Released August 10, the new Original Netflix Series “Insatiable” has sparked debate across multiple platforms about its “toxic influence.”
The series follows Patty, as she is the target of high school bullying by other students for being “fat”. However, an accident causes her to get her jaw wired shut, forcing her to lose weight.
Now that she is more popular, she seeks revenge on all those who underestimated or made fun of her from the start. Actress Debby Ryan plays the lead character, Patty, as she seeks redemption by entering beauty pageants in effort to prove herself.
When the trailer was first released on July 19, the show received backlash for fat- shaming. A petition to stop the show’s release date was even attempted on the grounds that the show was “toxic.”
Started by Florence Given, he petition she said the show should be stopped because, “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.”
The petition did not gather enough signatures to cancel the series before it came out, but with 233,467 signatures already on the board, Netflix might soon have to evaluate the show’s future.
Insatiable also received backlash for its perceived toxicity in highlighting self-image through the eyes of a young teen, telling them the only way to be truly beautiful and happy is to be thin. Many condemned the show saying it reinforces the idea that a young girl’s value resides in their physical appearance.
Ryan, the actress, told Teen Vogue magazine that she is surprised at the amount of disapproval and attack the show is receiving. “We knew that this conversation needed to be had.”
Ryan goes on to say “We knew that this societal brokenness needed to be addressed, but we didn’t know how badly it needed to be addressed. My friend, a few days before the trailer hit, said, ‘The size of the reaction is the size of the wound,’ and it stayed with me.”
While Insatiable is receiving considerable backlash, others said the show addresses concerns that have plagued young girls for too long.
“Anything that you say and do [while] trying to find yourself as a young girl can be taken out of context and used against you,” Ryan told the magazine. “You can’t find your value and your identity in other people’s perception of you.”
The New York Times said Netflix’s Vice President for Original Series, Cindy Holland, defended the show as a satire meant to critique the act of fat-shaming. The show’s creator, Lauren Gussis, told Vanity Fair magazine the show was actually the opposite of what people say it represents.
“Patty’s actually more miserable because now she doesn’t have any protection. She has no tools. People assume things about her because she looks a certain way, but she doesn’t know who she is; she never really did.” Gussis said.” She focused all her attention on what things would be like ‘if only.’ Then she gets the ‘if only,’ and it doesn’t fix her. Now she’s even more mad and devastated, so she’s behaving very badly.”
Gussis said the show isn’t about a girl who became skinny and now gets everything she wants. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin no matter what.