The trailer for Netflix’s upcoming teen comedy series Insatiable dropped and it was somehow even worse than its premise suggested.
Netflix describes the series as ‘a dark, twisted revenge comedy’ about Patty, who ‘has been bullied, ignored, and underestimated by those around her because of her weight. But now that she finds herself suddenly thin, Patty is out for payback against anyone who has ever made her feel bad about herself.’ The trailer takes great delight in showing actress Debby Ryan in a fatsuit and prosthetics before having her character be punched in the face — funny! — and emerge at the end of Summer as a newly skinny babe. See, now she’s hot, whereas before, she was just too hideous for us to let our eyes fall upon her. Of course, her payback seems to mostly be Heathers style violence, because the reboot of that went so well. Take note of the scene where Patty goes after the supposed head bully, who is an Asian woman. Smart move, show.
I am so fucking done with this fatphobic bullshit. Being fat is not something shameful, nor does it negate your beauty. Your worth as a human being is not dependent on your weight. Insatiable is trying so hard to go for an edgy tone but all that trailer does is buy into every shitty trope fat girls have had leveled at them for decades. Oh, she loses weight because her jaw was wired shut? Obviously, that’s the only way they could get her to stop eating, right?! Look at how the camera lingers over her now that she’s ‘hot’, and wearing lots of bikinis and generally dressing like a ‘hot girl’. That’s empowering!
It’s bad enough that the handful of stories we get centered on overweight people in pop culture either reduce them to the butt of the joke or these weird ‘before’ figures who have to lose the weight then get revenge because now they’re hot. Hell, Khloe Kardashian got an entire reality T.V. show dedicated to the concept of the ‘revenge body’.
Why is this the default story for fat characters? Other than the reality that our society hates overweight people and has deemed it morally acceptable to publicly rally against them? This isn’t just insulting: It’s bad fucking storytelling. I want stories of the fat girls who love themselves and their loves: The ones who don’t spend hours trying to make themselves smaller or be boxed in by montages of guilt-eating and frowning over a set of bathroom scales. Where are the stories of the fat teen girls who navigate the cruelty of high school with unflappable self-confidence and joy? What about the reality that yes, fat women fall in love and are desired by others and get to go out looking fucking amazing? Or is that not ‘inspiring’ enough for you, Netflix? By the way, a woman wrote this show.
If you want a positive story about a fat teen girl who gets on with her life, read Dumplin’, which will soon be turned into a film with Danielle Macdonald. Look, an actual woman who is the size the character is described as and not a skinny girl in a fat suit! See, it can be done!
(Header photograph via Netflix, courtesy of Annette Brown)