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13 Ways "Insatiable" Is Really Fucking Problematic


Insatiable lands on Netflix today. Whilst the show has provoked a lot of controversy for its revenge body storyline, it also poses problems in its dealing with LGBTQ issues, sexual assault and bullying.

Insatiable tells the story of Patty (Debby Ryan), a plus-size student who dramatically loses weight from having her mouth wired shut after being punched in the face. It has been self-described as a satire, but it is unclear what it is attempting to satirise.Ryan has defended the show, stating: "Patty had the same brain, the same sense of humor and style, soul and heart... but felt like she didn't matter to anyone until she was thin. She didn't have the same opportunities, and she was treated worse, which is what triggers her rage."From watching every episode, the fat-shaming is not the show's only problem.

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Insatiable tells the story of Patty (Debby Ryan), a plus-size student who dramatically loses weight from having her mouth wired shut after being punched in the face. It has been self-described as a satire, but it is unclear what it is attempting to satirise.

Ryan has defended the show, stating: “Patty had the same brain, the same sense of humor and style, soul and heart… but felt like she didn’t matter to anyone until she was thin. She didn’t have the same opportunities, and she was treated worse, which is what triggers her rage.”

From watching every episode, the fat-shaming is not the show’s only problem.

Here’s 13 things that stood out as being problematic.

1. Being fat is equated with being “out of control” and “sick.”

In another scene, when Patty gets upset and takes part in an eating competition, Bob (Dallas Roberts), a lawyer who is training her up to compete in beauty pageants, says to her: "We both know where this leads. It starts with some crawfish but then you feel guilty, so you eat a box of doughnuts to make yourself feel better... emotional eating is a slippery slope for both of us."As Arielle Bernstein rightfully points out in The Guardian, it is more accurate to describe Patty as having a 'binge-eating' disorder, where Patty would eat and eat and eat. Here both obesity and 'binge-eating' are judged as the same.A common line in the show's narration is "skinny is magic", but it is only challenged properly once. A plus-size character called Dee (Ashley D. Kelly) is also introduced in episode six and she briefly mentions that "beauty comes in all shapes and sizes," but this theme is not explored further.

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In another scene, when Patty gets upset and takes part in an eating competition, Bob (Dallas Roberts), a lawyer who is training her up to compete in beauty pageants, says to her: “We both know where this leads. It starts with some crawfish but then you feel guilty, so you eat a box of doughnuts to make yourself feel better… emotional eating is a slippery slope for both of us.”

As Arielle Bernstein rightfully points out in The Guardian, it is more accurate to describe Patty as having a ‘binge-eating’ disorder, where Patty would eat and eat and eat. Here both obesity and ‘binge-eating’ are judged as the same.

A common line in the show’s narration is “skinny is magic”, but it is only challenged properly once. A plus-size character called Dee (Ashley D. Kelly) is also introduced in episode six and she briefly mentions that “beauty comes in all shapes and sizes,” but this theme is not explored further.

2. There’s a running gag about sexual assault and molestation.

In one scene in the opening episode, Bob (Dallas Roberts) is falsely accused of sexual assault by Regina Sinclair (Arden Myrin) as her child failed to win a competition. In another episode Bob says: "The accusations were false. I'm a champion of women, especially young women. I want to touch as many of them.... as I possibly can."

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In one scene in the opening episode, Bob (Dallas Roberts) is falsely accused of sexual assault by Regina Sinclair (Arden Myrin) as her child failed to win a competition. In another episode Bob says: “The accusations were false. I’m a champion of women, especially young women. I want to touch as many of them…. as I possibly can.”

3. Patty is fat in the flashbacks, so in these scenes Debby Ryan is wearing a fatsuit.

Jenna Guillaume from Angle News wrote why this is problematic on Wednesday: "The fat suits themselves are employed as a visual joke – because the idea that the thin actors inhabiting them could look so fat is just so ridiculous. Fat suits dehumanise fat people, reducing them to nothing more than bodies to be reviled and mocked."

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Jenna Guillaume from Angle News wrote why this is problematic on Wednesday: “The fat suits themselves are employed as a visual joke – because the idea that the thin actors inhabiting them could look so fat is just so ridiculous. Fat suits dehumanise fat people, reducing them to nothing more than bodies to be reviled and mocked.”

