Ever since the trailer for Netflix's Insatiable dropped, there's been a LOT of controversy and talk surrounding the series, regarding it's 'fat-shaming' storyline, going so far as 100,000 plus signatures on a petition to get Netflix to pull the show before it's release. I'm sure you've seen everything about the show all over your social media timelines, especially over the past several days since the media embargo was lifted and the entire first series was dropped on August 10. Over the weekend, I sat down and watched all twelve episodes - roughly 50 minutes apiece - and thought I'd share my thoughts on the whole thing, and whether it's the show everyone is claiming it to be.
Firstly, when I watched the trailer when it first came out, before every online media outlet started ripping it to shreds, I thought the show looked like it was going to be a good watch. The trailer focused on our main character, Patty, who lost weight and was determined to get revenge on those who had treated her like dirt for her size. It came across as a crazy teen drama that was going to be totally over the top, probably a tad terrible, but still a guilty-pleasure watch that we'd all love to hate. I didn't have high hopes for the series, but I was still going to watch it when it dropped. Plus, it stars Alyssa Milano, who I absolutely love.
Then came all the articles calling out the series for fat-shaming and demanding Netflix reconsider releasing it. I never saw that in the trailer. I can totally see where people did pick up on those elements, but for me it wasn't there, and that is coming from someone who, in simple terms, is fat. I'm not offended and I'm technically part of the group of people that should be offended and find it problematic. The trailer, like all television and film promos, is clips spliced together randomly and out of context, so you don't really know what certain moments or dialogue truly mean until you see them within the show and their intended context. So despite all the hate and petitions, I wasn't going to not watch the show or let media articles form an opinion about something I'd never actually watched. How can you accurately form such a strong opinion on something when you've only seen a short snippet and don't know the full story?
During this time, a lot of the cast spoke out against the negativity that was being thrown their way, saying that the show wasn't fat-shaming, but highlighting actions that are still a very prevalent part of society - Debby Ryan, who plays our lead Patty, said "people blatantly do it [fat-shaming] all the time and almost don't get slapped on the wrist for it." Alyssa Milano, who plays conniving housewife Coralee, spoke about the satirical nature of the show as a way to spark conversation, saying "entertainment should be a conversation starter."
With all the good and the bad floating around since the trailer dropped, I've endeavored to keep an open mind about the show and the give it a chance - why should I be swayed by people making assumptions about the trailer that doesn't paint the full picture? Even when review articles came out after the media embargo lifted, I didn't read them, mainly so I wasn't spoiled. Sure, most of these review articles were leaning towards the negative, but some headlines read more that the show itself was bad, rather than it being problematic for fat-shaming. Bad or not, I still wanted to watch the show and make up my own opinion because the trailer made it look crazy and weird.
So, over 9 hours later (going so far as to pause my The Nanny binge), here we are - was Insatiable satisfying and is it really as problematic as all those headlines would have you believe? Be wary, there are some minor spoilers below.
The show is crazy and weird, but it's actually pretty good, and the more episodes you watch, the more you want to know how this is all going to end. Sure, it's not the greatest piece of television, but it's got a lot of high points, quiet literally, and a dark and twisty end. There's twists, turns and revelations at every turn, and it's not long before you're completely sucked in. As a black comedy that's satirically showing elements of society that still exist in 2018, it does a great job at highlighting problems that society still faces - fat-shaming and bullying and how, a lot of the time, it gets swept under the rug.
So is it the "fat-shaming piece of trash" that everyone said it was based off the trailer?
Absolutely not! Patty, who has her jaw wired shut after she was punched in the face, loses weight but still feels like 'Fatty Patty'. Even though she has the 'ideal' body, she still feels fat and like she doesn't belong. In episode five, she goes to buy a bikini for her Bikini Dog Wash, only to be left crying in the change room and feeling like she looks hideous despite Nonnie's assurance that she looks amazing, which she does. Later in the episode, when she goes to wear the bikini for the event, she's still not ready to actually show the world her body in a bikini, eventually taking the baby step of wearing it under a wrap. Patty didn't choose to lose weight and she's still so unsure of herself now that's skinnier.
In fact, Patty eventually calls everyone out for bullying her and not caring because she was fat and ugly, saying they only care when someone pretty and skinny is bullied. Which is still so true in society, despite it being 2018. Whether you believe it or not, fat-shaming and judging someone on their outward appearance alone is still a big issue in this world, and Insatiable really highlights that. Patty, at one point, is almost suspended for being the bully when she was defending herself, even though no one was ever suspended for bullying her when she was fat. Talk about society's double-standard.
Not to mention, one of the pageant contestants is, as well as being black and a lesbian, plus-size. Dee is confident with her body and wants to show the world that pageants aren't just for those who are skinny - "I like the way I look. That's why I do pageants. To show people that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes." She actually delivers Patty an important truth after witnessing an exchange between Patty and Magnolia - "Being skinny don't mean shit if you're ugly on the inside." This is a big issue that Patty deals with throughout the entire series.
It's ironic, isn't it? Fat-shaming is all about judging those for their outward appearance without getting to know them, and that's exactly what everyone did with the trailer - judging this show on it's outward appearance without actually seeing what it was about. Because, from where I'm sitting at the end of twelve episodes, it's far from what everyone made it out to be.
Another big part of the show is sexuality. Nonnie, who has been in love with Patty for years, is confused about the feelings she has for her best friend, eventually coming to terms with the fact that she's a lesbian. She comes out to Patty, her father, and most importantly herself, and feels happier and more confident in who she is as a person. It's not just Nonnie either. Bob Armstrong also deals with years of underlying feelings when he's confronted with a revelation from his arch-nemesis.
At it's core, this show explores growing up and trying to find your place in the world when you're not ever sure who you are yourself. And really, it's not just growing up, it also looks at adults who still don't feel confident with their life and finding a change they didn't know they needed. Yeah, it's a bit ridiculous in how things are portrayed (it's a satire after all), but it still delivers important messages in almost every episode.
Patty says near in the latter part of the season, "in every joke, there's truth," and Insatiable is exactly that - a show filled with jokes that hit home to the truth that we must face. The 'problematic' jokes that are there are to show just how problematic society is. And if it hits a nerve, it means it's doing it's job. It's a comedy, and if you go into this show thinking it's anything but, you aren't going to see the show for what it is. You will see the jokes and portrayal as problematic, even though they aren't.
With a big cliffhanger on which the series ended, it's only inevitable that it'll return for a second season, and I'm honestly excited. There's still so much to this story that needs to play out and I desperately need to know the fate all of these characters with so much still up in the air. Let's hope Netflix announces it soon.
So, you know how I feel about the show, let me know how you feel - what are your thoughts on season one of Insatiable, and is it the show you thought it would be?
See You Soon!
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