Why we really hope that Netflix will cancel this teen show for being so fat phobic

Debby Ryan, the actress who plays the lead role in Insatiable.
Debby Ryan, the actress who plays the lead role in Insatiable.

Netflix has been coming out with some pretty great shows over the last few years. 

From the hit series Stranger Things, to Orange is the New Black, Alex Strangelove and Dear White People, the range of shows have often been entertaining, provocative and diverse. 

So when the trailer for Insatiable, a new teen comedy about a fat girl who is bullied relentlessly but gets her own back after she loses weight, hit the internet, the backlash was swift and fierce. 

In fact, many people are so unhappy with the premise that they’ve created a petition which has gained more than 150 000 signatures calling for the show to be cancelled before it even premieres Vox.com reports.

Now it’s not the first time a show has come under fire before it even debuts, and it certainly won’t be the last, but watching the trailer, it’s not hard to see why it’s so problematic.

READ MORE: Audiences will still watch problematic men in movies - study finds

The problematic elements include the following:

  • It uses the singular fat girl makeover narrative and implies that the only way fat girls can be the heroine of their own story is by losing weight.
  • There’s no nuance and no other stories that are given to fat girls because Hollywood seems to say that the only story fat girls have to tell is focused around their weight. And it implies that fat girls (and guys) can’t be comfortable or confident in their own skin.
  • The story also hinges on the protagonist, named Patty, getting her revenge on her bullies by using her newfound skinniness (following her jaw being wired shut after being punched in the face – and barely being able to eat – to get revenge on the bullies that have targeted her because of her weight.
  • Another issue is that the Debby Ryan, the actress who plays the role of Patty wears a fat suit. As Vox.com notes, this implies that the character was never meant to be fat to begin with and that within the premise of a character actually having to be fat, bigger actors are never cast.

The inherent shaming in that shows that Hollywood still discriminates against fat actors – particularly women. 

READ MORE: Entertaining shows that don't rely on the struggle hook to tell a good story

Now of course, this is simply the trailer and the actress and producer of the show have both defended it by saying that people should give the show a chance because it’s a lot more nuanced than the trailer suggests, and that the idea for the story is actually a way of using humour and satire to confront the reality that it’s really damaging to judge people from the outside. 

Of course it’s easy to accuse people of judging a show based simply on the trailer, but the problem is that this trailer is banking on the controversy by playing into tropes that should have really died out by now. 

Humour at the expense of fat people has never been funny.

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