The Creator Of The Controversial Netflix Show Insatiable Is Asking People To ‘Give It A Chance’
"This show is a cautionary tale."
By now, you’ve probably heard of the new Netflix show Insatiable, which has been causing all sorts of bother over the past few days.
It stars Debby Ryan (who you may remember from her days as a Disney star) as Patty, a teenager who is tormented at school for her weight – until she breaks her jaw, loses a ton of weight, gets ‘hot’, and decides she wants revenge.
Yep, that’s a thin actress in a fat suit in the year of our lord 2018. The trailer has caused no end of controversy since it was released last week – people have been tweeting their confusion over just what message it’s supposed to be promoting.
Ahhh yes, a fat girl could never stand up for herself while fat and of course she has to be assaulted and have her mouth wired shut before she becomes her best self, her skinny self. Good to know!
— roxane gay (@rgay) July 22, 2018
Debby Ryan re Insatiable: “Patty had the same brain, the same sense of humour and style, soul and heart [before weight loss]”.
If that’s the case, why does Patty only take her revenge & become a badass heroine when she’s thin?
— T’Chalia (@TaliaHibbert) July 22, 2018
the ideaology behind netflix’s Insatiable is that to get one up on your bullies you have to stop being the thing they were bullying you for and become what they want. having a skinny girl wearing a fat suit is harmful. the ideaology is harmful.
— stevie. (@___sephton) July 21, 2018
As an adult, this makes perfect sense. As a fat teen who sat alone binge eating in her room the only thing I'd have focused on is that a girl "gets hot" in one Summer. I used to daydream about going back to school thin and pretty so all other messages would have been lost on me.
— Sharon Leavy (@SharonLeavy1) July 21, 2018
Over 110,000 people have signed a petition calling on Netflix to cancel the show – the petition reads:
For so long, 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… we must be thin. [This series] perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women’s bodies.
Insatiable’s creator Lauren Gussis has responded to the backlash by sharing a little bit about what inspired the show, saying she spent her teenage years striving to look ‘pretty on the outside’.
“Instead, I developed an eating disorder… and the kind of rage that makes you want to do dark things,” she wrote. “This show is a cautionary tale about how damaging it can be to believe the outsides are important – to judge without going deeper. Please give the show a chance.”
— Lauren Gussis (@GussisLauren) July 21, 2018
Lead actress Debby Ryan, for her part, released a lengthy statement about her own struggles with body image, saying the show never uses fat-shaming humour, nor does the main character’s personality change after she gets thin (except it kinda does, cos she’s only confident enough to exact revenge once she loses weight).
— debbyryan (@DebbyRyan) July 21, 2018
But really, the problem here isn’t that people aren’t getting the show’s ‘looks aren’t everything’ message.
The problem is the fact that the ‘fat girl gets thin to show all the bullies’ trope has been done to death – a better, more inspiring story would be about a fat girl (played by a fat actress) deciding to live her best life as a fat girl, and enacting her ‘revenge’ in that way. It could still be as over the top and violent as you like, but genuinely say something about self-acceptance instead of trotting out the same old lines.
In fact, Netflix already has a more nuanced film about body image on its roster – Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, starring Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser as a teen who learns to love herself without losing weight or getting a big Hollywood makeover.
It remains to be seen if Netflix will cancel Insatiable (they probably won’t, let’s be real) but the controversy has hopefully given them something to think about. And no more fat suits, please.
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