If you’re on Twitter, or in fact any form of social media, you may have seen numerous alarm bells ringing, and protests occurring over Netflix’s new show, ‘Insatiable’. (I will add straight away, this post is just my opinion formed from watching the show and reading various articles, positive and negative.)
“A bullied teenager turns to beauty pageants as a way to exact her revenge, with the help of a disgraced coach who soon realizes he’s in over his head. … Debby Ryan’s Patty Bladell is ready for her close-up — and her vengeance.”
As described on Netflix.com and with a rating aged 15 the show appears from the offset, and the trailer, to be just another cliche high school story of a fat girl turned thin who is much happier than before.
Therefore, after the initial trailers dropped there was a huge surge and call for the show to be cancelled, for ‘body-shaming’, and a petition was created.
“UPDATED with series creator Lauren Gussis’ statement: The list of signatories on a Change.org petition calling for the cancellation of Netflix’s upcoming series Insatiable continues to grow. As of Tuesday morning, the petition, which accuses the series of “body-shaming”, has gathered more than 120,000 signatures.” – Quote taken from deadline.com here.
What I wanted to see with modern-day media:
Naturally, not wanting to miss out, I watched the trailer. Although there were several red flags flying in my head I didn’t want to just jump on the bandwagon and start immediately hating the show before it was released. Instead, I opted for a different train of thought and hoped for something different. I longed for the show to be one with an important message. That people of all shapes and sizes CAN and DO suffer with body-image issues. Plus, I hoped that it wouldn’t just be ‘body-shaming’ larger girls and women.
A message of normality is something everyone needs to hear and one modern day media does little to support. Let’s reflect on the summer. As much as I find Love Island entertaining and an easy late-night viewing, the fact that the majority of the women and men appearing on the show were of a slimmer or more muscular frame says a lot. Love Island did nothing to promote a wider range of body images and only conformed to stereotypical ‘attractive’ body types. This was something which nearly made 2018 winner Jack Fincham pull out of the show due to insecurities.
I hoped that ‘Insatiable’ would do a good job to identify that everyone, of all shapes and sizes do have body image issues and that it isn’t just a ‘body and fat-shaming’ show which would affect millions.
About the show:
With 12 episodes each an hour long it only took me a few days to get through the series and I won’t lie, in parts I was hooked. The first episode sees ‘Patty’, in her larger form, comfort eat in the presence of her only friend ‘Nonnie’ and getting viciously bullied by her peers. After a nasty encounter with a homeless man in which her jaw gets broken, ‘Patty’ returns as a slimmer figure. This is in time for a court hearing, with disgraced defense attorney Bob Armstrong. He believes he can turn her into a pageant queen to help both his and her image.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to give you a blow by blow account of what occurs in each episode. Just in case you decide to watch it for yourself. What I will say though is that the show presents a confused message with multiple tangents addressed and discovered throughout.
Although there are elements within the show which do ring alarm bells and cringing in my seat. There are other elements which had me laughing till my sides hurt and feeling sorry for ‘Patty’s’ character too. They could have done away with the constant mentions of ‘Patty’s’ former weight and dramatic weight loss but then would that not have detracted from the message too?
Yes, she is thin now but throughout there is the message of ‘she used to be this’. Something which only hinders Patty’s own self confidence and mental depiction of herself. She may be thin but she isn’t happy. She remains stuck in the body of her former self which everyone is so happy to remind her of.
This reigns true of modern day society. Newspapers and magazines are so quick to emblazon their front pages with the image of a celebrity who’s gained a few pounds. The same papers will then host a celebration inside of another’s weight loss.
‘Patty’ is overweight and miserable at the start, she ends the series a pageant queen and with an idolized body image, yet remains miserable, having been driven to drastic actions as a result of her own negative perceptions.
Why write this?
After watching the show, I didn’t immediately think ‘I have to write a blog post on this’. I finished it several days ago now but what led me to write one was that I was still seeing people who were point blank refusing to watch the show because of the he-said-she-said issue. I hand on heart believe that although the trailer is rife with controversy. However, I believe the actual show means well with what they’re trying to portray.
