Netflix's Insatiable accused of homophobia, fat-shaming by critics, days after receiving backlash for trailer

FP Staff

Aug,12 2018 11:31:01 IST

Netflix's new series Insatiable, hitting screens on 10 August, was touted by the streaming service as a dark comedy meant to spark debate on society's ills.

In the Netflix series Insatiable, Debby Ryan's character loses weight after her jaw is wired shut following an accident and it becomes difficult for her to eat. Twitter

In the Netflix series Insatiable, Debby Ryan's character loses weight after her jaw is wired shut following an accident and it becomes difficult for her to eat. Twitter

Instead, critics have slammed it as fat-shaming, homophobic and denigrating to transgender people.

The offbeat show follows the story of overweight teen Patty, who is mocked and bullied incessantly until she has an accident that requires her jaw be wired shut, which causes her to shed significant weight.

With her new svelte figure, she vows to seek revenge on all those who attacked her, notably by participating in beauty contests. The trailer prompted fierce backlash from critics accusing the show of body-shaming. The critics have also denounced the show for its treatment of the subject. "In a painful miscalculation, the 12-episode series, is packed with more muffin-top jokes, fat shaming and mean girl pranks than an eighth-grade slumber party," reads LA Times' review of the show.

"After watching all 12 episodes of Insatiable's debut season, I can safely and confidently report that the show is much weirder than advertised — and, in many instances, much worse," says another review by Variety.

"I totally agree that a show I was expecting — from the trailer — to be fatphobic turned out to be problematic in seemingly endless new ways. But I guess we should talk about how “Insatiable” treats Patty’s binge-eating disorder — or fails to treat it in any meaningful way," writes Eleanor Stanford for New York Times.

It perpetuates "not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women's bodies," read a petition launched last month.

With the show's release, the petition — which calls for the series' cancellation — had more than 2,29,400 signatures.

Some people also skewered the show for the way it portrayed homosexuality, including apparently making light of Patty's best friend Nonnie for her repressed desire. In another scene, a young girl who accidentally releases a nude photo of herself says she initially "figured everyone would think I'm a slut."

"Now they think I'm a lesbian and that's way worse," she says.

And in another scene, Patty and a transgender woman compare being fat to being transgender, saying they both aspire to change their bodies. "At the very least, it will be a conversation starter," said Alyssa Milano, who stars in the show.

"People bring with them their own emotional history and that's what makes art amazing and TV entertaining. I'm completely aware that it's not a show for everybody but we're really proud of what we did." Netflix's vice president of original series, Cindy Holland, said the series explores issues "satirically, in a very over-the-top way."

Lauren Gussis, who created the show, called it "a cautionary tale about how damaging it can be to believe the outsides are more important — to judge without going deeper."

"Please give the show a chance," she said.

(With inputs from Agence France-Presse)

Updated Date: Aug 12, 2018 11:36 AM