

Ian follows George back to his room and asks if George would be willing to say something to Alistair about his lack of showering. George says sure, but then Ian suddenly thinks better of it and, protectively, says never mind, it’ll be better if it comes from Ian. Before leaving, Ian sort of gently punches — nudges, really — the speed bag hanging in George’s room, and then stops it swinging with both hands. Man, this episode is all about Ian. Dude is hilarious.

Becca and Will are trying to sell the whole LARP deal to some of the other girl campers. Will is all about making it sound like an epic battle, while Becca tries to keep to her original story. Inside their cabin, Amber and Chloe are talking about Trent. Chloe is not-so-subtly jealous that Trent may have a thing for Amber. Ladies, ladies, there’s plenty of Trent to go around!

Dr. Gina Torres is flyering for the first campfire of the season when Mystery Science Jillian Michaels Theater 3000 happens by to tell her all about how the camp’s former director, “Lorraine”, was so totally awesome and they had more campfires and the stories she told were HIII-larious. Also Lorraine rode through camp every morning on a unicorn passing out flowers and homespun wisdom to the grateful campers. Dr. Gina, who seems more and more like a scared deer with every passing episode, tells Shay she should bring one of those stories to share. Shay is eventually distracted by a protein shake and walks away.

That evening, our heroes are prepping for LARPdom, which includes fighting with swords made of duct tape. When Alistair leaps out of the cabin in his catperson persona — fake “claws” taped to his fingers, Will squirts him with a super soaker, at which point Alistair breaks character long enough to insist, “HEY HEY HEY — cats can’t get wet.” Alistair goes cavorting off, chased by Ian, who is still trying to bring up the shower issue, even while Alistair just meows and howls. Will wants to be a cyborg, which Becca quietly says does not fit within the world she’s created. Will argues: “You have to make it fun or else nobody will want to come!” They sword-fight, Will using her super-soaker as her sword, and Becca quickly disarms her. Will: “You’re good at this.” Becca: “What, you’ve never fenced?” LOL. Team Becca.

Meanwhile, Ian has lost patience with Alistair and corners him against the cabin steps, grabbing Will’s water gun and soaking him down with it: “How do you like that water, cat?” Alistair crumples and it’s not fun anymore. Ian, sensitive lad that he is, recognizes immediately that he’s gone too far, and apologizes. Alistair shrugs it off, though he’s obviously embarrassed.

Dr. Gina is searching for beloved campfire stories on the internets. Apparently she replaced “Lorraine” as camp director five years ago. Wow, Dr. Gina does not come across like she’s been doing this for five years. Or maybe it’s her dad’s presence that’s throwing her off.

The next day, Dr. Gina finds Becca at breakfast, and informs her that the place she’s chosen for her LARP group is off-limits to campers. Becca wants to move the LARP, but Will is insistent — for her own selfish reasons of revenge — that they keep it where it is.

This week, it’s Alistair who speaks at the sharing circle: “Yeah, I’m weird. You really think that’s an insult?” He talks about being excited to lose weight, but not being sure how he’ll handle it — whether it will make him a different person. Dr. Gina informs everyone that they’re not in this alone, that they all have each others’ backs here. OR DO THEY? Mwahaha.

Following the sharing circle, we discover via a conversation between Dr. Gina and her dad that she is worried about the campers’ run-in with the tennis kids. Also they shouldn’t be in the part of the land because there is a toolshed on it in danger of collapsing. And there’s the Blair Witch to consider. Oh, and, the guy who runs the tennis camp is married. And Dr. Gina knows him. And his being married is somehow important. This leads to Dr. Gina leaving Tennis Camp Guy the awkward voicemail to end all awkward voicemails, which, in between stutters and pauses, mentions that his campers were on her property, and in the pièce de résistance is cut off at the end. When the automated voicemail asks if she is “satisfied” with the message she’s recorded, Dr. Gina says, “I’m not satisfied!” But the message goes through anyway.

Won’t you take me down, to LARPing town? The would-be LARPers are all assembled, but Becca is nowhere to be found. Turns out she’s hiding in the bathroom, as clearly this is more about Will’s plan for revenge than Becca’s actual story. Will gives up looking and leaves, while Amber and Chloe — way too cool for LARP — come in, kindly taking a moment to openly laugh at Will’s LARP “costume”, which consists of face paint and armor made of cafeteria trays.

In the clearing, Will takes charge of the LARP by announcing that the object is to kill everyone. They all start fighting. It’s pretty brilliant.

Back in the cabin, Becca is trying to read while Chloe and Amber take a magazine quiz, in which the answers range from aggressive responses to situations and more passive ones. The passive answers are clearly levied as not-so-subtle jabs at soft-spoken Becca, when Chloe calls them “pathetic” and the responses those of a “doormat”. Becca closes her book in frustration, and Chloe says to Amber: “She’s going to shoot us with an arrow.” Both girls laugh. This scene murdered me dead, y’all. It is a brutally faithful portrayal of how girls can rag on other girls in this extremely passive-aggressive way, and how often the worst attack is to be treated as though you don’t exist. Obviously, this is an experience I am familiar with, because hand on my heart, if I could have climbed into the television and throttled both Amber and Chloe, I probably would have done it. You bitches leave Becca the fuck alone.

