Netflix is facing accusations of body shaming and fatphobia following the release of a trailer for its upcoming series Insatiable, which sees a teenager lose a vast amount of weight and seek revenge over the classmates who bullied her.
Critics on social media have condemned the premise of the comedy series, calling it "lazy" and triggering for people with eating disorders. More than 95k people have signed a petition calling on Netflix to cancel its 10th August release.
The trailer sees actor Debby Ryan don a fat suit to play central character Patty, nicknamed "Fatty Patty" by her classmates, who has her jaw wired shut to lose weight during the summer holidays. "High school was a nightmare," she opines.
"While my classmates were out losing their virginity, I was at home stuffing another hole. Every day I wondered 'How much more of this [name calling] I can take'? Then it hit me." She is then shown being punched in the face for being fat, before it cuts to show her having lost a significant amount of weight and embarking on her vengeful plan.
"Having my jaw wired shut lost me more than just my summer vacation. Now, I could be the former fatty who turned into a brain. Or an athlete. Or a princess. No – I’d rather have revenge."
Critics have slammed the show for using a slim actor wearing a fat suit to play the protagonist, describing it as "lazy" and "uncreative", with some saying they missed the opportunity to tell real fat people's stories in a thoughtful way.
I was showing my girlfriend the trailer and before I even took it off pause she asked, “Is that a fat suit?” People can always tell, especially *actual fat people*.— Avery Edison, Basic Attention Economy Grifter (@aedison) July 20, 2018
you have a chance to make creative, engaging, original content from fat people about fat people's lives and you choose to ... put a skinny person in a fat suit and make jokes about how sad her life is and about what a crazy bitch she turns into. That's so lazy and pathetic.— Angie Manfredi (@misskubelik) July 19, 2018
This is trash. Netflix I expected a company that’s prided itself on changing the faces in entertainment and inclusivity to be better to fat people. This story like is uncreative and fatphobic. It’s also incredibly insulting to attempt to tell an story of a fat women with a thin— Savannah✨ (@GirlcraftWorld) July 19, 2018
The biggest criticisms were of the series' premise, with many saying it perpetuates problematic stereotypes of fat women, reinforces the "revenge body" trope and encourages starvation as a weight-loss method.
Kids who bully are just miserable, badly raised arseholes. It is not, and should not ever be YOUR problem that they have a problem with you. You don’t have to conform. You don’t have to placate. Revenge isn’t a good use of your time and energy. And starving yourself is 👎🏽— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) July 20, 2018
Being fat does not mean you’re not attractive and being fat does not mean you are a social outcast and being fat does not mean that you will go nowhere and do nothing and I am SICK of media constantly making it seem that way— Caitlin (@caitlin_lyth) July 20, 2018
Someone rewrite that shitty Netflix movie but instead of a “revenge body” and weight loss, make the girl learn to love herself and choose happiness and just fucking thrive so much that the haters perish. And cast a fat girl.— gal.paladin (@PaladinGal) July 20, 2018
However, the show's writer and executive producer Lauren Gussis has suggested this wasn't the show's intention, saying it was based on her own experiences of bullying as a teenager. "I really felt like it was important to look at [bullying] head on and talk about it," she told Teen Vogue.
"And what are young women and, frankly, young men taught about appearance and how much appearance matters and whether it's OK to look different and it's OK to be different, and the feeling of 'not enough' which kind of leads through all of the characters.
"Because every single character in this show has a hole that they’re trying to fill and they’re insatiable for something whether it be validation or love, or money or power."
Actor Alyssa Milano, who stars in the show, leapt to its defence on Twitter, saying the intention was to "[address] (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming."
The current backlash mirrors that seen against the Netflix film To The Bone last year, which critics claimed glamorised anorexia and believed would be triggering to vulnerable viewers with eating disorders. Netflix defended the film, saying it wanted to raise awareness of the issue.
netflix 2017: to the bone isn't triggering misery porn, we made it because we want to RAISE AWARENESS about anorexia. we're starting a conversation about mental health!!!— 🔮 (@ungrammatically) July 20, 2018
netflix 2018: we made a comedy about a disney star in a fatsuit solving all her problems by starving herself
Refinery29 UK has contacted Netflix for comment.