All Hail Hurley!
By Nick Mamatas
Fat men have been a television tradition since Jackie Gleason twinkle-toed across the screen in glorious black and white, and since those halcyon days character development for fat, nerdy characters hasn’t budged an inch. There were two choices: (1) belligerent husband or (2) woebegone scorch, the butt of every joke and cream pie to the face. Occasionally, “sensitive” portrayals were in order, so we might have a young obese boy weep at being called names, only to redeem himself later by winning a pie-eating contest or by being the anchor on the winning tug-o-war team. (The opponents, inevitably bourgeois to a lad, illegally used a tree stump for their anchor.)
On the first episode of Lost, Hurley was clearly going to be the fat comic-relief character. He was one of the few to stand out in the first ten minutes of the pilot, filled as it was with people running around and screaming “Aaaaaaah!” while the cameras shook and jittered. What a thrill it was, as the first season of Lost progressed, that Hurley ended up being something more.
Of course, there is still plenty of comic relief in the character. His backstory lacks the melodrama of Kate’s or Sawyer’s, and makes up for it with unadulterated gonzo. His first flashback episode, “Numbers (1-18),” shows us Hurley, going by his real name Hugo Reyes, sitting on a couch, being berated by his mother. Why isn’t he going out with his friends, she demands to know. Mothers are blind. We all know exactly …