Written by Perry Wyatt |
Netflix’s recent endeavour to make light of a sensitive subject came in the form of Insatiable, a teen-comedy-drama about “Fatty Patty” Bladell (Debby Ryans) and her hectic journey to pageant beauty queen. After its first trailer aired on the 19th July, it received immediate backlash, criticising it as “fat-shaming” and sparking a petition that protested its release.
The story follows Patty after an accident causes her to lose 70 pounds: she is hungryfor revenge on those who ridiculed her for her size and made her life a “living hell” by proving them all wrong and winning beauty pageants. Initially, the show promoted it’s “body positive” themes to gain the approval of the teenage demographic that they hoped to entice. However, the show is flawed in its execution of this endeavour and expresses little understanding for the issue it is trying to tackle. Bullying and fat-shaming take place in exchange for a cheap laugh from Debby Ryan in a fat suit. And, after watching this series, I cannot fathom how this show can ever come across as body positive when it makes such a vivid effort to make “Fatty” Patty’s life torture and continually feeds the audience the reoccurring line “Skinny is magic.” I’m afraid the joke is lost on me.
Albeit, Netflix has made a valiant effort to bring to light under discussed topics which they have previously triumphed with their adaptation of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. The show focuses on the suicide of teen Hannah Baker and the aftermath of her death. This put a spotlight on the important issue and the show brought the necessary topic of suicide and mental illness into conversation.
I believe this is what they aimed to achieve with Insatiable; by showing the hell that Patty was put through by her peers before she lost the weight, they were condoning bullying and fat-shaming. However, what follows makes comedy out of these issues, making light of a serious problem and selling the idea that happiness comes from being thin and beauty-queen beautiful.
What makes this dangerous is that it’s target audience is teens. Impressionable individuals currently in school, some of which may be struggling with the same problems that Patty struggles with. The show’s creator claims the message behind the show is to “be comfortable with yourself,” (Dixon, The Independent) which would be great if the show actually adhered to this. The tactless body-shaming, which proves trigger-worthy in some scenes for people who struggle with their own image, is made comedy out of as Patty turns into a rage monster who’s “hungry” for revenge. Hilarious.
Insatiableshould’ve turned to My Mad Fat Diary (E4)if they wanted an example of a show about sensitive topics done right. It shows the moving journey of teenager, Rae Earl, tackling her own mental illnesses and body issues as she navigates her life. With cackle-worthy moments woven into a raw story about self-acceptance and moving forward, I would recommend My Mad Fat Diaryto anyone – because of it’s true, positive message despite everything going on inside Rae’s head.
Body confidence is a widespread issue for many of us, the pressure to look a certain way is what makes us self-conscious and in some cases leads to body issues of our own. Insatiablemisses the mark here, it should’ve focused on changing the minds of Patty and those around her, not ridiculing her until she lost weight in order to be accepted. This hateful message could prove damaging to young minds watching, that are having the same internal battle with their feelings over their bodies – this is not the kind of message that needs promoting.
This idea of “skinny is magic,” should be tucked away somewhere no one can find it and in its place, everyone should be reminded that beauty is not one-size only.
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Quote from Dixon, L. (2018, August 7) Fellow fat people, let’s not kid ourselves – there’s nothing wrong with Insatiable. The Independent. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/voices