If anybody was watching a lot of Netflix this summer than you very likely had seen the trailer for the show “Insatiable”. Upon seeing the trailer, many people immediately found the show problematic. The trailer shows a monologue from Debby Ryan talking about how her life was miserable, simply because she was plus-sized. She goes on about how it made her feel alienated and how much she hated it.
We then see her hit in the face by a homeless guy. Afterwards she is suddenly magically skinny after she has her jaw wired shut for the summer. Due to movie magic Ryan’s character, Patty is suddenly considered beautiful and considers what she is going to do. Her options: become popular, get into sports or something else. She instead decides to get revenge.
Based on the trailer alone, the series already seems troublesome. Debby Ryan plays a character who seems to be like Carrie White had she not developed telekinesis. However, once seeing the show you notice that Patty does not get violent revenge. Instead of murder she decides to compete in beauty pageants.
At first glance, the premise looks confusing and the trailer is very deceiving. This can easily infuriate many viewers in it of itself. The trailer and the show have also been under massive controversy as it has been widely believed that the show was promoting fat shaming and that it sent a harmful message that one must be thin to be considered beautiful.
The show had defended itself stating that they were trying to be satirical about the subject. The creator had said that she herself has struggled with body image issues of her own and believed the show had a powerful message to deliver.
Another concerning aspect of the show is the ignorant portrayal of numerous social issues. We first see Pageant Coach Bob Armstrong be accused of sexual assault on a child, something horrifying that happens in the real world. This is used as a joke and a way to vilify an angry pageant mother. The writers also seem to think LGBT stereotypes and reinforcing the idea that bisexuality is not real is funny. Further, we get insensitive jokes about cancer, negative stereotypes regarding people who speak with southern accents, references to statutory rape and blatant racial insensitivity.
Not only is the message problematic, but the characters are as well. Not a single character is likable whatsoever. For example, Patty, her mother and Cora Lee are all cruel and selfish and Noni is used as no more than a homophobic joke. Stella Rose acts like she’s reading from a community college textbook on “How to be Evil”. Christian, someone whose acting was somewhat better and was more convincing, plays a creep. Too bad he wasn’t charming. Bob Armstrong is another selfish and greedy character using Patty for nothing more than material gain.
When I was talking about racial insensitivity, I was mostly referring to the characters Donald Choi and Dee. Dee is a plus-sized, African-American, lesbian beauty pageant competitor. There is nothing wrong with Dee being any of those things but when she is used as nothing more than a token to educate the other girls and not given any personality of her own, it becomes disappointing. Sadly, it’s as if there was no care put into her characterization.
Donald Choi is problematic because he is based entirely on negative Asian-American stereotypes. He is characterized as an uncool, unsexy friend to the girls and not given any individual character or personality.
“Insatiable” has very few redeeming qualities and an ultimately problematic plot, making it a complete time-waster.