Will This Show Leave You Insatiable?

Ashtyn Britt
abritt@lc.edu

 

If you haven’t heard of this show, you’ve been living under a rock! Insatiable is a Netflix series about a plus-sized woman named “Fatty Patty”, who is played by Debbie Ryan in a fat suit, who after an incident of spending three months with her mouth wired shut loses seventy pounds and decides to enter into beauty pageants and gain revenge on everyone who had ever been cruel to her.

There has been quite a controversy lately over the Netflix series Insatiable, stating it to be fat shaming and a horrible influence for women. After watching the entire series, I will be the first to tell you this is false. They touch multiple times on the fact that in Patty’s case, whether she was thin or not, had no effect on whether or not she was truly beautiful. It is spoken of many times that true beauty is what lies within, and have shown plenty of women of all sizes and colors being beautiful inside as well as out on this show. Patty just isn’t one of them.

Instead of having Patty be a beautifully thin saint who was always beautiful because she was always selfless and kind, this show turns the whole concept on its head by showing Patty treats everyone around her like expendable pawns to becoming a beauty queen. So, she will grasp for superficial goals, and hurt anyone she has to in the process.

This protagonist is no hero… she is our villain. Most of all, I think that’s exactly the point. Her being a plus sized woman, or being a super skinny woman, doesn’t change the fact she is still a bad woman inside and out.

It’s like watching Snow White from the perspective of the Evil Queen, complete with her own version of a magic mirror to tell her she’s the fairest in the land. Except, for our villainous Patty, she gets pageant coach Bob who sees her as his chance to regain respect in his community after being shamed by false accusations. Through most of Patty’s psychotic episodes, he’s there to pick up the pieces and reassure her she is still a good and beautiful person.

I still can’t figure out if this is genius or a hot mess! There are some really serious moments that are done well, such as coming to terms with one’s sexuality, or taking a realistic look at different types of eating disorders, what can be at the root of one’s problems, showing very realistic depictions of body dysmorphia, talking about teenage substance abuse, even discussion of mental health and the various ways it can severely affect someone’s perception of reality. However, it’s also mixed together with the politics of beauty pageants, crude humor, making light of the #MeToo movement, the occasional dash of bigotry in one form or another, confusing narratives, a couple characters whose existence is completely irrelevant to the plot, and committing serious crimes.

              If you want to know whether or not you should watch this show, for the first time I don’t have a good answer to that question because I myself can’t figure out how I feel about this series. You can try to watch the first episode if you’re curious and decide from there whether or not you want to dig deeper into the rabbit hole. I warn you, it is a steeper rabbit hole than you could ever imagine.

Patty treats her best friend horribly, apparently this being her behavior even before she lost weight. She also constantly ruins her pageant coach’s life from breaking up his marriage to breaking his son’s heart, and even having him cover for her when she commits a murder.

That’s right, our season finale shows her escaping from a kidnapping where she would’ve been murdered by Stella, an ex-mentor, and ex-lover of Bob’s. Patty accomplishes this escape by murdering Stella, and then also murders her stalking ex-boyfriend Christian with a tire iron.

What makes this chilling is the fact we never see how Stella dies, but we do see Patty beat Christian to death with a tire iron when he tells her she needs to embrace the fact she’s simply an evil person. She murders him, exclaiming over and over “I’m a good person!” Showing clear to the audience once and for all the true villain of the story.

The show makes Patty seem like she’s a protagonist or hero because, in Patty’s sick mind, that is what she thinks she is. The reality, however, is that she is, in fact, the bad guy. While mental health is touched on, it is only done so lightly. We can see through her terrible actions that it’s actually setting a pattern of behavior, as well as her voiced-over thoughts to try to justify to herself why she acts as she does. She is a sick, sick girl who needs serious help, not a pageant crown. Is that enough to redeem the show?

In my opinion, I have seriously mixed feelings. It’s clear that Patty is the villain in our story despite being also the protagonist, so it makes it much harder to be able to connect with her- but the idea behind her and the overall arc is very interesting. The constant and various weaving plots make things never boring, but it’s also nearly impossible to follow all the different subjects their tackling for any particular one to not feel only half-done. There are plenty of problematic tropes, as well as debunking others. It’s almost equal parts great and horrible, which makes it difficult to say any final words on it.

I’m going to need the second season just to make up my mind! Thus far, I give this show a very solid C minus. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a show on Netflix that will leave you both unsatisfied and intrigued at the same time? Look no further. If you’d like a more consistent show on Netflix that is funny while having some slight themes of horror and is good, watch Santa Clarita Diet instead.

 

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