Here's why 'Dietland' deserved to be renewed over 'Insatiable'
Netflix's 'Insatiable' and AMC's 'Dietland' both featured fat heroines but only 'Insatiable' is up for renewal and fans are not happy about the news
'Insatiable,' made news even before it premiered on August 10, as thousands had already signed the petitions to cancel before it aired. But the show made it anyway and scored 11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Much to the dismay of the audience, the series has been renewed for the second season, even though no one asked for it. On the other hand, 'Dietland' that also featured a "fat" protagonist, was hailed for the character's portrayal of a genre-bending feminist dramedy, with a rating approval of 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes has been canceled after the 10-episode run first season.
'Dietland,' the "fat-positive" drama the world needed was a socially relevant show that appealed to a lot of women in general as it broke down stereotypes of those working in the beauty industry. This social commentary was adapted from Sarai Walker’s debut novel of the same name published in 2015. Though the reviews on the book were not raving, the plot was highly praised for being authentic and a true representation of an oversized woman, without unrealistic characteristics especially that of a loser with a need to undergo major physical change.
Even though the series begins with the protagonist obsessed to lose weight, the theme is starkly different; it is about self-acceptance and societal revolution. The plot follows Plum Kettle (Joy Nash), a ghostwriter struggling with body-image desperately wanting to undergo gastric bypass surgery. It may sound like the show is giving a nod for an obese woman to put her body through pain to achieve the much-desired slim look, 'Dietland' instantly makes it clear how toxic the fantasy is. This is where the baffling difference between the two shows, one renewed and another, not renewed, can be pointed out.
'Dietland' does explore body hatred but does not reflect the hate back to the audience. On the other hand, 'Insatiable,' not only delves into Patty’s self-loathing but suggests that her self-hate was justified and that it's okay to hurt the body to get the much-desired look and revenge.
While the plot of 'Insatiable,' was nothing new, 'Dietland' was a refreshing take on "fat" protagonist that could have changed the way television portrayed oversized women. With only ten episodes, 'Dietland' has been groundbreaking and without a second season to look forward to, we still cannot dismiss the positive messages that were sent our way.
This is a punch to the gut: https://t.co/H642BWuyMi. It has been an absolute privilege to work on this show. Thank you to everyone who watched & continue to share your stories about how #Dietland has validated your experiences in this crazy world. Channel the rage. We will. pic.twitter.com/KsCbR9WB2P— Melissa Navia (@melissaCnavia) September 20, 2018
The entire premise of 'Dietland' was to ensure that fat women were viewed differently. The author of the feminist classic, Sarai Walker, was asked which movie characters she has seen herself in and in an interview to Guardian, it is highlighted; “My answer was: ‘I’ve never seen that’ … I’ve never had that connection, a character that reflected me as a fat person. It was always the opposite for me; cringing, you know? Like with Fat Monica from Friends. There would be this dread while watching – ‘Oh, God, there’s not going to be a fat person in this, is there? I know I’ll be humiliated."
This also reminded us of the nicknames and characters fat people are linked with including Jabba the Hutt; Ursula ('The Little Mermaid'); Big Bertha the Bouncer at the Boom Boom Bar ('Super Mario Bros'); Sherman Klump ('The Nutty Professor'); Tracy Turnblad ('Hairspray'); Precious - the fat vampire from 'Blade.' So when the writer of the show Lindy West was looking for a positive fat role model for 'Dietland,' she came up with Mrs Potts, the teapot from 'Beauty and the Beast.'
A 2009 study even found that size discrimination in the U.S. had increased by 66 percent over the previous decade so with AMC's 'Dietland' there was hope as Walker pointed out, a "change in culture." "That we’re going to see more fat people and smarter portrayals of fat people,” Walker affirmed.
The cultural shift immediately took place when AMC cable, known for the alpha-male protagonists in 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad' and 'The Walking Dead,' took over 'Dietland,' a series led by female characters. As the show kicked in, love for the show poured in from all corners, especially by those who could relate to Plum Kettle, a funny, tortured, brilliant woman who had tried every weight-loss remedies including cabbage soup and green tea.
This incisive critique of weight-loss culture comes with an added timely plot of #MeToo. As Plum tries to get her editor to recognize that she’s a talented writer deserving of her own byline, she’s contacted by a mysterious woman who tells her that she has been noticing subtle anarchic undertones in her ghostwriting and wants to recruit her to a secret group devoted to “counterprogramming” against women’s magazines, which may or may not belong to a guerrilla women’s group known as "Jennifer" that’s murdering known rapists and throwing their bodies from airplanes onto the streets of New York City.
This is actually a twisted satirical take of women fighting for their dignity and safety as all targeted men are abusers, rapists, revenge pornographers or violent harassers. During the time of #Metoo and #TimesUp, this show has made a remarkable impact highlighting the rape culture, misogyny, fat acceptance, impossible beauty standards, and self-love.
Recently, TV has been claiming about revolution but only one true revolution came in with 'Dietland,' where the fat protagonist did not have to change herself, be comic relief, a villain, a killer, or a sidekick, she was just a strong independent character who learned to love herself. The show further acknowledged that not all fat people want to lose weight and even if they do it is not to release the thin person within.
Fatphobia against women is presented as a form of degradation, humiliation, and violation, especially when it comes in the form of street harassment, unwanted touching, and/or “concern” from total strangers, and that's something we have never seen on TV before.
It is indeed, a sad thing that a show about a strong woman—written and directed by women—will not be returning to our small screens anymore, but something else that preaches "skinny is beautiful," and homophobic activities will be back for season 2 in 2019. Bad press is better than no press, hence proved.
AMC released a statement saying; “Dietland’ is bold, original and brave. We are beyond proud of our partnership with Marti Noxon, Joy Nash, Juliana Margulies, Skydance and everyone else involved in bringing Sarai Walker’s story to the screen... Similarly, Aisha Tyler and our friends at Embassy Row delivered a unique companion show that led with fresh voices and important topics. ‘Dietland’ garnered critical acclaim and passionate fans but unfortunately, we will not be able to continue with the second season.”
The demise of 'Dietland' has not gone well with the fans, so our only hope is there's a 'Freaky Friday' switch where 'Insatiable' renews as 'Dietland,' but that is only wishful thinking.
This is shitty news. Just yesterday I was talking to my students about how #Dietland charts, far more critically than most TV series, the complexities and contradictions present in least three strains of contemporary popular feminism. I was eager to see where the show was going. https://t.co/vvvT8Os28g— Sarah Rebecca Kessler (@moveablejaw) September 20, 2018
i woke up still mad that #Dietland was cancelled for literally no reason at all.— Candice Frederick (@ReelTalker) September 21, 2018
Fucking FUMING about dietland being cancelled. we finally get a show with a fat person as the lead where she doesn’t change her body, and a show about diet culture & mysogny & other fucked up shit and it gets fuxking cancelled. Fuck this shit.— bee 🐝 (@madetobebee) September 21, 2018