Netflix's 'Insatiable' destroyed the hope that TV could catch up with body positivity rendered by music and fashion industry
'Insatiable' is lethal, not only because it perpetuates eating disorders and objectifies women but also because over 71 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are obese.
Earlier this year when 'I Feel Pretty' hit the theatres, a sigh of relief echoed around the world because for once, Hollywood was not showcasing an overweight person as a slob who got a chic makeover and had her way. As close as Hollywood seemed revolutionary, parting ways with the stereotypical persona of protagonists determined by their waistlines, Netflix's newest original 'Insatiable' was a step back into what movies were before Amy Schumer or Lena Dunham brought a reality check. However, the audience refuses to find enjoyment in fat-shaming. Anymore.
Gone are the days when we found overweight characters amusing, slobs, sidekicks or even funny. But the ugly truth is, that kind of entertainment was once relished and was an integral part of pop culture. Remember Monica Geller in 'Friends' who, as 'Fat Monica' in high school was a slob, a hogger, a clumsy outcast who desperately wanted to be kissed? And once she shed her weight, or let's say, she got thin and ideal, her persona changed to that of clean and tidy person, all so elegant, all so graceful. Even recent sitcoms including 'New Girl' where the 'fat Schmidt' is a loser while the fit, muscular Schmidt is a cool and a desirable man.
Then there are reality shows like 'The Biggest Loser' that rewards people for losing weight. Then there's 'Revenge Body' and the idea that losing weight and looking sexy is the best way to make your ex regret breaking up with you. There are enough movies propagating that and when actors like Schumer and Dunham decided to pave a new route for bringing entertainment without fat shaming, Hollywood again reclined to zero stating that it's impossible to be fat and happy.
The very fact Netflix defended the plotline of 'Insatiable' proves that the entertainment industry is still caught up in the habituated fat-shaming culture that was dominant, before movies like 'I Feel Pretty' or 'Patti Cake$' came about, and that was only last year. Now the more conscious audience will not take anything that Hollywood throws on their screen.
The two-minute trailer of 'Insatiable', released last month, was enough to spark outrage that led to the creation of a petition that tens of thousands of people signed agreeing to the notion that the show will perpetuate eating disorders and further the objectification of women bodies. People signed up to a clarion call for the show to canceled before it airs on August 10. Netflix defended the controversial show as Netflix's Original Series vice president Cindy Holland stated that the show is not guilty of "fat-shaming," despite the backlash.
“Lauren Gussis, who is the creator, felt very strongly about exploring these issues based on her own experiences, but in a satirical, over-the-top way,” Holland stated. “Ultimately, the message of the show is that what is most important is that you feel comfortable in your own self. Fat-shaming itself, that criticism, is embedded in the DNA of the show."
We do not know the entire truth of the show but judging by the trailer, it is the same plot of a teen movie where an overweight teenage girl undergoes a dramatic physical transformation and becomes instantly popular. Holland's "over-the-top" statement refers to the teenager who is known as "Fatty Patty" seek revenge on the students who tortured her before she became thin and popular.
The show might have fared well if it appeared prior to 2015 or in another dimension but for something like 'Insatiable' to be given a green flag by a giant network like Netflix, shows all that is deep-rooted and wrong in our culture. Why couldn't "Fatty Patty" be as revengeful without losing weight? Why couldn't she be popular the way she was? Or why did she have to undergo an entire makeover to carry the confidence she always had? Quoting the cliche, Marilyn Monroe, was right to state that it's the society that is ugly.
Streaming a show like 'Insatiable' is lethal in America. Why? Because about 71 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The show with Debby Ryan, as the lead, could have done so much better and it clearly was not necessary to bring about the contrast of "Fatty Patty" and the thin one especially focusing on weight issues. Added to that the fat-suit is hardly assuring. They might have as well recruited an overweight actress for the role.
The story of 'insatiable' popular girl seeking revenge has so much potential to be a good watch minus the body-shaming act. If the show is about body positivity then take a cue from 'Patti Cake$' where the protagonist fully believed in her capabilities. According to Bustle, “Patti Cake$ actively frees Patti from the burden of being a bigger woman in a world where being that size is considered a flaw.”
This big flaw has been accentuated in 'Insatiable' and penetrated deep into Hollywood because there is a lack of acceptance of overweight protagonist and even overweight actors. Actors who are overweight are so confined to their roles in the industry and those who have to turn to a beautiful swan from, let's say, ugly duckling, are told to wear hideous fat-suit (mentioning again).
Think about Rebel Wilson for instance who rose to fame in the 'Pitch Perfect' film series because she played the role of "Fat Amy" But when she attempted to play a romantic heroine in the ABC sitcom 'Super Fun Night,' she was dismissed. She reprised her role in 'Pitch Perfect 3,' as 'Fat Amy.'
It is a known fact that there is a lack of opportunity for overweight actresses in America, but what is being done about it? At least in the music industry, we have artists like Adele, Meghan Trainor, Demi Lovato, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and Beyonce propagating body positivity. Even the fashion world is booming on plus size sales, but how is TV helping? 'Insatiable' is not the answer. Nobody wants it. Nobody asked for it.