In her previous show My So Called Life, Huge creator Winnie Holzman explored the torture of being a teenager along with the equally torturous assignment of a parent raising that teenager. Where other shows relied strictly on hi-jinks or melodrama to drive home this mutual misunderstanding, My So Called Life replaced both with a level of angst (on everyone's part) that highlighted the idea that no one, teen or adult, really understood just what the hell they were doing. This same feeling has come across in the first season of Huge. And while the ABC Family drama doesn't have the same darkish tones as Holzman's original baby, (replaced with a peppy theme song and a few more one liners) it still carries a certain level of angst among all its participants. Because in the world of Camp Victory, everybody - the kids, counselors, directors and parents - are scared to death of their world.
This season Huge explored this level of confusion and frustration among all its players in order to make us understand for damn certain that life holds no easy answers. And while the kids are attending Camp Victory under the pretext of weightloss, the weight problem often pales in comparison to the bigger issues like love and friendship and understanding. Wil's trials and tribulations (mostly self-induced) have shown as much. She's worked her damndest to appear in control of her world (embracing her fat, generally not appearing to give a crap) when in reality she's as or more lost than anyone. So when her parents pull a no-show, and she stalks off after seeing Ian and Amber as a couple and then her friendship with Becca dissolves, it becomes very clear that Wil is almost without a positive thing in her life. Almost. Her final conversation with Dr. Rand and the discovery that the big secret behind losing weight is to hate yourself just a little less left that little flicker of hope. That little dot of light at the end of the tunnel where Wil could eventually understand that the cause of her world collapsing lies squarely on her shoulders and no one else's. That when she hates herself a little less, things will get a little better.
And why wouldn't Doctor Rand hate herself? She's lost all this weight and worked her whole life to keep it off only to realize the root of her problems go so much deeper than just a few pounds. She has daddy issues to the point where she doesn't really know the first thing about Salty. She knows he disappeared when she was a kid, but has no idea where he went. She knows there's another woman in her life, but knows nothing about her. And she knows her dad came to Camp Victory for a reason, but his motives still seem a bit unclear. Because the closer she's tried to get to him, the more he's retreated. So it's fitting that he'd finally open up to her just when he has to leave for good to back to his other family. But I get the sense that's all Dr. Rand really needed, just the truth.
The other characters on the show began to see glimmers of hope the closer their parents got to leaving even if each of their little victories are somewhat laced with doubt. Ian got the stones to tell Amber how he felt and it seems to have paid off except that he's unknowingly become the rebound guy. And Amber has a new guy to show her affection even if he is the wrong one. And Trent got to sit down and jam with the band even though that was probably their only gig now that Ian is smooching with the enemy. And Alistair finally began embracing his feminity (or sexuality) even though it may only ostracize him further. And Becca was able to stand up to Wil even though it may have been her closest relationship at camp. Isn't this how we build angst? Give each character a little something good over which they can instantly become confused and fearful.
From the beginning of the season Huge has kept its characters in a perpetual state of doubt. So goes the life of a teenager. And like any good show Huge finishes its first season with an ellipses rather than a period. It ends mid-summer with still much work to be done. If/how they bring everyone back for season two is a mystery, but this much is clear - it ended with a feeling of hope. Not necessarily that these kids will end up losing weight or that they'll all of a sudden end up skinny. We know that won't be the case. But instead that they (adults too) will find something good and positive in their lives to rally around. That they stop hating themselves. That they embrace Camp Victory - where hope shines like a star.
Other thoughts on the episode and a great freshman season
- Maybe my favorite part of this whole season was when the kids sang the Camp Victory theme song in standard camp fight song style rather than the pop version we get in the opening. The scene was only made better when Poppy wants to run it back at the end.
- Of course Salty knew Wil took the brownies. And of course he would blame himself. And of course he couldn't leave without making sure Wil was still practicing her jumpshot.
- Can we all agree Salty will be back with his daughter Violet for season two? Perfect excuse for him to reemerge at camp and for a new character (who's troubled) to get on the scene.
- It will be interesting to see how they take the George/ Amber relationship from here considering he now needs to see her with another (decidedly worse looking) man. I never loved this story line, but I do like the one where he needs to be the jealous one.
- Wil's parents own Core Gym right? Right? - How could I end before discussing Alistair in a little more depth? His initial transformation into his more comfortable self was a phenonmenol, and somewhat risky scene. Head faking us into thinking he'd cut his hair, only to see him cut away his shirt and don (Trent's stepmom's?) necklace was equally touching and rebellious. Alistair is one of those kids who needs Camp Victory more to find himself than he does to lose weight. I get the sense he's comfortable with who he is, but just needs to find a way to make everyone else comfortable with him.
- I'm glad we got to find out why Chloe shunned Becca. That is was as simple as "I wanted to be cool" wasn't uplifting, but at least it was realistic
- I liked how Wil and Ian's (and Trent I guess) song was just a general f-you to all the parents who don't understand their kids in the slightest