Over 100,000 people have called on Netflix to cancel its controversial series, Insatiable – and now the stars of the show have spoken out.
The first trailer for the forthcoming show was released last week and was immediately met by criticism. The programme centres around Patty (Debby Ryan), who is bullied for her size but becomes attractive to her peers after losing weight.
A Change.org petition urged Netflix to cancel Insatiable, with organiser Florence Given writing: “For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, to have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human… that we must be thin.”
She continued: “The toxicity of this series is bigger than just this one particular series. This is not an isolated case, but part of a much larger problem that I can promise you every single woman has faced in her life, sitting somewhere on the scale of valuing their worth on their bodies, to be desirable objects for the male gaze. That is exactly what this series does. It perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture but the objectification of women’s bodies.”
Given said that Insatiable “will cause eating disorders and perpetuate the further objectification of women’s bodies.”
At the time of writing, 102,374 people have signed the petition. Given’s target is 150,000.
Responding to the criticism, lead actress Debby Ryan shared a lengthy response on Instagram:
“As someone who cares deeply about the way our bodies, especially women’s, are shamed and policed in society, I was so excited to work on Insatiable because it’s a show that addresses and confronts those ideas through satire,” she begins. “Satire is a way to poke fun at the hardest things, bring darkness into the light, and enter difficult conversations.”
“I have to laugh at my pain, otherwise I’ll dissolve and weep and get stuck instead of working through it,” she continues. “It’s a coping mechanism and, for a lot of people who are telling these stories, a healing mechanism. Over the last few days I’ve seen how many voices are protective and fiercely outspoken about the themes that come into play in this story. I’m grateful for that, and comforted by it, because I want those stories told right too.”
“Twelve years into my own struggles with body image, struggles that took me in and out of terrible places I never want to go again, things I choose every day to leave behind, I was drawn to this show’s willingness to go to real places about how difficult and scary it can be to move through the world in a body, whether you’re being praised or criticized for its size, and what it feels like to pray to be ignored because it’s easier than being seen,” she adds. “It was very important to Lauren Gussis, our writer and showrunner from whose brain and heart and life the character of Patty was born, as well as to me, that any scenes where Patty was heavier don’t use her size as a punchline, and never justify the abuse she suffers. The humor is not in the fat-shaming (or thin-shaming, slut-shaming, virgin-shaming, ‘glam-shaming,’ for fans of Arie’s season of the Bachelor…). The redemption is in identifying the bullies and saying ‘this is not okay.’”
“We’re not in the business of fat shaming,” she shares while going on to discuss her character. “We’re out to turn a sharp eye on broken, harmful systems that equate thinness with worth.”
“I hope fans will wait and watch the show before passing judgment,” she finishes. “If you go for this ride, I think you’ll recognize both yourself and the things that make you mad about our fractured and beauty-obsessed culture.”
— debbyryan (@DebbyRyan) July 20, 2018
Alyssa Milano (who plays Coralee) in the show, wrote on Twitter: “We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up.”
We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up. Also, this article does a good job of explaining it more: https://t.co/WoR8R7TjqR #Insatiable https://t.co/GFkDdsn1uh
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 19, 2018
Insatiable will premiere on Netflix on August 10.