Netflix is no stranger to releasing controversial shows, but Insatiable might just take the cake. Set in Georgia, the 12 episode Netflix original weaves a tale of false rape accusations, statutory rape, murder, and beauty pageants. A senior in high school, Patty (Debbie Ryan) meets Bob Armstrong (Dallas Roberts) when he is representing her in a case wherein she punched a homeless man for trying to steal her candy bar. The homeless man subsequently punched her, and Patty was forced to get her jaw wired shut, resulting in her losing around 70 pounds and becoming what Bob describes as “beautiful.” After winning her case based on her newfound beauty, Patty finds herself in a world of pageants, with Bob, a falsely-accused child molester, as her coach. From the very start, the show is filled with cheap tactics to entice the audience and fails to provide a quality viewing experience.
Written by Lauren Gussis, Insatiable sparked a mass uproar even before its release. A petition created by Florence Given on Change.org, based on the body-shaming the series covers, garnered over 118,000 signatures. Despite the controversy revolving around, the satire aired on Netflix on August 10th. While Insatiable attempts to pull off a satirical dark comedy meant to captivate the audience, the only thing the film manages to do is draw the viewer’s attention as if watching a train wreck in horror.
Satire is often told through a different viewpoint, leading the audience to realize the ridiculousness of the problem or situation. But be-cause the show is dually narrated, it fails to acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. The constant back and forth transition of perspectives between main characters Patty and Bob both confuse and irritate viewers. Insatiable was meant to highlight the toxicity of body shaming through the viewpoint of someone who hates their own body, but the mishmash of events that occur later in the series distract viewers from that point.
Insatiable introduces the phrase “Skinny is magic,” but fails to show the ridiculousness of it. When Patty first enters her school having shed 70 pounds, people view her differently and are much more friendly to her, prompting her belief in the motto.This leaves impressionable teenage viewers with the belief that if they lose weight due to some miraculous outside agent (in Patty’s case, having her jaw wired shut after being punched by a homeless man), that they too will be beautiful and popular. The show attempts to redeem itself in the final episode when, while facing death, Patty says, “I wasn’t a loser when I was fat. And I wasn’t a loser now,” but it isn’t enough to cancel out the negative connotations they implied throughout the first 11 episodes.
Not only does the show not successfully pull off the satirical aspect but it also is so convoluted that it doesn’t even come across as viewable. The characters are dry and not at all likable, barely holding a candle to famous dark comedy stars such as Veronica in Heathers. In Heathers, the premise of students committing murder and attempting to blow up the school was so foreign at the time that it gained fame as a successful black comedy. Unlike the characters of J.D. or Veronica, who you know you should hate but are bound to like, Patty fails to draw the interest of the viewer. Many of the char-acters lack depth, and for some reason, half of the cast have very southern accents, even though the other half don’t. The plotline is almost like a fever dream, jumping from one new issue without resolving the first. For example, matters switch from Patty being suddenly pregnant to Patty summoning a demon she believes was her twin sister that she had eaten in the womb. It might sound insane, but Insatiable is so crazy that it has a plotline the audience would never even dream of.
I don’t want to knock down shows before watching them, but Insatiable is one of those shows which viewers looking for a new Netflix series to binge-watch might want to avoid. Twelve hours of confused emotional Southerners mixed with crass sexual jokes and false accusations aren’t worth your time.
Nicole Iwamasa / Features Editor
Image Courtesy of Netflix™️