Insatiable: how offensive is Netflix’s controversial new comedy?
Insatiable: How Offensive Is Netflix's Controversial New Comedy?
The story of a girl who loses weight and takes revenge on her bullies has already inspired an online petition for fat-shaming
One of the recurring images on Netflix’s new show, Insatiable, is that of the show’s heroine, Patty, played by Debby Ryan, gorging on food.” While my classmates were out losing their virginity ,” she says in the first episode,” I was at home stuffing another hole .” The show’s palpable disgust for Patty’s desire for food is visceral. Throughout the series, anytime Patty feels out-of-control, angry, desperate or sad, she immediately begins to binge, whether it’s handful of crawfish or gobs of birthday cake. Each hour Patty goes on a binge, the camera homes in on her mouth as she shoves food in it, in a way that seems both joyless and fetishistic. Patty’s mouth is the iconic image for the title scene, too. At the start of each episode we see her beautifully made-up mouth with the word “Insatiable” in front of it. In one opening, Patty holds a match between her lips. In others, we find her mouth biting or inhaling the words in front of it. Each day, the trailer shuts on her smile, as she depicts off perfectly white teeth.
Though the trailer for the series, which prompted a furious outcry among concerned spectators, seemed to suggest that this was a narrative of an overweight girl getting skinny and attempting retaliation on those who bullied her, Insatiable is more accurately a story of a young woman who has a binge-eating disorder. In fact, one of the more offensive aspects of the series( and there are many aspects that are offensive) is that fatness itself is synonymous with disordered eating. Throughout the series, Patty’s weight is perceived as a kind of moral failing, as evidence that her passions are just completely out of control. Certainly, one of the “jokes” of the series is that thin Patty is flailing just as much as “Fatty Patty” did. Though she suddenly has tons of positive reinforcement about her looks, she doesn’t feel good about herself or her body. The years of being bullied still haunt her, and her response to any and all stress or setbacks is to act out in ways that are vicious, cruel or just plain crazy.