Becca, for her part, has had enough, and grabs her LARP costume to put it on and head out to set shit straight, while Amber and Chloe openly laugh at her. No sooner is she gone than Chloe and Amber unleash their bitchiness on each other, in the absence of a shared target. I think they’re fighting about Trent, but who the fuck cares? I hope they both drink tainted well water and get intestinal parasites.

Becca arrives at the LARP in character and schools Will. She is so awesome. Team Becca FTW.

Becca will fuck your shit up, and do it in character.

Amber, in search of the LARP, stumbles upon three wild assholes grazing in the woods. Actually it’s the tennis-camp fucks, and they’re drinking beer, but whatever. The tennis fucks think Amber is from their camp, and are friendly to her. In effect, Amber can pass for “normal”. Interesting. As the foursome walks through the woods, they hear the LARP, and like asshole moths to an asshole flame, they take off in search of fat people to mock. They laugh hysterically at the sight, the Girl Asshole squealing, “There’s like so many of them!” I KNOW, RIGHT? You like never see this many fat people in one place, daring to focus on something other than being ashamed and invisible. Trent sees Amber and calls to her. Girl Asshole asks, “Do you know that guy?” Amber immediately grimaces and shakes her head, “No.”

Asshole #1 brings the hate, but Becca, still in character, squares off. “Leave this place,” she instructs, before calling them “heaps of dung.” She leads the fat campers in a chant of “leave this place” until the tennis fucks, looking confused and weirded out, finally walk away, leaving Amber behind. Will calls Becca “badass”, but their joy is short-lived, as Dr. Gina has found the group and Becca is in trooooouuuuble. The revelers disperse, to be dealt with later.

Becca and Will argue on the way back to their cabin. Becca is angry that Will changed everything about her LARP, Will says she was trying to help. Will: “It’s not like you were going to talk to people on your own.” Ouch. Will immediately seems to realize this misstep and tries to cover for it, but Becca is already hurt. Will, you fucked up, girlfriend.

Back at the boys’ cabin, George pulls Alistair aside for a little talk about showering. He does it gently, with the assumption that Alistair doesn’t know it’s a problem. Turns out he does, but he’s afraid of showering, since there’s no privacy in there, and he’s not comfortable being naked in front of all these other dudes. Y’all, what kind of dumbass fat camp doesn’t have individual stalls for showering? Seriously? George gets it. Big props to this show for addressing men’s body shame with an impressive degree of tact and care.

Elsewhere, the guy who runs the tennis camp, who may or may not be Dr. Gina’s ex, appears as if from nowhere to chat about their little cross-camper problem. He tells Dr. Gina that it was HER campers that threatened his tennis fucks, and Dr. Gina reacts with indignance: “Our kids do not harrass people; our kids get harrassed.” PREACH IT, DR. GINA TORRES.

While everyone else is headed for the campfire, George makes sure the shower is clear so Alistair can take care of business. He tells Alistair that he will do this for him every time if necessary. Alistair is grateful, and asks him to promise never to tell about this, to anyone. And George promises, so that when Dr. Gina comes by moments later and demands he go meet with his cabin for the campfire because she needs to know he’s “committed” to his cabin and his job, he doesn’t explain why he’s standing around outside the shower. Aw.

There was a girl that passed me by / she gave a smile but I was shy / and I looked down

It’s campfire time! Chloe and Amber make up. Amber doesn’t really like Trent anyway. Oh, glad that’s sorted then. Chloe goes to roll up on Trent, while Ian takes the plunge and sits down next to Amber while Will looks on. Dudes, when I said Team Ian THIS WAS NOT WHAT I MEANT. Ian tries to talk to Amber about the LARP; apparently nobody noticed Amber fraternizing with the enemy.

Dante totally dug Becca’s LARP and wants to know when it’s happening again. Becca is astonished and pleased. This is a good opportunity for Will to make up with her. Becca acknowledges that she should have spoken up sooner. She tells Will she’s not like her: “You always say exactly what you mean.” Will looks over at Ian and Amber sadly: “Not always.”

Dr. Gina starts to read her story from the internets, but then stops herself. She passes around the pages and has the campers rip them into pieces so that everyone has a bit of white paper. Gina refers to these as their “white flags”. She wants them all to stop fighting. She says, “I surrender,” and tosses her white flag into the fire. It’s an unclear metaphor — what fight are they giving up? The fight with each other? With their bodies? With a culture that tells them to lose weight? Who knows. The other campers follow suit — except for Will, who surreptitiously stuffs her “flag” into her pocket. You go, girl. Damn the man.

Next week: TALENT SHOW! I want to see Will perform a raucous rendition of “Mein Herr”, from Cabaret, but I doubt that’s going to happen. She does try to get Ian to play something for her. Um, squee.

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