Netflix is facing some serious heat after sharing the trailer for its upcoming series Insatiable created by Lauren Gussis and starring Debby Ryan.
Here's a quick synopsis: Patty Bladell (played by Debby Ryan, initially in a fat suit) is a plus-size high school teenager who is bullied because of her weight.
One evening, Bladell gets punched in the face and, as a result, has to have her mouth wired shut for the duration of the summer holidays. It results in dramatic weight loss.
Cue a slow-motion clip of a now-slim Bladell strutting into school on the first day to reveal her so-called revenge body.
Bladell 2.0 is now on a path to exact revenge on every person who ever bullied her. Netflix have called it: “A Coming of Rage Story”.
People have called the whole concept “toxic” and the backlash has resulted in a petition to stop the show’s scheduled release next month. Critics say it’s particularly dangerous for young and impressionable viewers.
Nineteen-year-old Florence Given, the woman behind the petition, is calling for the show to be scrapped altogether. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, she said:
“I started the petition almost immediately after one of my friends shared it on her Facebook. This show openly perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women's bodies, and that we must be thin to be desirable, receive validation and acceptance etc. It makes fatness look like something a woman must ‘overcome’ and this is an incredibly toxic message to be drilling into the minds of young, impressionable women.”
The petition has surpassed its original goal with over 4,000 signatures and continues to pick up support. In the description explaining the reasoning behind the petition, Givens writes:
“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.”
The series, described as a “dark comedy”, is receiving backlash for its storyline as well as the representation of plus-size people.
Some people aren’t impressed at all.
There are criticisms over how plus-size people are characterised.
Most of all, there is concern over the message the series is communicating to younger viewers.
The star of the show, Debby Ryan, hasn't directly responded to the wave of criticism, but appeared to defend her latest project by highlighting an article in Teen Vogue.
The Teen Vogue article explains the creator’s vision for the show and her personal experience with fat shaming and bullying. An excerpt reads:
“Lauren Gussis (whose past work includes the very dark favorite Dexter) wrote and executive produced the show; the story of Insatiable is based off [her] own experiences growing up. She calls Patty essentially the demon of her ‘inner formerly bullied teenager’.”
The article mentions both Gussis and Ryan attempting to tackle the story through “dark” comedy.
“From the get-go, Debby and Lauren aimed to use satire to address the painful issues within Patty’s story. Their goal for Insatiable is to “push the bar forward.” During the audition, Debby and Lauren ended up crying talking about how protective they were of Patty’s story and representing the character’s story fairly, and through the lens of dark comedy.”
Netflix declined to comment.
Ade Onibada is a junior reporter at BuzzFeed and is based in London.
Contact Ade Onibada at email@example.com.
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