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Netflix is an entertainment locomotive that cannot be stopped, but producing and distributing so much original content can have the adverse effect of certain viewers potentially getting enraged by one project or another. Following in the footsteps of the controversial 13 Reasons Why and others, the upcoming dark comedy Insatiable found itself at the center of a petition-fueled backlash aimed at the show for purportedly promoting fat-shaming behavior through its trailer and narrative. But Netflix's Vice President of Original Content Cindy Holland implied those people are missing the point of what Insatiable is. In her words:
[Creator Lauren Gussis] felt very strongly about exploring these issues, based on her own experiences, but in a satirical, over-the-top way. [Criticisms of fat-shaming are] embedded within the DNA of the show.
Insatiable comes from the mind of creator Lauren Gussis, who'd previously been a writer on Showtime's Dexter, and its subject matter is personal to her and her past. As Cindy Holland put it, Gussis' goal definitely wasn't meant to inspire fat-shaming in the real world, as the show itself shines a negative light on that kind of disparaging behavior. Of course, everyone reacting harshly to the trailer wouldn't know that, since Insatiable still hasn't been released yet. So it will be very interesting to see how strong the backlash remains after subscribers are able to watch and see how balanced the viewpoints are. (Assuming they are indeed balanced.)
In a world where social media is a veritable life force, satire can often fly right over the heads of those only looking to the surface. And at a base level, Insatiable's plot does initially sound like it might be potentially unkind to overweight teens. We have Dallas Roberts' Bob, a disgraced lawyer and beauty pageant enthusiast who attempts to find success by working with Debby Ryan's Patty, whose size and weight have been the target of much ridicule and bullying from her schoolmates. With the help of Bob and his wife Coralee (Alyssa Milano), Patty sheds pounds and becomes a stereotypical princess...except for the fact that she is obsessed with getting brutal revenge on everyone who wronged her in the past.
But in some ways, Insatiable sounds more like Batman Begins to me than anything that actively aims to monger hatred for overweight people. Considering how Patty's anger and vengefulness will guide her bully-destroying actions across the 13-episode first season, one might have thought the backlash would have been tied to any Heathers-like violence that might go down at the show's high school. (Paramount Network dropped its own Heathers TV adaptation in the wake of multiple school shootings, no longer wanting to bring that dark story to audiences.) Things may not get quite so evil, though. Especially in a scene like this promoting America and horses so prominently.
Cindy Holland defended Insatiable while speaking at the TCA summer press tour (via TVLine), and we won't have too much longer to wait to see just how right she is about the show's stance on fat-shaming. But until then, it's likely that nothing will slow down the crowds that are signing the Change.org petition to get the show pulled from Netflix's schedule. The total number of signees is now above 206,000.