So far, I have been impressed. I was concerned that they would fall for the easy "fat jokes" for laughs and that the characters would be one dimensional but I was wrong. Willamena (Blonsky) is funny and rebellious and more than a little angry that her parents sent her to "fat camp". She is hurting because they do not accept her and is lashing out by refusing to lose any weight. Amber (Hasselhoff) is a lovely girl who, because she is one of the thinner people at camp and pretty to boot is the center of make attention for the first time in her life. She is sweet to begin with but the attention is her minefield to cross this summer. Dr. Rand (played by Gina Torres) is tough on the outside but you can see that she understands from experience what the campers are going through and they have shown that she is not flawless. Even sibling issues are explored in the characters of Chloe and Alastair. Though it hasn't been offically stated- when Chloe receives a package from home, she brings Alastair his half- but in the woods far away from anyone. Rarely does she even speak to Alastair in front of anyone because he is so much larger than she is and has so very many self esteem issues making him one of the "weird" (his own word) kids at the camp.
The only character I have an issue with so far is Shay (Tia Texada), the camp's fitness coach. Although not the only person in camp who is in shape (she has an assistant, George, who is the resident hottie and there is also Poppy- the annoyingly perky camp counselor in the girl's cabin) Shay grates on my last nerve. Think Jillian Michaels in her approach. Every time she screams at the kids- I just want to punch her in the face. There is not an ounce of sympathy or empathy in her body. If I were at that camp- she would be reason enough for me to leave. If she were not SO grating- she might be a good opposite to Dr. Rand- but unless we find out that Shay was overweight at some point and there is a reason for her seeming loathing of the kids- she will continue to be a stereotype.
Three episodes in, I am impressed enough that I am looking forward to the each episode. Rather than focusing soley on weight; we have seen the real issues that overweight teens face. These include self esteem issues, bullying (from the tennis camp nearby), lack of acceptance and health issues. As one camper said "It's not so bad being here, it's the only place I have ever felt like not only is the playing field even but we're even on it".
I also have to give points to ABC Family for their "Live Huge" campaign. On the site for the show they have put together a panel of experts to interact with fans to help them with the problems that they face. According to the site:
At ABC Family, we believe that healthy living means living life to the fullest. In order to live your best life, it’s important to take care of yourself -- physically, mentally and emotionally. Here you’ll be given tips on how to eat nutritious snacks and meals, add exercise into your busy life, and build a stronger, more positive sense of self -- because living a healthy life means having healthy self-esteem too!
Kudos to them for tackling this subject. More kudos for handling it in the way they have thus far. I only hope that the rest of the season is as positive as it began.