Growing up as a fat kid it was always tough to find role models. I tried idolizing people like Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials. Then I found out he was long dead from cocaine. Something happened in the 1990s though. Video games got better which meant kids stopped exercising as much. Suddenly there were fat kids everywhere. I could turn on my favorite kid’s shows and see someone as fat as me having adventures and actually having friends. It gave me hope. It also gave me something to look at while I ate ice cream.
Danny Tamberelli – Little Pete – The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Little Pete never let his weight get in the way of any adventures he would have. I don’t think being a chubby kid was even brought up ever. There’s no denying it though, Little Pete Wrigley was probably picked on by classmates for not being thin. Kids are cruel like that. I think the best thing about Little Pete was how anti-authority he was. Even with two disabilities, being overweight and having red hair, Little Pete never let it stop him. Danny himself doesn’t seem like he’s much different from Pete. On Figure it Out he was always funny and even these days he does sketch comedy. Is it weird that I admit I actually created a role for him to play in a TV pilot I wrote? Yes. Yes it is.
Patrick Renna – Ham – The Sandlot
Unlike Little Pete, Ham had three disabilities. He was overweight, he had red hair, and he has too many freckles. His parents also couldn’t apparently afford pants because he always wore shorts. Or maybe his calves were just that fat. Patrick Renna played more than the catcher in The Sandlot. He also was the goalie in the film Big Green. Patrick suffered typecasting based on playing sports and more specifically the position a fat kid would play. When I was fat kid I played catcher and goalie a lot. Ham was basically my hero. I thought it was a little mean all the kids were essentially calling him “sliced pig meat.” It was the 1960s though. I’m sure they called the black kid much worse names.
Andrew Lawrence – TJ Detweiller – Recess
The cartoon character TJ Detweiller wasn’t fat when compared to his friend Mikey, but he certainly had a nice gut going. I liked TJ because although he had some chubs going he never established himself as the fat kid in the group. TJ was a leader and he even got the girl sometimes when Recess wanted to make things a little sexual. I’m not sure if I ever created a kid’s cartoon that I would draw anyone fat. It seems a little mean to actually create someone with health issues.
Shaun Weiss – Goldberg – The Mighty Ducks
Goldberg is mainstream. I have seen a person with a Goldberg hockey jersey. He was best known for farting in Gordon Bombay’s car while driving in the ice but Goldberg was known for so much more. Without him at the helm the Ducks never would have won. In the third movie he even learned how to coexist with Julie “The Cat” Gaffney. In fact, and here’s a spoiler alert, in the third Mighty Ducks movie Goldberg moves out from playing goalie to get more playing time. He also ends up scoring the winning goal against the varsity team. Totally embarrassing but I got chills writing this. I wish that was a joke. Shaun Weiss also had a popular role in the film Heavyweights which pretty much brought together all fat kids who could act. An even stranger Shaun Weiss connection I know, he played a flower delivery man on an episode of City Guys where D2: The Mighty Ducks villain Gunnar Stahl got his first break. Someday scientists will open up my brain and see how much I wasted it.
Michael Bower – Donkey Lips – Salute Your Shorts
When your accepted nickname is Donkey Lips you better be one fatass. Donkey Lips was just that. For some reason I always assumed Donkey Lips was a lot older than the rest of the campers because he weighed twice as much. I also swore he was part retarded. How could someone so large accept a mean nickname like this without at least hurting one person? I remember one episode where Donkey Lips tried losing weight which he couldn’t manage to do because it would change the entire show’s element. You can’t have a show with a guy named Donkey Lips going around looking like a stud.