Why everyone is talking about Netflix's Insatiable

PROBLEMATIC: Riley-Rose Harper says while the new Netflix series Insatiable is fictional, the thought processes are real.
PROBLEMATIC: Riley-Rose Harper says while the new Netflix series Insatiable is fictional, the thought processes are real.

Netflix is about to release a new TV show called Insatiable.

Before you get excited over a new binge-worthy show, you should know more than 200,000 people have signed an online petition calling for it to be cancelled. That’s a lot of disgruntled internet users, am I right?

The show is a satire, a teenage comedy reminiscent of shows such as Degrassi High or even movies like Mean Girls.

So why are 200,000 people hating on it, describing the show as “fat-shaming”, and even going as far as to say it could induce eating disorders?

Let me explain. The plot revolves around the main character, Patty – or “Fatty Patty” – who’s played by former Disney star Debbie Ryan wearing an unconvincing fat suit.

Fatty Patty gets taunted by your stereotypical bullies and generally portrayed as your stereotypical loser.

So, after she spends a summer with her jaw wired shut due to an injury, she drops a heap of weight, returns to high school with a bangin’ bod and evidently also discovers make-up and hoop earrings. As you do.

Her new found “hotness” prompts her to seek revenge on the people that bullied her and avenge her former “fat” self.

I was never seriously bullied in high school but I definitely know what it’s like to want to change the way you look.

I remember viewing the six-week summer holidays as a prime opportunity to go on a diet and come back to school in January looking completely different.

And yep, this fantasy also involved me walking slow-mo down the corridor of my high school with everyone looking on amazed at me.

Now that I’m a bit older I know that’s ridiculous.

But sometimes, that’s the way the minds of 14-year-old kids work, and the desire to be “liked” or “popular” makes us a bit cray-cray (kids still say cray-cray, yeah?)

Sure, I get this new Netflix show is designed to make us laugh.

But the truth is, Fatty Patty being bullied and made fun of because of her size is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in most schools.

The theme of the show echoes problematic thinking that even adults struggle with – that everything miraculously changes when you get thin. Your life will be better and you’ll inherit a sassy little attitude to go with it.

The show is fictional … these thought processes are real.  

The theme of the show echoes problematic thinking that even adults struggle with – that everything miraculously changes when you get thin. Your life will be better and you’ll inherit a sassy little attitude to go with it.

Who cares about ratings or streams. This series could be damaging, and that’s the premise of the online petition to cancel it.

The fact is, it’s teenagers who are going to watch this show on Netflix and further confirm in their impressionable minds that if you don’t want to be a loser, you can’t look like Fatty Patty.

The online petition itself states: “For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human … that we must be thin.”

This petition is attracting fiercely passionate support, with mothers of those with eating disorders and even dieticians all pleading for the show to be cancelled.

Netflix’s vice president of original programming, Cindy Holland, defended the series saying: “Ultimately, the message of the show is that what is most important is that you feel comfortable in your own self. Fat-shaming itself, that criticism, is embedded in the DNA of the show.”

I totally agree – we should be encouraging people to feel comfortable in their own self.

However, is this plotline really highlighting that?

I signed the petition because this plotline was also around when I was growing up and it gave me a warped sense of popularity.

I signed it because Hollywood needs to stop using ridiculous and unconvincing fat suits. And I signed it because of the kids who might watch Insatiable and question their own sense of self, body shape or popularity.

And if one more signature can potentially move to avoid that, I’ll put my name down.

Insatiable premieres on Netflix this Friday.

Riley-Rose Harper is a presenter on the Hit Radio Network.