Recently, Netflix has been under fire for shows that many deem harmful toward their impressionable, adolescent target audience. “13 Reasons Why” was the first show to really spark controversy, and the latest addition to everyone’s reasons to boycott Netflix is the upcoming high school dramedy series, “Insatiable.”
“Insatiable” stars Debby Ryan as Patty, an overweight teen who is constantly bullied for her body. One summer, Patty gets in an accident that results in her having to get her jaw wired shut. This causes her to lose a lot of weight and become “hot” in the eyes of her peers. Everyone that once harassed her now wants to be her friend, and Patty uses her newfound popularity to get revenge on her bullies.
The first trailer released for the series was met with serious backlash by critics, who claimed that the show encouraged fat shaming and could potentially push teens to eating disorders. Many people believe that “Insatiable” supports the notions that fat people are unattractive and a person is only worth anything based on their looks being accepted by others.
Here’s the thing. I am a fat girl. I wear a size 16, my thighs touch and I’ve got a double chin that I used to try hiding in selfies. Everyone is telling me that I should be offended by “Insatiable,” but trust me when I say that I sincerely am not. In fact, I’m waiting with anticipation for the show’s release on Aug. 10.
While I can see where the detractors are coming from (if I squint a little and cock my head to the right), I largely disagree with everyone’s statements against the series. What most view as the show’s fat shaming is simply reality, in my opinion. Yes, people get teased for being fat. Yes, thinner people are often viewed as more attractive. Shocking, I know.
I feel as though many are putting words in the show’s mouth, figuratively speaking. They are associating a message they’ve extrapolated from the trailer that the show itself has not explicitly communicated.
For example, in the trailer, after Patty loses weight, she thinks about what her new identity could be in the school, saying, “Now, I could be the former fatty who turned into a brain. Or an athlete. Or a princess.” Many have taken this line as an insult towards fat people, putting them into a box as though “fat” is the only thing they can be.
I do not think that this is what Patty feels about herself. Rather, the line is in reference to how she is viewed by her classmates. Once again, the show is pointing out a reality. There are a lot of fat kids in school who are only remembered for their weight. It’s unfortunate, yes, but it happens. Should “Insatiable” filter what is based on real experiences simply because some people’s feelings are hurt?
My answer to this is a resounding “hell no.” While I wasn’t known as “the fat girl” back when I was in high school, there were times when I was teased about my weight, though not as badly as Patty seems to be based on the trailer. Sadly, fat people getting harassed about their weight is a part of their lives, and I’m excited to see a show that goes into someone’s reaction to this after losing weight.
Oftentimes, when a likeable or relatable character is treated unfairly in a show or movie, the viewers would like nothing more than to see them fight against their enemies. “Insatiable” is a show that will depict this. In some ways, I expect it will be very satisfying to watch. But as is often the case with revenge tales, everything only goes according to plan for so long. Soon, the protagonist will have to learn that vengeance is not a healthy coping mechanism.
Individuals have spoken out against “Insatiable’s” revenge plotline, calling it a bad example for young viewers and a toxic path for the show’s main character. I mean…duh. I think the creators of the show are aware that revenge is not a good choice for Patty. That’s the whole point! It’s more than likely that viewers will see her grow over the span of the episodes, but how is that supposed to happen if she doesn’t make any mistakes to learn from?
I feel that it is important for a person to love themselves regardless of what they look like. Obviously, a fat person can lose weight if they are unhappy with their body, but this should not happen out of self-hate. For the present, the person is fat. Weight loss is a journey that takes time and self-loathing is bound to make said journey miserable and an unhealthy mental experience.
Insecurities do not vanish with the extra pounds when a person loses weight. Learning to love oneself is essential. “Insatiable” seems as though it will touch on this oft-ignored topic when it comes to discussions of body positivity in television and films.
In the short featurette Netflix released soon after the controversial trailer, “hot” Patty is seen approaching a swimming pool in a bikini. Her friend remarks on how they should feel, trying to give off a confident and empowered air. However, Patty reveals that she actually feels self-conscious, and the friend agrees, with both girls covering up hastily.
This brief glimpse of what the show has to offer was met with my approval. It shows that anyone can feel imperfect, “hot” or not. Clearly, losing weight has not helped Patty be happier with herself and her body. Confidence is a mindset, and I really hope that the series emphasizes this as Patty comes into her own.
So, while everyone else is browsing Hulu or watching cable on Aug. 10, I’ll be opening up my laptop and settling in for 13 hours of Netflix. I have high hopes that “Insatiable” will be worth the binge, filled with humor, relatability and touching moments alike.