The cast of upcoming Netflix TV series Insatiable has addressed widespread online criticism that the show encourages fat-shaming.
Although not released until 10th August, the series – which stars Debby Ryan as an overweight teenager taking revenge on bullies after losing weight – has been accused of promoting the idea that only thin people can be attractive.
Following the release of the first trailer on 19th July, a petition to stop the show being released has been signed by over 110,000 people.
The series “perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women’s bodies,” the petition’s writers claimed.
The trailer shows how, after Patty is hit in the face, she has to have her jaw wired shut during the summer holidays. She returns to school having lost weight, with the character saying in voiceover that her injuries “lost me more than just my summer vacation.”
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However, Ryan – who appears in a ‘fat suit’ for the movie – posted on Twitter that the series “addresses and confronts” issues of body-shaming “through satire”.
The actor also opened up about her own insecurities. “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 criticised for its size, and what it feels like to pray to be ignored because it’s easier than being seen,” she said.
— debbyryan (@DebbyRyan) July 21, 2018
Alyssa Milano, who plays character Coralee, also defended the show on social media.
“We are not shaming Patty,” she tweeted. “We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up.”
We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up. Also, this article does a good job of explaining it more: https://t.co/WoR8R7TjqR #Insatiable https://t.co/GFkDdsn1uh
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 19, 2018
Showrunner and writer Lauren Gussis has also said the main point of the show is to explore how dangerous fat-shaming 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,” she told Teen Vogue.
Are their points valid? We’ll simply have to see whether the show is a clever comedy highlighting how people are treated differently when they lose weight, or whether the controversial trailer is a sign of things to come.
Insatiable is released on 10th August on Netflix