“Skinny is magic” is a sentence used twice in the first episode of the Netflix’s new show Insatiable.
It’s beyond problematic, and it’s also just the tip of the iceberg as to why this TV show is so damaging. However, after speaking to an expert about the issues it raises, I discovered it’s also an excellent teaching opportunity for parents.
Netflix faced significant backlash online after releasing the first trailer for their new original TV series because it promotes ‘fat-shaming‘ – despite what the creators claim. The 12-episode series follows a high school student named Patty, who is nicknamed ‘Fatty Patty’ by classmates and bullied for her weight. Everything changes, however, when she’s punched in the face and has to have her jaw wired shut. When Patty (Debby Ryan) returns to school after summer break, she’s thin, ‘hot’ and thirsty for revenge against her bullies.
That is seriously the plot of a show that Netflix has made in 2018.
Revenge is the main aim of the game and it’s served cold, not just in terms of Patty’s emotions but also as in “a cold, dead fish.” Forget about the fat-shaming for a moment; the show is utterly uninspiring, and completely bereft of humour. There’s no wit. There’s no sass. There’s actually even barely a plausible plot.
One of its taglines is “it’s a coming of rage story”.
But as all parents know, the more controversial a show is, the more likely it is that our kids will want to watch it. So, anticipating that it will be discussed by his mates at school, I sat down with my 11-year-old to watch the first episode of Insatiable.
From the first scene I wanted to turn it off, but I hung in there because I believe in teaching my son resilience. (Yes, I mean that tongue in cheek.)
So how did my son feel watching it? Well, here are the questions he asked me:
- Why are you making me watch this? It’s not even funny. Isn’t it meant to be a comedy?
- Why do they make her look bad just because she’s overweight? People who aren’t skinny don’t look sad and wear horrible clothes all the time. Just like you, mum. You always look beautiful. (Yes, he wanted something from me.)
- I know lots of people who look like that who are happy and don’t get picked on for being fat.
- Why is Patty so mean when she’s skinny? I thought she would be happier now that people are being nice to her?
My response? “I’m just as confused as you are, buddy.”