First Review: Teen Fit Camp

It’s hard to be nice about Teen Fit Camp.

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.

3 Comments:

  1. I have just watched this show for the second time tonight and must say how horrified I am. While I give these young men and women 150% for guts, effort and optimism I am afraid I give the staff 20% for knowledge, 10% for ability to motivate, and 0% for safety.

    The roping and rapelling exercise in particular was one of the most dangerous activities I have ever seen, and in the military (where I got my experience) it would have been shut down in a heartbeat. The ropes were twisted, the guides at the top of the cliff weren’t harnessed, and there was equipment laying around at the edge of the cliff where the participants were trying to maneouvre. It raises serious questions about whether or not those involved knew what they were doing, and as a parent I would not allow my children to undertake this exercise with such unprofessional people.

    Overall I think the camp and the show have great potential, but I would swap the staff for people who have more experience with teenagers than those in this series appear to have. What about parents? Or military recruit instructors? Or a mix of both? The staff in this show don’t look that much older than the people they’re supposed to be motivating and leading, and quite frankly I would only follow any one of them out of curiosity.

  2. Well good for you, Leticha. I’ve reviewed a television programme, and you will see most of my comments pertain to the choices of the producers. I’m comfortable with my comments and as anyone who goes into reality learns the views of the media and/or public are unlikely to be uniformly enthusiastic.

    I’d hope the producers and publicists had talked you guys through this.

    If my criticisms of the TV show (and not you personally) are troubling then it may perhaps suggest that TEN is unfair in putting people into situations which they are possibly ill-prepared. Putting people under the age of 18 into reality isn’t just about looking after them for the shoot, it’s about supporting them through the media experience afterwards as well.

    If you feel that media criticism of the show is a personal attack then I’d probably have a talk to the show Publicist. Trust me, there will be a lot more comment on this once it is more widely seen. That’s the reality.

    Hope you found the experience worthwhile, good luck with everything.

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