A petition calling on Netflix to cancel its series Insatiable because of "fat-shaming" has garnered more than 120,000 signatures. Now its female stars and creator are defending the ’80s-style satire about a teen girl bullied for being plus-size who, after losing weight due to an incident beyond her control, exacts revenge on her tormentors, according to Variety.
The series, set to drop August 10, stars Debby Ryan as Patty, a bullied teen who undergoes a transformation after a run-in with a homeless man who hits her in the face, causing injuries that force her to spend the summer with her jaw wired shut. She returns to school with a new look and attitude that she uses against those who previously made her life a living hell.
Show creator Lauren Gussis responded to outrage over the series by revealing her personal battle with body image issues that inspired the premise.
“When I was 13, I was suicidal. My best friends dumped me, I was bullied, and I wanted revenge,” Gussis wrote. “I thought if I looked pretty on the outside, I’d feel like I was enough. Instead, I developed an eating disorder … and the kind of rage that makes you want to do dark things. … Please give the show a chance.”
A Change.org petition began circulating in response to Insatiable’s trailer, which features Ryan’s Patty in a “fat suit” and depicts the character as someone who comes into her own only when she’s forced to lose weight by having her jaw wired shut.
The series is intended as a self-reflexive dark comedy that plays on the history of teen flicks, especially considering that one of Patty’s friends reacts to her plan for vengeance by saying, “This is like every great high school movie ever made.” But the petition that has gathered 120,000-plus signatures in just a few days made it clear that what passed for satire in decades of teen films would no longer stand:
“For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human … that we must be thin. This series needs to be canceled. The damage control of releasing this series will be far worse, insidious, and sinister for teenage girls than it will be damaging for Netflix in their loss of profit.
“This series will cause eating disorders, and perpetuate the further objectification of women's bodies. The trailer has already triggered people with eating disorders. Let's stop this, and protect further damage."
Gussis was not the only person involved with the series who begged viewers to watch it instead of dismissing it based on the trailer.
Ryan, a former child star on the Disney show Jessie, defended the series against backlash by sharing her catharsis in playing Patty.
"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. Satire is a way to poke fun at the hardest things, bring darkness into the light, and enter difficult conversations,” Ryan wrote on Twitter.
"I have to laugh at my pain, otherwise I'll dissolve and weep and get stuck instead of working through it. It's a coping mechanism and, for a lot of people who are telling these stories, a healing mechanism,” Ryan continued. “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."
Twitter users outraged over the show called out actress and tireless activist Alyssa Milano for costarring in the series.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 19, 2018
Gussis responded to the exchange and said that the creators and stars are “bully shaming” and not “fat shaming” with the show.