Hagerty Journalism Online

Insatiable has a lot on its plate

Insatiable premiered on Netflix on Aug. 10.

photo by Netflix

Insatiable premiered on Netflix on Aug. 10.

Bryson Turner, Online Editor

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“Insatiable” is like that ex-girlfriend. You hope that she’ll become a better person, but she keeps disappointing. After watching all 12 episodes of this controversial Netflix original series, it’s easy to see that this show has many more issues than just fat-shaming.

Patty Bladell (Debby Ryan) is a high school student who used to be bullied because of her weight, but after an altercation with a homeless man forced her into a liquids-only diet for three months, she lost 70 pounds and was “Fatty Patty” no more. Now, with the help of disgraced lawyer and beauty pageant coach, Bob Armstrong (Dallas Roberts), Patty navigates her senior year, as well as the pageant circuit, to get revenge on those who wronged her.

This is one of the most badly written shows Netflix has ever shelled out, and the saddest part is that it didn’t need to be this way.

The most glaring issue this series encounters is its unlikeable cast of characters. It’s not the actors gave terrible performances, they certainly gave it their all and that deserves to be recognized, it’s that the roles they were given are just terrible characters. On a number of occasions, whether it be in Patty and Bob’s love lives or personal lives, the character or relationship development that had been built up for that one episode or several episodes was destroyed. There was a lot of promise for this show, as some of the relationships that it tried to push seemed very well written, like Patty and Bob’s wife, Coralee (Alyssa Milano), or Bob and his longtime rival Bob Barnard (Christopher Horham), but any type of charm these characters have is lost in favor of a shocking twist or sudden betrayal that derails everything.

The only character in this series that actually had a complete arc was Patty’s best friend, Nonnie (Kimmy Shields). This season has Nonnie coming to terms with her sexuality and her relationship with Patty. Unlike other plotlines in this show, this one was actually treated with respect, maturity and nuance, and in the end, she’s the only character that ever gets anywhere at a personal level. Everyone else feels like they’re stuck in a ditch.

With all the other plotlines, there are simply too many for 12 episodes to handle. After the first episode establishes their characters (poorly), the show seems like it’s going to detail Patty and Bob training together for the Miss Magic Jesus pageant. Meanwhile, also showing Patty’s adjustment to her new weight and her coming-of-age journey and Bob trying to recover from his false child molesting accusation as the more personal side plots. However, that isn’t the case. Instead, it goes all over the place, from Bob going to his old coaching mentor for advice to Bob’s wife Coralee trying to become an entrepreneur, to Patty trying to exorcise a demon inside her. One can watch the first six episodes and feel like they watched an entire season, only to realize there’s still another six episodes to go.

But all these criticisms pale in comparison, at least publicly, to the fat-shaming. Insatiable began making headlines a week before its release after a change.org petition with 100,000 signatures accused the show of fat-shaming, and many other critics pointed out poor treatment of the LGBT community.

However, it seems that, while these criticisms are valid, they ignore that the series is a dark comedy and a comedy-drama. Unfortunately, it ends up becoming the show’s most fundamental flaw

Granted, it is possible to blend dark comedy with drama and make it work—just look at “BoJack Horseman,” one of Netflix’s most acclaimed series. However, what makes “BoJack” work is that the jokes are on the characters and not the subject matter.

This is unfortunate. It’s not that these writers can’t write funny jokes. In fact, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments throughout the series. Yet, they still had to write dramatic scenes in order to move the plot along, which leads to major inconsistencies. If this show was a straight drama and only used comedy when there needed to be some relief, then perhaps it could have worked better. It’s wasted potential.

If one watches “Insatiable,” they can get what the show is going for. It’s trying to be a coming-of-age story about a girl finding herself both physically and emotionally. However, considering the subject matter involved, this series is just not the right concept to call for comedy.

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Insatiable has a lot on its plate