The new Netflix original series “Insatiable” has met mixed criticism regarding the show’s tasteless message and shaky storyline. Released on Aug. 10, the story follows Patty Bladell, played by Debby Ryan, as an overweight, cliché high school nerd who loses 70 pounds after a homeless man breaks her jaw. Her unexpected weight loss catapults her into popularity, which she uses to seek revenge on her peers by manipulating them with her newfound physical beauty. Before the show’s release, the trailer sparked backlash from viewers and even generated a petition on Change.org with over 234,000 signatures to revoke it from Netflix, due to concerns about its toxicity regarding diet culture and objectification of women’s bodies.
The message behind “Insatiable” promotes body shaming and implies there are positive outcomes from eating disorders. After Bladell dramatically loses weight, she is instantly seen as desirable by her male peers. Her new physical beauty leads her to good fortune and new opportunities. However, the creator of the show, Laura Gussis, insists that the show is highlighting the issue of teen bullying and insecurity with satirical intentions.
“This show is a cautionary tale about how damaging it can be to believe the outsides are more important—to judge without going deeper. Please give the show a chance,” Gussis said on Twitter.
Although the creators may have had intentions of irony, any such attempt is masked by content such as offensive body shaming comments and degrading humor. The toxicity presented by the show has no place in the eyes of impressionable young girls.
Frankly, the show is chaotic and confusing. With an unorganized storyline and unnecessarily dramatic events, the show is difficult to follow. In the first 20 minutes of the pilot, the viewer is strung along for a lawsuit with a homeless man, multiple incidents regarding molestation and statutory rape, beauty pageants, attempted arson and charity events for anal cancer. As the episodes progress, the plot grows increasingly bland; the show compensates with radical twists as a way to shock the audience into entertainment. For example, in episodes seven and eight, Bladell learns that she absorbed her twin in the womb, which she believes is the source of her demonic behavior. At the same time, Bladell’s lawyer, love interest and beauty pageant coach has an affair with his male enemy. The soap opera-esque drama at times attributes to the appeal of the show. With its shocking unpredictability, the plot can be compared to a car accident you cannot look away from.
Riddled with cringey southern accents, the show tries to compensate for poor acting with constant voice-overs. The dialogue is confusing and sporadic, so regular narration is a must in order to convey the events that are unfolding. In the pilot, narration takes up the first two minutes and 11 seconds of the episode, a poor substitute for actually developing the background and introducing characters. Although it is overused, at times the narration fosters a sense of situational irony, giving the viewer more information than is known to the characters.
The show’s humor could be appealing to some audiences, but the overlying problems are far greater than the positives. The plot lacks a strong base, leading the writers to resort to shock humor. Themes including intimate relationships with minors, high school angst and beast-to-beauty transformations are overused and lack entertainment value. The connotations of “Insatiable” are unavoidable, despite the creators’ intentions, and are reasonable cause to skip this show when browsing through Netflix releases.