Since Netflix first began releasing trailers for its new show Insatiable, cast members like Debby Ryan and Alyssa Milano have made desperate attempts to defend it against the overwhelming amount of critiques it’s gotten, saying that it’s actually meant to highlight the negative impact of fat-shaming rather than perpetuate it.
“Look at the show as a satirical look at what could happen if you’re fat-shamed, if you are bullied,” Milano said on Good Morning America, “and I really think that it’s about appearances and what happens within our interactions with our appearances.”
As much as I hate to admit it, she is right about a few things. The show certainly centers around appearances and how people act and react based on them. And the show’s satirical nature does become apparent the longer one watches it — if they can make it past the first episode, that is.
It begins with Patty — Debby Ryan — describing her struggles with weight since the age of eight. Mere seconds into the pilot episode we see the kind of torment she’s subjected to at school, as her peers call her names like “Fatty Patty” and compare her to a pig. This leads to nights spent severely binge-eating with her best friend Nonnie, and watching Drew Barrymore movies on repeat. We’re then introduced to Bob Armstrong — Dallas Roberts — a well-off lawyer who had the perfect family and life until he was falsely accused of child molestation of a teenage beauty pageant contestant. So as far as pilot episodes go, Insatiable definitely went zero to 100 real quick.
Not only does Insatiable perpetuate body-shaming, reduce women to their looks and joke about child molestation, but it completely dehumanizes homeless people as well.
The classic comedic trope of having a thin person wear a fat suit has been done and redone so many times before it’s actually exhausting. While people once considered it hilarious, many of us now recognize the negative impact this trope has on actual people who are overweight or obese and struggle with seeing their body type mocked by popular media.
One of the craziest things about Insatiable is it also implies that it’s rare to be overweight, although this is entirely untrue. We don’t get to see any other overweight people in the show besides “Fatty Patty”—in the pilot episode at least—and it seems as though the world is made up of nothing but model-esq beauties. Not only that, but a large plot hole in the pilot occurs when, after Patty loses weight from having her jaw wired shut for three months and being on a liquid diet, she doesn’t appear to struggle with cravings or binge-eating at all. As if being fed only liquids for 12 weeks was enough for her to quit wanting actual solid foods. These unrealistic portrayals of weight-loss and body representation are just one reason why the show is so difficult to watch.
As if that isn’t enough, Bob’s struggle with child molestation accusations are clearly meant to be funny but are just the opposite. Several jokes about the accusations are made when Patty falls in love with him and hopes to seduce him because of his reputation around younger girls. Later on in the pilot episode, there’s even almost a scene involving statutory rape, but it doesn’t follow through. Yet the show makes a clear mockery of child molestation accusations and inappropriate relationships between young girls and grown men, in a way normalizing and reducing the severity of it.
While this show may have some redeeming qualities in terms of satirical content, most of it is just too cringe-worthy to watch. However, the show is still currently trending on Netflix and may even be brought back for a season two.