Netflix’s “Insatiable” Sparks Debate Over Body Image

When Netflix first released the trailer for the show “Insatiableon July 19th, it created controversy for being fatphobic. The show stars Debby Ryan as Patty Bladel, an overweight girl nicknamed “Fatty Patty” who, after being punched in the face by a homeless man after a fight over a candy bar, has to get her jaw wired shut and as a result loses 70 pounds.Instead of focusing on her dealing with the weight loss in a positive manner, “Insatiable” shows Patty getting revenge on the people who made fun of her while she was fat. The unhealthy way that Patty handles her new body isn’t a good message for the young teenage girls that the show is targeted to.

Still, while the backlash behind “Insatiable” has good reasoning behind it, much of what the characters are being criticized for are parts of their personality. Some things said in the show are clearly not meant to be taken seriously, and most of the outrage comes from people who haven’t seen the show

The inclusion of a fat suit also rendered cast member Alyssa Milano’s statement about the show addressing the damage that occurs from fat shaming hypocritical.

“If you have to have someone with that body type, you shouldn’t exclude those actors…you should include them, and then have a separate person for when they’re not overweight,” said Grade 9 student Kat Christensen.

Plenty of shows use fat suits for comedic purposes and to portray being formerly obese as an embarrassing quirk of the character. While some shows may use them for a backstory behind a personality trait they may have, their past overweight selves are seen as a caricature of a fat person.

One thing many viewers ignore is that “Insatiable” was made to be satirical, and the jokes were intentionally controversial.  That being said, the jokes are still not comedic, and barely ever land.

Another fault of the show is its bad acting and directing. All twelve episodes of “Insatiable” are jam-packed with different plot lines that make it hard to follow. These include Patty getting an exorcism after thinking she has a demon inside of her and the dog bikini car wash fundraiser.

“Insatiable” also has many unnecessary characters who don’t contribute to the plot. While some develop more towards the end, many of them are one-dimensional in the earlier episodes.

“Nonnie, the gay friend, was an okay character,” said Kitty Tran, a Grade 9 student who also watched the show. “But in the beginning, her main focus was ‘she loves Patty, she loves Patty’ and there’s nothing else on her mind.”

After watching the trailer, Patty’s weight loss seemed as if it was going to be the most problematic topic on the show, but when it was released, Patty’s never-ending desire to be thinner ended up being the more controversial subject.  

In episode five, Patty has to wear a bikini for her fundraiser and starts feeling self-conscious about her body. A transgender woman discovers her and comforts her by talking about her struggles as a transgender woman. The two walk into the fundraiser confidently, while everyone stares in awe of Patty’s amazing body. Instead of sending a message to young girls about being confident no matter how they look, this scene turns Patty’s moment of body acceptance into a joke.

Numerous times throughout the show, Patty is shown walking or licking her lips in slow motion, wearing revealing clothes that show off her newly slim figure. The show’s attempts at comedy are always vulgar or about Patty’s old body.

Tina Rowden/Netflix

Despite the writers’ good intentions, they are trying to please two very different audiences at the same time. They try to show the viewers that Patty doesn’t change who she is after losing weight, while simultaneously trying to create drama by showing how differently she acts after her transformation.  

“Insatiable” doesn’t necessarily fat shame Patty, but the show could have been better with if it had fewer jokes about her weight loss, a more consistent message, and a straightforward storyline. Hopefully, the show will do so in its second season.