My opinions may have changed throughout the show but overall, I didn’t feel it was a show which condoned ‘fat-shaming’. I also think the trailer was incredibly misleading.
It is very easy to jump on the same bandwagon as everyone else when it comes to body image issues. Can you really argue against it though if you aren’t going to actually watch the show and see for yourself?
Posting a poll on Twitter prior to this post led to interesting insights: (As seen at 21.30 20/08/18).
- 41% hadn’t watched it.
- 29% have watched it and thought it wasn’t as controversial as the trailer made out.
- 18% had absolutely no clue what I was talking about.
- 12% have watched it and thought it was as controversial as the trailer showed.
Speaking to one Twitter user, Lelly, she agreed with me on my opinions that the trailer shows a show full of controversy when actually that isn’t exactly true.
“I thought the trailer shows people who fat shame in a bad light. It made me feel sorry for Patty and angry towards the people who were bullying her. So I was surprised to hear that people thought the show itself was fat-shaming.
I have seen the whole show and I do think the trailer was misleading. Not in the same way that others seem to though as I never though the trailer was fat-shaming. The opposite. I did think the show was about Patty getting like for like revenge on her bullies. But it isn’t.
I also thought it was going to be a predictable fat girl gets skinny = life is better. It isn’t that either.”
Lauren Gussis, the series creator also took to Twitter to defend the show, sharing her own experiences in the process.
Photo taken from Twitter.com, linked here.
In my opinion, ‘Insatiable’ may not be winning any awards soon but what it is doing is creating conversation. The often hard to hear messages within the show are being spoken loud and clear. Granted, it won’t be for everybody.
The season ends on a cliffhanger and is actually a very addictive show. I consider it to be an honest and true depiction of what happens day to day. Something people close their ears to avoid. Regardless with what the media may be saying, the show has created a conversation. Without those initial reactions I probably wouldn’t have chosen to watch the show; I am glad I did though.
It may not be your show of choice and that is okay. But, I think what is important is that we don’t judge a book by it’s cover or a Netflix series by it’s trailer. ‘Patty’ at the end of the season is the media’s idea of perfection and yet she’s unhappy. Is that even allowed?
Celebrities who have the ‘perfect’ life aren’t allowed to have their own struggles, they aren’t allowed to be depressed because they ‘have it all’?
Insatiable, is at times a hard view, but I think it is one which should be embarked on by many – before a judgement is formed. It should be also noted that Debby Ryan who depicts ‘Patty’ is not without her own insecurities having struggled with her own body image for years.
Speaking to the Independent again, Ryan said:
“…I was drawn to this show’s willingness to go to real places about how difficult and scary it can be to move through the world in a body, whether you’re being praise or criticised for its size, and what it feels like to pray to be ignored because it’s easier than being seen.”
“Patty has the same brain, the same sense of humour and style, soul and heart, the same chucks, but felt like she didn’t matter to anyone until she was thin… she undergoes a physical transformation, but it doesn’t make her happy. We’re not in the business of fatshaming. We’re out to turn a sharp eye on broken, harmful systems that equate thinness with worth.”
– Debby Ryan, speaking to The Independent (Article written by Jack Shepherd).
(The full article can again be found here.)
Whether you choose to watch the show or not, I hope you take away one thing. Realise that although someone may seem ‘perfect’ on the outside, that may not reign true with how they’re really feeling. Be careful with your words and use them wisely. The damage you can do can last forever and be the thing to taunt an individual for years to come.
I hope that with writing this, I haven’t offended or upset anyone. It is an honest opinion of how I viewed the show and I do think people should watch it for themselves. That being said, you are welcome to message me if you have any issues with what I have said or the way I have portrayed the message. Again, it is simply my opinion and how I viewed the show.
Thank you for reading. Let me know your views, if you’ve watch the show or have seen any of the media hype.