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Netflix’s Insatiable Trailer Is NOT as Empowering as It Thinks It Is

Can the "Fat girl gets skinny, gets revenge" trope die already?

The trailer for Netflix’s new dark comedy series Insatiable has dropped, and I’m … less than enthused about it. Lauren Gussis (Dexter, Once Upon A Time) wrote the pilot, which centers on overweight teen Patty. Patty suffers daily torture at school, where she is made fun of by the other students. After a punch to the face forces her to have her jaw wired shut, Patty returns after summer break with a skinny new body and a taste for revenge.

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Oy vey. There’s a lot to unpack here. First off, there’s former Disney Channel starlet Debby Ryan in a fat suit as “before” Patty. Can we issue a moratorium on skinny actresses in fat suits? Especially when they’re usually played for laughs or as the butt of a joke? Would it be so shocking to cast, I don’t know, AN ACTUAL FAT PERSON to play a fat person? It’s 2018. There are plenty of talented plus-size actors out there. Sidebar: if Scarlett Johansson’s next role is as a fat person, I will lose my goddamn mind.

But Patty isn’t fat for long: she immediately transforms into skinny bombshell Debby Ryan, where she goes on a revenge spree that includes A) becoming a beauty queen and B) punching people in the face. Because that’s what fat girls want: weight loss and face-punching. This exhausting “revenge body” narrative is so pervasive that there’s even an E! entertainment series called Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian. Both Revenge Body and Insatiable are produced by Ryan Seacrest (a man currently living his own weight loss revenge story).

What makes this trope so frustrating is that it assumes every fat person wants to be skinny and also presents thinness as the solution to “fatness.” Why though? Every fat person on earth doesn’t want to be skinny, and assuming so is harmful and offensive. Pop culture makes fat folks believe that they are only worthy of a storyline if their story centers on losing weight. In the rare instances that they do cast a fat lead, chances are that by the time act three rolls around, that person has gone on a weight loss journey. Most likely in a weight loss montage. You know the one: girl gets on scale, frowns. Girl eye-fucks a donut and sadly munches on a stalk of celery. Girl gets sweaty at the gym. Girl gets on scale, smiles. Girl walks in slo-mo down a hallway in a skintight dress. Girl is now movie star. You go, girl!

I would love to see a different fat girl montage: Girl picks up scale, throws it in the trash. Girl dances at bar with friends. Girl is sexy and desirable because newsflash: Fat people fuck. Girl eye-fucks donut then eye-fucks hot dude. Hot dude and girl feed each other donuts while enjoying Italian sunset. The end.

Now, I’ll reserve full judgment for Insatiable (that title though: because she CAN’T STOP EATING, GET IT?!) until it actually comes out. Here’s hoping the bad vibes from the trailer don’t extend to the series itself.

(image: screengrab)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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