When I first spied it in TEN’s end of year announcement and it was called Teen Fat Camp it was a little staggering to believe such an idea would ever be greenlighted. But remember we had a year where The Biggest Loser was the biggest winner. With TEN’s youthful demographic, somebody saw this as a natural progression.
What they didn’t see was a decent production budget, which appears to have gone mostly on the airfares and American camp fees for the six overweight Aussies who comprise this show. There are none of the sweeping crane shots, dramatic music or high production values of TBL. Instead it looks like a holiday video.
Unlike TBL the first “weigh-in” for these six sees them stroll out from a mini-van onto a rudimentary scale in the backyard. Not much drama there. But then this show isn’t supposed to be about drama, it’s about helping six kids feel good about themselves. They’re not voted off, they’re educated and assisted into healthier and sustainable lifestyles, right?
Not entirely. If the show has no drama we’ll lose interest quick smart (and I admit I barely had any to begin with). So in the first episode there is considerable focus on a romantic triangle between a couple of the teenagers. He likes her. She likes another him. You know the deal.
The American counsellors, being the wholesome non-litigious Americans that they are, are quick to keep puppy-lovers apart. Apparently it won’t help their focus. There’s even a rather horrendous moment when they demonstrate that hugs are banned, unless you’re standing parallel to another kid and can reach one arm across the other. No frontal hugs, noooo, that could be sexual harrassment. It’s pretty rank.
One of the most disturbing moments is a candid interview by one of the fathers of the overweight kids. His heavyset son weighs in at 161kg. When trying to explain that this camp is the last hope for his son, the father bursts into tears, apologising with “shit I’m sorry.”
I felt like I was invading his private pain. It would have been more appropriate on the cutting room floor.
Teen Fit Camp is also too long, 60 minutes of whining kids, bum cracks and American ra-ra-ra was 30 too much. I’ve never been a big rave for The Biggest Loser but I’d take it over this anyday.
The scenery looked nice.
Teen Fit Camp premieres 7:30pm Thu May 31 on TEN.