If you have been reading any of my previous articles you will probably have noticed a consistent message of promoting an open platform for discussion, encouraging the embrace of offensive or opposing ideas as a means of social reform and progression. However, even I have my limits, and the most recent thing to cross these self-established lines is Netflix’s latest creation ‘Insatiable’. The show has faced an uproar of backlash, unparalleled by many other TV blunders, culminating in a petition signed by over a hundred thousand people calling for the show to be axed. All of this before the show had even been released.
The premise of the show is stereotypical, sexist and degrading and the ‘dark humour’ defended by its creators falls flat in the trailer. I haven’t watched the show and already I hate it. For those who haven’t stumbled across it, the storyline follows a girl who is bullied in school for her size, gets punched in the face and has her jaw wired shut, loses weight drastically and returns to school a ‘hottie’ to seek revenge. As if that wasn’t enough, the creators have a fashioned a Pollock-esque chaos of body shaming, fat suits, paedophilia and statutory rape jokes and unadulterated persecution of minority groups. The justification? Satire.
However, amongst the mass of jokes that don’t land, the creators, who seem to be best described as the blind leading the blind, have entirely misunderstood the meaning of satire. I fully support the use of comedy and satire to provoke conversation and ultimately inspire change, something I discussed at length in a previous article, but without obvious humour, opinion and undertone satire becomes malice. You can’t call a sexist joke, racial slur or offensive moniker satirical because you ‘didn’t mean it like that’.
This show and its narrative fails so remarkably in so many ways it is impossible to even begin to tackle it. The one blinding problem that stood out to me, even in just a 30-second trailer, was the sexist flare this show so proudly boasts. I am sure there was never even a question as to whether this main character who struggles with her body image would be female. The use of a fat-suit makes the entire show feel cheap and nasty, and the use of following a liquid diet to lose weight is not only ridiculous but also incredibly dangerous for viewers. While the creators defended the weight loss as showing that losing weight doesn’t make you happy, did it not occur to them for the character to remain the same size and be happy?
As I mentioned, I haven’t seen the show. I watched the trailer, read about the backlash and skimmed the reviews. I don’t want to watch it, I don’t want to endorse something that feels so distasteful and cruel, perpetuating everything I stand against. However, part of me feels hypocritical for forming such a strong opinion before watching it for myself. I have formed my view off the back of other people’s opinions, without confronting it myself and coming to my own conclusion. The bad press and reviews have acted as a form of censorship, shaping my opinions in alignment with their own. Maybe there is some value in watching it, even if it is just to make sure that I really do hate it as much as I think I do.