Insatiable: A confused script in a fatsuit, has Netflix missed the memo with this one?
The Debbie Ryan starrer looks like the run of the mill coming of age series with a bullied protagonist that turns her life around -- but it is much more problematic than that
Netflix's upcoming series 'Insatiable' has stirred up quite a storm. The trailer that released last week elicited the wrath of people on the internet who seem to have a couple of issues with this new Debbie Ryan starrer.
The plot follows Bob, "a disgraced, dissatisfied civil lawyer-turned-beauty pageant coach" who decides to help Patty, "a vengeful, bullied teenager" as his client without really knowing, just like Netflix in this case, that he's about to open a Pandora's box.
Debbie dons a fatsuit and gets bullied as an overweight teen before shedding the pounds and materializing as a skinny version of herself and suddenly becomes the talk of the town. While this seems like your run of the mill coming of age series with a bullied protagonist who turns her life around, it is much more problematic than that.
Created and written by Lauren Gussis, who is credited with writing Showtime's 'Dexter' and NBC's 'E-Ring,' the series has received the green light for thirteen episodes. In the trailer, we are introduced to "Fatty Patty" as she studies herself in a mirror with noticeable disgust. A narration by Patty guides us through her bullied high school life in which she is fat shamed and compared to a pig - "smells like bacon." However, Fatty Patty engineers a turnaround and then she turns into a revenge machine and she clearly has fun.
The plot of 'Insatiable' is nothing fresh. A story told and re-told a thousand times in a thousand ways, this is an uncomplicated teenage drama that has been revamped with new faces and newer wardrobes. The concept is the same - one cannot be strong, powerful and have self-worth unless they meet society's standards of beauty aka being skinny.
After the series was slammed by twitterati to an extent that they started a petition to cancel it, the people behind the show defended their stand, understandably.
Alyssa Milano, who plays the wife of the beauty pageant coach, tweeted, "We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up."
This statement begs a counter question - is Patty unable to stand up for herself when she is her plus-size self? More importantly, why is the story propagating the concept that one needs to be conventionally attractive to fight back, when it claims it is trying to showcase the "damage that occurs from fat shaming"? This seems to be one hell of a confused script, from the looks of the trailer.
While the show may have tried to address the way society looks at the Pattys of the world, the audience clearly begs to differ. And they are quite justified as well. It is one thing to intend to do something and it is entirely another to be able to execute. It is, perhaps, the flawed concept that is bringing about the backlash. It appears problematic how her personality changes as her weight does - indicating that being fat is a personality trait. That directly clashes with the concept of empowerment, doesn't it? Is it unacceptable to be fat?
There's also a petition that is being signed, which has 110,422 signatures and counting asking Netflix to stop the series' release on August 10.
The petition says, "The toxicity of this series, is bigger than just this one particular series. 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."
The other issue that the audience has is the fact that it was a skinny girl in a fatsuit, pretending to play dress-up. This reminds me of a similar situation recently, one that had the LGBTQIA+ community riled up. Scarlett Johansson's role in the mobster biopic 'Rub & Tug' left her in the eye of the storm after the announcement that she had been cast in the film to play the role of a transgender person, because, well, she isn't one. She backed away from the role following the backlash, paving the way for a transgender actor to play the role.
The question of the community was simple - why can't a person who is not considered the norm have a chance to speak their own truth? This comes ringing back to one's ears as we discuss 'Insatiable'. Isn't it a much bigger value add to cast someone who knows what it's like to really walk in Patty's shoes? This isn't even about plus size actors not being bankable and neither is it about them not being known faces. Think Rebel Wilson, Nikki Blonksy, and Gabourey Sidibe.
This story had the potential to be spun into something new. Like a plus sized woman finding her self-worth without pandering to society's impossible standards. With this particular instance, one must agree that 'I Feel Pretty', Amy Schumer's latest film has done exceedingly well. About time fat girls remain to be the 'before' in photographs, don't you think?
A Netflix original, it has definitely disappointed fans. This is the same streaming platform which has made woke shows like 'Dear White People', a fresh and piercing take on racism, 'Master of None', the Aziz Ansari starrer that lets minorities take center stage and more recently Hannah Gadsby's stand up special called 'Nanette' that is nothing short of awe-inspiring. With 'Insatiable,' Netflix appears to have certainly missed out on the woke factor this time.