Update: In response to her viral petition, Florence Given, a body positivity activist and artist out of London, tells Refinery29 that despite not having seen the show, it will be too triggering for women and men who are recovering from eating disorders and body image issues. "A lot of my curvier friends who have struggled their entire lives to accept their bodies were feeling incredibly hurt, and insulted by the premise of this series," she told us via email. "Once I started the petition, thousands of girls were flooding my comments sections and my DM’s telling me that they were glad someone took a call to action, because it had triggered their eating disorder. If the show has the power to do this before it’s even been released, I can’t imagine the breeding ground this will become for eating disorders, and further insecurities."
Given isn't just criticizing this series, she thinks the entire industry needs to abandon the narrative that being thin is the ideal: "That it is not just my voice, but hundreds of thousands of people who can stand together as a collective and unified voice, to say that we won't accept this narrative anymore."
Original story follows.
Netflix's new show, Insatiable, is making people mad, and it's not even out yet. The streaming service released the first trailer for their new dramedy series last week, and the series was immediately met with harsh criticism online. For those who haven't seen the candy-colored trailer yet, it stars Debby Ryan as Patty, formerly known as "Fatty Patty." After losing a lot of weight (from her mouth being wired shut after an accident), the high schooler is seen in a new light at school. With her new figure, she finds a new purpose: to sabotage the lives of the bullies and mean girls who once taunted her. It's pretty obvious that this show is meant to push buttons and make viewers uncomfortable.
But the show will have a lot to prove considering the extremely vicious backlash it has already received. In fact, more than 100,000 people have signed a petition on Change.com to have Netflix pull the series, which is set to release on August 10. While more and more sign and share the petition (its creator, Florence Given, even appeared on NBC to address the show's controversial plot line), the show's stars are defending what they say is the actual message of the series. Ryan, who is the literal face of the series (and who wears a fat suit in her character's initial appearance) said that she pulled from her own past issues with body image and body positivity to play this role. "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 wrote in a lengthy note on Twitter that has been shared over 2,000 times.
Netflix did not have a comment to share with Refinery29 about the backlash hounding the series, but the writer and showrunner, Lauren Gussis, who also worked on Dexter, maintains that the point of the series is to shine a light on how dangerous bullying can be. "I really felt like it was important to look at [bullying] head on and talk about it. 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," she told Teen Vogue earlier this month.
Alyssa Milano, who also stars in the series, mirrored Ryan and Gussis' sentiments. "We are not shaming Patty," Milano said in a tweet. "We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up." The show's fate is unclear, but it is starting to sound more and more like a case of the Heathers.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.