4. There’s also an episode where Patty is encouraged to go on a drastic weight loss and fitness programme because she gained a bit of weight after emotionally eating.

She mentions that this new regime makes her feel "stronger" but that she was feeling "lightheaded from not eating in days" and "delirious" from the laxatives.

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She mentions that this new regime makes her feel “stronger” but that she was feeling “lightheaded from not eating in days” and “delirious” from the laxatives.

5. Weirdly, in amongst all of this meaningful talk about body positivity, there’s still jokes about fat people.

Patty was punched in the face by a homeless man after she punched him in the face, after he took her chocolate bar. Even Patty herself at one point looks at a picture of Bob in a photo book, and jokes: "Wow, you were fat."

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Patty was punched in the face by a homeless man after she punched him in the face, after he took her chocolate bar. Even Patty herself at one point looks at a picture of Bob in a photo book, and jokes: “Wow, you were fat.”

6. There is a lighthearted storyline where Brick (Michael Provost) has sex with another character’s Mom.

It’s only mentioned briefly once that what occurred was statutory rape.

Netflix

It’s only mentioned briefly once that what occurred was statutory rape.

7. Dixie (Irene Choi) hacks Patty’s phone and sends a nude of herself to the entire student body to make Patty look guilty of cyberbullying, but everyone then thinks Patty and Dixie are in a lesbian relationship, which Dixie considers “way worse.”

This is an attempt at a joke. The real and damaging consequences of cyberbullying are not examined.

Netflix

This is an attempt at a joke. The real and damaging consequences of cyberbullying are not examined.

8. A point by a transgender girl about feeling uncomfortable in her skin is compared to Patty feeling uncomfortable after gaining some weight.

Both Patty and the transgender person [whose name is not mentioned] talk about how uncomfortable they feel in their own skin. After giving each other a pep talk, they both show off their bodies off in public. There is no discussion on the difficulties of transitioning or of gender identity.

Netflix

Both Patty and the transgender person [whose name is not mentioned] talk about how uncomfortable they feel in their own skin. After giving each other a pep talk, they both show off their bodies off in public. There is no discussion on the difficulties of transitioning or of gender identity.

9. There’s a storyline about her best friend Nonnie (Kimmy Shields) fancying Patty, but her sexuality constantly becomes a punchline.

A lot of the jokes are fairly blatant, especially in the first half of the season, like when a lawsuit against Patty is dropped: "Case dismissed! We should make out! With guys, not with each other" and "did you guys kiss? Because maybe we should." There's a joke where Bob gets cornered by her ex, Stella Rose, who hasn't been able to move on. She tells him: "I gave up on men completely. I even tried women!"

Netflix

A lot of the jokes are fairly blatant, especially in the first half of the season, like when a lawsuit against Patty is dropped: “Case dismissed! We should make out! With guys, not with each other” and “did you guys kiss? Because maybe we should.”

There’s a joke where Bob gets cornered by her ex, Stella Rose, who hasn’t been able to move on. She tells him: “I gave up on men completely. I even tried women!”

10. Nonnie then only finds out that she is gay from obsessively fancying her best friend Patty.

Someone tells her: "I was obsessed with my best friend, totally jealous when she got her first boyfriend but I didn't think it made me gay. Then I saw her making out with a guy and I wanted to die."

Netflix

Someone tells her: “I was obsessed with my best friend, totally jealous when she got her first boyfriend but I didn’t think it made me gay. Then I saw her making out with a guy and I wanted to die.”

11. There is also a twist where Patty is told she has a teratoma, “a parasatic twin that she consumed in utero” leading her to conclude that she ate her own twin in the womb.

Netflix

12. Bob then says this joke to her.

Netflix

13. And finally, there’s a whole series of jokes about anal cancer.

Directly before this line by Bob, Regina Sinclair (Arden Myrin) makes fart noises as Bob (Dallas Roberts) gives a speech about how his grandmother died from the disease. After that there's a string of double entendres by Bob himself (above).

Netflix

Directly before this line by Bob, Regina Sinclair (Arden Myrin) makes fart noises as Bob (Dallas Roberts) gives a speech about how his grandmother died from the disease. After that there’s a string of double entendres by Bob himself (above).





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