More than 100,000 people have now signed a petition to cancel one of Netflix’s latest series, Insatiable.
The comedy-drama series, described by Netflix as a “dark, twisted revenge comedy” sees main character, Patty – nicknamed ‘Fatty Patty’ by classmates – played by Disney actress, Debby Ryan, rise from being a victim of bullying to being coached to become “the top pageant queen in the country”.
Within the controversial trailer, released 12th July, we watch as an overweight high school student (Ryan, aged 25, wore a fat suit while filming) is ridiculed for her weight to the point of physical violence. Following being punched in the face, ‘Fatty Patty’ is forced to spend the summer with her jaw wired shut because of her injuries. As Patty is heard explaining in the trailer, the recovery “lost me more than just my summer vacation”. We watch as Patty returns to school having lost weight as a result of having her jaw wired shut for months. As she returns ‘skinny’ she is now deemed a ‘hottie’ by class mates who once spent their time bullying her. Upon her return to school and upgrade in status, Patty vows to avenge her former self.
Feel a bit like deja vu? Yeah, we thought so too.
It’s a narrative we’ve heard a million times before. Judging from what’s shown in the trailer, Insatiable takes on a narrative of fat shaming that society had seemingly finally moved on from. The upcoming release of Insatiable questions this progress, suggesting society is taking steps backwards instead of forward in our attitudes to body positivity. This perception of the show led to a steady stream of negative feedback since the trailer was released.
“For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human that we must be thin,” writes Florence, who started the petition.
“We still have time to stop this series from being released, and causing a devastation of self-doubt in the minds of young girls who will think that to be happy and be worthy, they need to lose weight.
“This series will cause eating disorders, and perpetuate the further objectification of women’s bodies.”
Others including actress and and body positivity campaigner, Jameela Jamil, have also spoken out against the show. Jamil tweeted “Not very into the premise of Fatty Patty… a teenager stops eating and loses weight and then when “conventionally attractive” takes revenge on her schoolmates? This is still telling kids to lose weight to “win.” The fat shaming is inherent and pretty upsetting.”
The actress continued, “Kids who bully are just miserable, badly raised a*******s. It is not, and should not ever be YOUR problem that they have a problem with you. You don’t have to conform. You don’t have to placate. Revenge isn’t a good use of your time and energy. And starving yourself is 👎🏻”
Dana Suchow, former bulimia sufferer and founder of body positivity project #MyBodyStory posted a nine slide instagram carousel listing seven things she felt were wrong with Insatiable and its concept. These included the offensive nature associated with hiring a non-fat actor to play a fat person in a fat suit, saying that only a thin teenager is strong, confident and capable and the suggestion that physical violence is an ok response to bullying among other reasons.
Jumping to the show’s defence, creator Lauren Gussis claims the show is based on her own experiences as a teenager, asking people to give the show a chance following a statement that read, “When I was 13, I was suicidal. My best friends dumped me, I was bullied, and I wanted revenge. I thought if I looked pretty on the outside, I’d feel like I was enough. Instead, I developed an eating disorder…and the kind of rage that makes you want to do dark things.” She continues, “I’m still not comfortable in my skin…but I’m trying to share my insides – to share my pain and vulnerability through humour. That’s just my way.” The note ends, “The show is a cautionary tale about how damaging it can be to believe the outsides are more important – to judge without going deeper. Please give the show a chance.” The tweet was accompanied with the caption, “This is my truth.”
Both Debby Ryan and co-star Alyssa Milano posted their responses to the show’s negative reception via Twitter. Ryan stated, “As someone who cares deeply about the way our bodies, especially women’s, are shamed and policed in society, I was so excited to work on Insatiable because it’s a show that addresses and confronts those ideas through satire.”
“Satire is a way to poke fun at the hardest things, bring darkness into the light, and enter difficult conversations.”
Ryan continues, “I have to laugh at my pain, otherwise I’ll dissolve and weep and get stuck instead of working through it. It’s a coping mechanism and, for a lot of people who are telling these stories, a healing mechanism.
“Over the last few days I’ve seen how many voices are protective and fiercely outspoken about the themes that come into play in this story. I’m grateful for that, and comforted by it, because I want those stories told right too.”
Milano’s response read, “We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up.”
Meanwhile Netflix is yet to comment on the show and the criticism received.
Insatiable is set to be released 10th August.