Review Roundup: Netflix's 'Insatiable' is a Fatphobic Trash-Fire
When the trailer for Netflix’s teen comedy Insatiable premiered, the reaction was almost universally negative. The show, about a fat teenager who loses weight then plots revenge on her bullies, looked like every trope of fatphobia you could possibly imagine, all wrapped up in a wannabe Ryan Murphy-slash-Mean Girls sheen. The show’s creators and stars tried to calm the anger, which led to a petition of protest signed by over 228k people, by claiming the trailer was misleading. This was a show of empowerment and satire, they promised!
Well, the critics have now responded to that claim with variations of the word ‘bullshit’.
Insatiable has received bad reviews across the board. Not just negative criticism: There’s real anger in these pieces, and justifiably so. In lieu of us reviewing the show - we ain’t giving this thing Netflix clicks - here’s a brief round-up of some of the most scathing and insightful reviews.
Buzzfeed Australia - Jenna Guillaume.
‘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.
There’s even a comedy roast in which Patty has to sit there and listen to everyone she cares about joke about how fat and gross she used to be. Rather than making those people look bad, the structure of the episode focuses on how terrible a person Patty is. Ultimately, that is what the show is all about.
Now, I crave stories that show fat people living their best lives, being happy, and most of all, being treated with respect and dignity.
Like the hole in Patty’s soul, it’s a gaping void that can’t be filled.
Not least because I keep being served hollow, harmful, and hateful shows like Insatiable.’
Vox - Constance Grady.
‘Insatiable, the controversial new show from Netflix that debuts on Friday, is simultaneously one of the cruelest and most poorly crafted shows I have ever seen.
It spends all of its time striving desperately to reach the status of third-tier Ryan Murphy and falling flat. It has Murphy’s gleeful sadism in spades, but none of his manic camp energy; it has his treacly didacticism, but none of his genuine emotion.’
Just to be clear: What it takes to change Patty’s life is violence. She trades getting punched in the face for the chance to have the body of a teenage starlet. It’s a fantasy that is familiar to many women — if only someone would hurt me so that I couldn’t eat, or if only I got some kind of horrible wasting disease or a tapeworm, I could fix my body and then my real life would start — and one that Insatiable embraces wholeheartedly.
This fantasy is gross. It is born out of violent self-loathing, out of the desire to hurt and maim and punish a body that our culture has decided is unacceptable.’
NPR - Linda Holmes.
‘If only the worst thing about Netflix’s Insatiable were its lazy portrayals of fat people or its tone-deaf deployment of sexual assault and abuse as comedy or its embrace of racist tropes or its portrayals of people with Southern accents as dumb hicks or its white-hot conviction that same-sex attraction is either inherently hilarious or a teaching moment.
Oh, if only.
Because the answer to why Patty punched a homeless man is: He tried to steal her candy bar. Protecting candy to the point of violence is sort of the “jump to light speed” of ridiculing your fat characters — it shorthands their shameful appetites, their lack of rationality and discipline, their single-minded prey drive, and their infantile attachment to foods mostly associated with children. This is nothing more or less than the fastest (and, let me add, the most clichéd) way to dehumanize a teenage girl along this particular axis. It is the padded Jenna Maroney growling “ME WANT FOOOOOD!” on 30 Rock, if that had been intended to develop a character you would later be expected to really care about.’
Vulture - Jen Chaney.
‘Well, I’ve seen all twelve — twelve, I tell you, twelve! — episodes of Insatiable, and it turns out the show is not as bad as you imagined. It’s actually worse. Like, worse in ways that you can’t even anticipate.
Watching this show is like observing someone commit a crime, sentence themselves to community service, then try to get credit for their commitment to good works as if they never did anything wrong in the first place. (Come to think of it, this describes several of the show’s characters and plot lines, too.)
Patty, who’s flattered to be seen as worthy of a pageant sash, takes a shine to the idea and, also, to Bob. See, this is the part where you’re supposed to laugh: An underaged girl is actually attracted to an older man who’s been branded a pedophile! “He’s a child molester,” Nonnie reminds Patty. “Which means I might have a shot,” Patty responds. Then she starts watching Drew Barrymore, her idol, in The Amy Fisher Story so she can get tips about how to behave around Bob. ARE YOU LAUGHING YET?’
Guardian - Arielle Bernstein.
‘Insatiable is clearly striving to be an edgy satire of our image-obsessed culture and our constant need for more, but the candy-colored veneer of the series never offers viewers an actual escape from the toxic tropes it attempts to skewer. In fact, the show often seems intent on embodying the very stereotypes that it claims to be dismantling. Patty is shown being teased mercilessly when she is fat, and then ogled constantly after she drops the weight. Her character has daddy issues, is a cutthroat and cruel pageant contestant, and has very few interests, ideas or thoughts outside of her looks (except for the fact that she really loves Drew Barrymore). The way that the camera focuses on Patty’s body in various scenes is often odd and distracting, and seems to emphasize that the viewer shouldn’t really be able to see Patty beyond her looks either.’
Header Image Source: Netflix
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