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On July 19, Netflix released the trailer for its new show “Insatiable”, and many viewers were anything but satisfied.
The show focuses on a teenage girl, portrayed by Debby Ryan, dubbed “Fatty Patty” by her brash classmates who make each day for her harder than the last. After getting mugged and punched by a stranger and having her jaw-wired shut, Patty loses the weight her classmates bullied her because of, and now she’s free from criticism to become who she wants to be. And she wants to be the girl who gets revenge.
Activists have already signed a petition more than 200,000 times calling for the show to be cancelled due to its “body shaming.”
Florence Given, the creator of the petition, wrote that the series perpetuates the common narrative that women must be thin to be desirable and accepted.
“The toxicity of this series, is bigger than just this one particular series,” Given wrote. “This is not an isolated case, but part of a much larger problem that I can promise you every single woman has faced in her life, sitting somewhere on the scale of valuing their worth on their bodies, to be desirable objects for the male gaze. That is exactly what this series does. It perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women’s bodies.”
Given went on to warn that the series, and even the trailer, could cause young women to develop self-doubt and eating disorders.
Many on Twitter also complained about the show’s body-shaming, especially its use of an actress wearing a bodysuit.
— Aiyana Williams ♡ツ♬ (@AiyanicBond) July 20, 2018
this is a good example of why i grew up insecure and thought i would never be loved because of my size. give us a story where the fat girl stays fat, struggles, but learns to accept her body and overcomes societal standards. #insatiable https://t.co/v9WchYgKVG
— lacey (@geamxs) July 19, 2018
How about this, instead of #insatiable we replace it with a new series about @meghantonjes and how she’s living her best fat life and doesn’t need to seek revenge on people because the only good revenge is success.
— Savannah✨ (@GirlcraftWorld) July 20, 2018
Every single time we see horrifying fat hatred, thin people whine "but you haven't even seen the entire thing yet"
Hey girl. So we saw a fat suit.
And we saw a fat girl getting violently assaulted being played for laughs.
We know where this is headed.#INSATIABLE
— Mean Fat Girl 🏳️🌈💄 (@Artists_Ali) July 29, 2018
ONCE I AM THIN I will have friends.
ONCE I AM THIN I will fit in.
ONCE I AM THIN I will have a boyfriend/wear skirts/be confident/wear crop tops/be happy.
Anyone telling me the #INSATIABLE stuff 'aint that deep' hasn't been a teenage girl.
— Gill RepealED Greer (@Gilltopia) July 20, 2018
However, there are many who believe the show has an important story to tell and that we should give it a chance instead of judging it at first glance.
#INSATIABLE clearly shows the pressure of school bullies and fat shaming and how losing weight didn’t make her happy. yall SJWs want to cancel EVERYTHING without even giving it a chance
— mila (@buterasretro) July 20, 2018
What part of #Insatiable Is fat shaming? The realistic look at high school bullying? Speaking as a fat person, the show doesn’t offend me.
— Zachary Osterman (@ZacharyOsterman) July 20, 2018
Controversy surrounding #Insatiable actually makes me want to watch it. Why? Because I want to form my own opinion on it. Even if I end up agreeing. Petitioning to cancel/ban sth you disagree with is illiberal and petulant. Let the ratings decide.
— P. J. Benney (@pjbenney) July 24, 2018
I’d like to comment on the #insatiable controversy. I don’t think it is fat shaming anyone. The main character loses weight and feels good and confident. I went through the same radical weight loss she did when I was in high school and I became much more confident and happier too
— Andrew Rudy 🎧🎤 (@andrew_rudy) July 20, 2018
While critics see the show as doing the fat-shaming itself, Netflix executives say the show’s satirical nature helps it actually make fun of fat-shaming. Netflix’s Original Series Vice President Cindy Holland defended the show’s premise at the 2018 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
“[Creator Lauren Gussis] felt very strongly about exploring these issues, based on her own experiences, but in a satirical, over-the-top way,” Holland said according to Cinema Blend. “[Criticisms of fat-shaming are] embedded within the DNA of the show.”
Gussis said she’s been through this all before, losing friends, being bullied, being suicidal, seeking revenge, and that “Insatiable” is a cautionary tale.
— Lauren Gussis (@GussisLauren) July 21, 2018
Gussis’ cousin echoed the call for people not to judge the book by its cover and said the show will spark important discussions.
Everyone in my life, PLEASE WATCH. My cousin is Lauren Gussis, the creator, exec producer, etc. of this show. This has been her life for years. She is so proud. It’s going to be hilarious and thought provoking at the same time. Don’t judge anything at first glance. #insatiable pic.twitter.com/1f5BbjJTvW
— Lily Gussis (@LGussis) July 23, 2018
Ryan, the lead of the show, also defended the show’s satirical nature, saying that the “redemption is in identifying the bullies and saying ‘this is not okay.'”
Ryan continues on to say that Patty isn’t automatically different or happy because of her weight loss.
“We’re not in the business of fat shaming,” Ryan said. “We’re out to turn a sharp eye on broken, harmful systems that equate thinness with worth.”