Netflix’s Insatiable stars Debby Ryan as Patty, a bullied seventeen year-old high school student who loses 70 pounds and becomes a pageant contestant dead-set on revenge. In the first episode Debby Ryan is dressed in a fat suit to which students jeer “Fatty Patty”. The show has been heavily criticised for fat-shaming. However, having managed to finish the first season (albeit with sufficient eye-rolls and scoffs), one will find that fat-shaming is perhaps one of the least problematic aspects of Insatiable.
Internal monologues, when used correctly, have the potential to give viewers further insight into a character’s nature. However, when it comes to Insatiable, they are entirely necessary in order to comprehend the basic plot of the show, appearing far too often and only to serve as compensation for poor acting. Said poorly-written monologues are integral to the minimal character development that the protagonists undergo, and are far too similar in style and tone to be taken seriously. The program’s tendency to tell rather than show feels condescending and seems to cheapen its humour.
Insatiable also incorporates the overdone and problematic trope of the secondary lesbian character being in love with her heterosexual best friend. Nonnie is constantly at Patty’s beck and call, and serves as nothing more than a tool for Patty’s character development. While the characters do address Patty’s selfishness in this aspect, Nonnie’s character is not fleshed out at all and she is only defined by her sexuality, playing the background LGBT+ character that has become customary to so many television shows of recent times. In the background the show parades drag queens, people of colour and transgender characters to poorly disguise itself as inclusive. Ultimately, Nonnie’s under-developed character does nothing more than enforce a trope that makes viewers yawn.
The show also fails to follow through on its intent to explore the intricacy of mental health issues. Its attempts at dark comedy fall flat as it tries and fails to find humour in poor mental health, body dysmorphia and suicide, while missing the mark of seriously and sensitively portraying these issues. And while the show itself doesn’t seem to fat-shame, it does a poor job of portraying weight loss and body dysmorphia. Post-fat suit, Patty barely seems to struggle with her eating habits, and the viewers are only reminded that she was once “Fatty Patty” with cheap gimmicks.
Simply put, Insatiable is a poorly written television show with statis comedy and tepid acting. However, the very fact that it is so ridiculously disastrous, you just might find yourself binging all twelve episodes on Netflix this weekend.
Image: Netflix via Wikimedia Commons