THE DUFF Trailer: There Was A Day When Someone Cast Mae Whitman As An “Ugly, Fat” Character

"DUFF" stands for "Designated Ugly, Fat Friend," and this is Mae Whitman how?

I haven't read Kody Keplinger's YA novel The Duff (you can read the FYA review here), but I do know, because this trailer tells us, that "DUFF" stands for "Designated Ugly, Fat Friend." And in this world - this totally weird world where the 26-year-old Robbie Amell, who has recently played a dead, formerly engaged scientist on The Flash, is a high schooler - in this world Mae Whitman is The Duff. MAE WHITMAN, who is tiny and adorable by anyone's standards. Her face is a little round and she wears baggie overalls (I laughed at the "Wreck It Ralph" line), but she is tiny. And adorable. 

Now, there's obviously an issue with calling a character who looks like Mae Whitman fat and ugly, especially in a movie projected toward teens who take words like that to heart. Some of the girls watching this movie will weigh more than Mae Whitman, and some will be less traditionally attractive than Mae Whitman, and they may think "If she's fat and ugly, what am I?"

All of that said, this designation has been given to Bianca, Whitman's character, by a high school boy - a jock, no less. And here's the thing: high school boys are morons. The Duff, to a high school boy, is any weird, interesting, sarcastic girl who doesn't fit into the easy boxes of teenaged systematization. It's the girl who wears PJs to school. I was The Duff, and I wasn't much bigger than Mae Whitman. But I was weird and grumpy and I wore PJs and represented exactly nothing of interest to the jocks at my school - and they represented exactly nothing of interest to me, either. By the time I graduated high school, I learned to be proud of that. 

So I guess The Duff could go a couple of ways. Obviously, the trailer has Bianca asking this jock for a makeover, but if I know high school movies (and I ought to by now), I think there's a good chance Bianca's going to learn that she's pretty excellent the way she is, and that it's okay if the morons at her school don't think she's hot. Being considered undateable by morons is a badge of honor, and Bianca seems like she's smart enough to figure that out.