Insatiable: Netflix’s Latest Controversy

Netflix recently released a trailer for its upcoming series Insatiable and will release all 12 episodes of season 1 on August 10th. Unless you are the kind of person who avoids the internet, and I know you’re not, then you’ve probably already heard about the storm of outrage the trailer kicked up. I’m here to offer you a slightly different point of view on the trailer, the show, and the rush to judgment.

The main complaint you see is that the trailer, and by extension the show, fat shames its main character Patty, played by Debbie Ryan (Jessie, Sing It!). What people seem to be missing is that the show isn’t fat shaming Patty, it is depicting a very real-world experience for many overweight teens. The show bills itself as a dark revenge comedy that looks to turn the mirror on bullying and show you its long-lasting effects. Just because you stop being mean to someone, and they get everything they thought they wanted, doesn’t mean you haven’t done lasting damage.

Writer Lauren Gussis, who said that Patty is partially based on her own experiences, isn’t saying that Patty is more attractive or a better person because she has lost weight. Gussis simply wrote about how people perceive and treat Patty and those like her differently because of their appearance. Star Debbie Ryan responded to the scandal on her Instagram account calling the show’s humor, not based on shaming, but that it is a satire, and pokes fun at some of life’s hardest moments. She goes on to say that the show’s redemption lies in its identifying of bullies and says treating people like this is unacceptable.

I think it is great that people wanted to rush to the side of the heavyset and say, this is wrong, do better Netflix. I also think the people who are upset didn’t really pay attention to the trailer. They saw her overweight and mistreated at first, and then thin getting treated like a princess; so they got mad and stopped paying attention. Maybe they thought the show was going to be like She’s All That and instead of a haircut, contacts and a shopping spree to become hot, all Patty had to do was lose weight. I’m sure there be an element of that, but if you pay attention to the entire trailer or read/watch interviews with the cast and creators, you learn the show is supposed to be so much more.

Will the creators succeed in their plan to tackle bullying head-on? Will all the critics be right about the fat shaming? As of today, the only real answer is: I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. The reason we don’t know is that all we have seen at this point is less than 2 minutes of film that was pasted together from at least 6 hours of footage. Those 2 minutes were more than enough to upset people, lots of people! There is currently a petition to have the show pulled that has been over 170,000 signatures. Maybe it will be the fat shaming travesty the enraged believe it to be. However perhaps, after watching some of the show we’ll see they are shining a light on the damage society does to young women solely because of their weight. I applaud the staunch defense of others, but I implore people to take some time to gather all the facts and not just rush in shouting about evil and cancellation. A kind heart is a great place to begin; nevertheless, we should always include a little patience and nuance to our reactions. In the end, the problem isn’t Netflix, the trailer, or the show. The problem is society and its struggle to treat people fairly and to look below the surface.

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