Backlash continues for Netflix’s controversial new series “Insatiable”

Published On August 15, 2018 | By lindscharlton | Arts, Life, News

Netflix’s latest teen series Insatiable received backlash for body shaming before the show premiered. (braindamaged)

Lindsay Charlton

Netflix’s dark new comedy, Insatiable, premiered this weekend amid severe criticism from critics and audiences for it’s body shaming trailer.

The show sparked mass outcry when the trailer was released in July. Many suggested the show promoted “fat shaming” and a petition that garnered more than 230,000 signatures urging the series be scrapped before it started.

“I’m glad it was noticed and voiced loudly,” said body positive personal trainer and activist Jenna Doak. “It means what we are doing is working.

“Seeing this content now strikes a chord in people whereas five to 10 years ago it would have been normal, unquestioned,” she said. “I haven’t seen this show, only the previews but from what I saw, the content being shown is basically teaching that fat means bullied, fat means insecure, unpopular, and you can be better and different, more respected when you are thin.”

The teen-based show follows protagonist Patty played by Debby Ryan, a girl who loses weight after jaw surgery and seeks revenge on those who bullied her while participating in a beauty pageant.

Critics of the show cited fat shaming as the main point of contention with the plot and questioned whether the weight loss aspect of the story was necessary.

“That’s what we need to see. A ‘fat girl’ just owning her damn self, sticking up for herself, believing in herself and achieving all her damn dreams just the way she is,” Doak said. “That is what’s happening in real life and a tv show about this could be extremely rewarding and life-altering to many many girls and women.”

The creator and cast of Insatiable responded to the controversy, defending the series by asking naysayers to hold judgement until the show airs. They claimed the narrative addresses issues critics say are being promoted.

“Yes, I am showing the trope, so that then we can comment on it. Because if you don’t show the trope, then you can’t comment on it, because you don’t have context. But I think over the course of the season, this isn’t a story that we’ve seen before,” show-runner Lauren Gussis told The Hollywood Reporter.

Doak believes this theme may not have the same space on television as it used to.

“I do think comedy has changed, is changing, and needs to change,” she said. “People are much more aware of what is right, what is wrong and what is ‘funny’ these days. I guess you could say people are more ‘woke.’

“People deserve these opinions, and voices and the media/tv/movie industry needs to smarten up and follow suit,” Doak said.

Based on critic comments the show has been receiving post-premiere, Insatiable may have missed the mark on the story it sought to convey. Instead, critics went so far as to call it “the worst Netflix original series released” in part due to it’s offensive content.

Insatiable’s been accused of misrepresenting and misunderstanding teenagers, falling in the same vein as Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” which had many in an uproar about the series representation of teen suicide.

Viewers, however, are a bit more forgiving. While the show received a mere 13 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score is much more generous at 79 per cent. Many viewers online came to the show’s defence and argued people may be taking the series for more than it is while not seeing the commentary through the satire.

Patrice Oppliger, assistant professor of mass communication at Boston University, told Humber News shows should avoid blatant harm to viewers.

“On the other hand, media would be pretty bland if all those topics were taboo. Comedy has always been a place to play with stereotypes and push boundaries,” Oppliger said.

She said the show attempts to poke fun at diet culture itself.

“Patty gave a good speech in episode four where she admits she ate her pain and gained weight as a barrier. I thought that was an honest assessment,” Oppliger said.

It is unclear if the show will be renewed for a second season.

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