Popular Netflix Comedy-Drama Equates Your Worth to Your Size

Kaleigh Brein, Writer

This berserk Netflix original follows the story of “Fatty Patty”, portrayed by iconic actress Debby Ryan, after her jaw is wired shut and she “gets skinny”.

     “Fatty Patty” lives in a dysfunctional home with an absentee dad and a mom who when she’s home, is either drunk or passed out. With no stable guardian, Patty turns to food for solace. Everytime Patty is faced with hardship, she turns to her “only reliable friend” food. The story starts one day when Pattys at a convenience store, while there she stumbles into a confrontation with a homeless man. He asks for her candy bar and when she denies him, he mocks her saying “it’s not like you need it, fatty”. Patty, bewildered and angry over the homeless man’s taunts, punches him. He retaliates by  punching  back, breaking her jaw and causing her to go on a liquid diet. The homeless man presses charges, which allows the introduction of the lawyer and former pageant coach Bob Armstrong. Bob Armstrong, recovering from a false child molestation accusation, is in the process of finding a teenage  girl to “go all the way” in pageants. Bob, expecting a fat girl to show up, tells Patty to plead guilty and try to get away with the least jail time possible. When he sees a newly skinny Patty after she lost all her weight on a liquid diet, he forms a plan to keep her out of jail, and turn her into a glamorous pageant queen. The story only gets crazier from there. The protagonists face many obstacles throughout the twisting plot of the series, such as questioning sexuality, attempted murders, cover ups, addiction, and divorce. 

Skinny is Magic

     The very first scenes in Insatiable show skinny actor Debby Ryan dressed in a fat suit, which is something actors use that need to play a role of a character far heavier than them. Fat suits may seem okay and reasonable, but they aren’t. Fat suits are made to be laughed at, to joke about and as you can see in the picture above, the fatsuit Debby Ryan dons is incredibly ludacris. She doesn’t look entirely human, she waddles around and her body parts don’t operate like a regular person’s. Fat suits are offensive, hurtful, and dehumanizing, they certainly should not be used to portray a false image of obesity.

     Once Debby Ryan takes off the suit, she talks about how much she loves her new body claiming she’s now a “regulation hottie”. The first problem with this is giving out false hope. The show is trying to say that after three months of a liquid diet Patty would come out looking perfect, no. The reality is she would have extra, flabby, painful skin, stretch marks, and most likely gain the weight back quickly. Not only is the show telling teens that they can’t live their true lives until they’re skinny, it’s giving a false image that being skinny and perfect is as easy as getting punched in the jaw. After Patty is skinny, she starts getting different treatment from everyone, prompting the offensive  title of the second episode, “Skinny is Magic”. All in all, the show makes it seem like the skinnier and prettier you are, the more your worth and the more people will pay attention to you. That is not true and should not be something put out on Netflix for teenagers to see and obsess over.

     They talk about Patty being a role model for teenagers that are overweight. Bob Armstrong tells her to “show them what’s possible”. When he says that, he’s saying that the only reason Patty is a role model, is because she got skinny and pretty. Why can’t a girl who’s happy with her body- no matter what it looks like- be a role model? Why does it have to be the girl who was once fat but now hot by society’s standards? They’re telling obese people they need to fix themselves. They’re saying fat people are just fat and nothing else. When we look at Fatty Patty the producers intend for us only to see the fat suit, and when she shed it we were supposed to see the girl underneath it. That’s simply not the case, when you look at an obese person you’re not looking at fat you’re looking at a human with a personality and emotions, those traits aren’t “under their fat” they are the fat. So what if you’re overweight, it’s what makes you you and TV shows shouldn’t be teaching kids to seek out the person under the fat, it should be teaching them to be kind to the person who carries the fat. Everyone’s beautiful and just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re worth more. I think Netflix had an excellent opportunity to send out that message with this series, yet they failed.

Bisexuality is just a stop on the way to Gayville

     Throughout the show many characters struggle with finding their sexuality. The first example of this is Nonnie, Patty’s best friend. Nonnie  is shown searching up ways to figure out whether or not she’s a lesbian, once Nonnie comes to the conclusion that she is lesbian she thinks she’s in love with Patty. The troubled girl confesses her feeling towards Patty, and get’s rejected, Patty telling her she’s not gay but she still respects her and wants to continue being friends. There isn’t much wrong with that, but the other case displayed on the show has many problems.

     Bob Armstrong gets confronted in a bathroom by his neighbor and nemesis, Bob Barnard about being Gay. Bob (Barnard) tells him he’s gay as well and has had a crush on him since seventh grade. Bob (Armstrong) responds by freaking out and running out of the bathroom. When he finally faces Bob (Barnard) he tells him he’s bisexual. Bob (Barnard) dismisses his claim and tells him “Bisexuality is just a stop on the way to Gayville” perpetually freaking out Bob (Armstrong) even more. Causing him to rant about loving women’s bodies. There’s a couple things wrong with that. First of all being Bisexual is perfectly real and valid, and a term millions of Americans use to describe their sexuality. The show using it as a punchline is extremely disrespectful and tasteless comedy. Second of all, having a character dismiss someone who is struggling with something important and personal, is very wrong. That’s not an example Netflix should be sending to teens around the world.

     One thing I would like to applaud the show for, though is bringing in the character Dee. Dee is Nonnie’s girlfriend in the show, and she is overweight. Dee is shown numerous times comforting Nonnie about her sexuality and about how she’s completely normal and acceptable. Dee is also shown advocating for eating disorders, and helping Patty overcome her severe addiction to junk food. Dee enters in a pageant Patty was in, and despite being a little overweight and Lesbian she comes second place only to Patty. With the way the show is going you would think the writers would have her be laughed off the stage, but no. Despite all the bad messages, Dee manages to show being Lesbian is OKAY, being overweight is OKAY, and being confident is OKAY. 

Controversial or not, it’s up to you whether or not to watch Insatiable 

     While having many controversial and hurtful topics, the show Insatiable can be entertaining and enjoyable if you look past the rude comments and the wrong intentions. Patty’s endeavors include, Running away from home, casting out a demon, solving murder cases, dancing on taco trucks, covering up security footage, and much more that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. However, if you’re someone who struggles with their worth, weight, or sexuality, be wary of the show since, as you read above, it sends out many false messages. The show tries to claim all the jokes and hurtful comments it displays are satire, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not that’s true. Some people can look at it as satire and still enjoy the series, but some people, especially teenagers, will get false messages from it and should steer clear of it. It’s only a TV show and just because it has bad morals, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you watch it. Debby Ryan does an excellent job playing Patty and the series is one hundred percent entertaining enough to binge. It has many funny jokes (that aren’t harmful or offensive) and the cliffhangers will most definitely leave you leaning towards the TV waiting for the next series of events to unravel like yarn before you. All in all,  Insatiable is something you would expect to see from the eighties, fat shaming isn’t cool anymore Netflix, it never was.