Reviews Slam Insatiable as Fat-Phobic & Reductive: I Am Shocked, Shocked! Well, Not That Shocked

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Wow, the show that so many fat women and body positivity activists said looked like a dumpster fire from the trailer actually turned out to be a real turd? I am so shocked that a show with a fat-suit could be so reductive.

The show’s creator, Lauren Gussis had attempted to explain why the initial criticisms were wrong and that the people who were protesting were protesting the trailer which is “a different piece of art than the show.” She asked them to give the show a chance and see everything within context. Well, people have and are reporting that the show does not live up the satirical promises that Gussis claimed were in the text.

Before getting into the feedback from reviewers lemme just say this: Gussis and others may have had the best of intentions in writing this series. They may have had their own body issues that came into play when creating this series. That is valid. However, just because you call something satire doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some responsibility about how it presents its message to the public.

Carrie Wittmer from Business Insider said this about the series:

It thinks it is making a point about society and beauty by having its characters aggressively make the opposite point. But it doesn’t work.

To get this confusing message across, “Insatiable” uses dated clichés. It pits all its female characters against each other, makes jokes about statutory rape and molestation, and has a cast full of thin women. Characters, both male and female, constantly call women things like “crazy,” “insane,” and “b—-,” and its main character at one point calls another woman “a resting anus face of a wife.”

But none of this leads to anything, or makes any poignant point.

Fun. When it comes to main character Patty’s relationship with her weight Wittmer says, “Patty’s history with her weight is pretty much erased. It seems to be used solely as a reminder that this show is inclusive because its main character used to be fat. […] This is not a show about someone who gets back at bullies; it is about a hot teenager who lusts after an adult man, and about a bunch of people who are horrible to each other.”

So it’s not even the Carrie 2: The Rage teen drama that it could have been. Although apparently there is quite a bit of murder?

Jenna Guillaume from Buzzfeed opens up her piece with a scene from the final episode that basically shows that even if you finish the whole show in the hopes that it will improve it does not. I won’t spoil the scene, in case, for some reason, someone wants to watch it, but I will put in Guillaume’s conclusion about the series:

“[…] I just felt sad. Sad that I’d sat through 12 episodes of the new Netflix drama, waiting for some moment of triumph that would supposedly redeem all the problematic and fatphobic messages that had come before. Sad that what I was being given instead was a weak throwaway line and a lazy visual metaphor that undid none of that damage, and rather reinforced the same tired old jokes about fat people’s toxic relationship to food. Sad that it’s 2018 and fat people are still treated as less than human, as something monstrous, as the villains in our own stories.”

Which is exactly what people have been fearful of from the beginning. Gussis may have wanted to start a conversation and that conversation has put her show as an example of things that we need to move away from.

Joe Berkowitz from Fast Company admitted that he sided with Gussis’ ‘don’t knock it till you watched it’ philosophy and felt empathic due to hearing about Gussis’ own weight struggle. However, “after bingeing four episodes that made me wish I could purge them from memory, it seems like the show’s conception of “revenge” is restricted mostly to “becoming a beauty queen.” Even if Patty wanted something other than to prove the extent of her hotness in a competitive setting, the show offers an irresponsible, dangerous depiction of her too-easy physical transformation, the seamless results of it, and their miraculous sustainability.”

According to Berkowitz the show mocks Patty for her weight constantly and everyone is hyper aggressive to fat people and “sometimes the school marching band follows Patty around with a tuba.”

But again: satire.

Berkowitz also brings up another really fucked-up aspect of the show with one of the show’s secondary characters Bob, who is Patty’s Lawyer and also has a side hustle of being a beauty pageant instructor. Bob is also “recently disgraced because the mother of one of his beauty pageant protégées has falsely accused him of touching her daughter’s ‘hoohoo,’ which is something she decided to do just on a whim.” Oh and the character’s wife is played by Alyssa Milano, who has been at the forefront of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.


Finally, Variety‘s Caroline Framke broke down that at its core the series is just a dated, shallow, and just not that good.

“Insatiable” tries extremely hard to throw edgy jokes at the wall, hoping that they will turn the show into a sharp satire of how our society shuns the weak — or something. But despite some late-breaking attempts to right the ship, neither the show’s punchlines nor its characters are sharp enough to transcend their clichéd foundations.

Sometimes things can look bad and surprise you like Blockers, but there are also times where things are exactly what they seem. Insatiable is one of those times.

(image: Netflix/Edited by Author)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.