HUGE “Letters Home” Review

Huge (ABC Family)

Week two at Camp Victory opens with the campers writing letters home. HUGE‘s episode “Letters Home” centers on the arrival of a new camper Danielle, who has an anxiety disorder. Her parents hover around her throughout the show, despite Dr. Rand’s attempt to get them to leave. At the end of the episode, Danielle has an anxiety attack and leaves camp. Danielle’s relationship with her parents serves as a jumping-off point to explore the lives of the main characters, as well as the relationships with their parents.

Our protagonist Will continues her rebellious ways by stealing Chloe’s magazine and cutting out pictures of full-figured women to tape on her bunk and irritate Amber. Danielle’s mother sees Will’s handiwork and is encouraging and complimentary about Will’s “artistic talent”. She even gets Will to join in a basketball game. This interaction with Danielle’s mother is a sharp contrast to Will’s relationship with her own mother. Will expresses in a letter to her parents that she actually enjoyed playing basketball; is angry that they sent her to camp and thinks she is not good enough for them; and that it hurts her but she will try not to care. Ultimately she rips up the letter, saying she won’t and can’t ever tell them these things.

We are also given a bit of Dr. Rand’s backstory. Her relationship with her father seems tenuous at best. And during the entire show, Dr. Rand is trying to write her mother, in order to explain why she wants to get to know her father. As explained in the episode, he was having a hard time; contacted her; and was offered a job as camp cook. Dr. Rand never sent this version of the e-mail to her mother, only a generic “sorry it’s been a while” e-mail.

Finally, we get a glimpse of bits and pieces of the supporting characters as well. Ian doesn’t get along with his parents. Amber’s mother seems to be very dependent on her, leaving her relieved to be at camp, where counselor George has finally learned her name. And in an interesting twist, it turns out that Alistair and Chloe are siblings, although she apparently would rather keep this fact a secret.

With so much focus on the casting of plus-size actors, I am glad that that is not all the show has going for it. The natural acting abilities of the young actors are a pleasant surprise, but the caricatures of stereotypical counselors/coaches are not. Even Dr. Rand’s melancholy demeanor seems exaggerated at times, so that I can’t look at her without thinking about gloomy Eeyore (of Winnie the Pooh fame). But it’s too early to get an accurate read on anything yet. We have to wait and see how the characters develop; where the storyline takes us; and what message the show conveys.