NETFLIX dropped the first trailer for teen comedy series Insatiable over the weekend — but the lead actor’s dramatic transformation has some viewers fuming.
Insatiable tells the story of Patty (Debby Ryan), an overweight high-schooler and social reject who’s dubbed “Fatty Patty” and teased mercilessly by her school mates.
Until, that is, Patty has her jaw wired shut over her summer holidays, loses a lot of weight and returns to school conventionally “hot”.
Suddenly popular, Patty uses her new-found social standing to seek revenge on the teens who used to make her life hell.
The trailer’s earliest scenes — showing Ryan shuffling around in a less-than-convincing fat suit, grimly shovelling food into her mouth — have sparked a backlash from viewers, many of whom have asked why Hollywood is still putting thin actors in fat suits, some 17 years after Gwyneth Paltrow got cheap laughs playing a morbidly obese woman in Shallow Hal.
Others have expressed disappointment at the series’ apparent depiction of drastic, enforced weight loss as a path to success and popularity.
There’s even a Change.org petition demanding Netflix cancel the series, which has already amassed over 83,000 signatures.
“For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human … that we must be thin,” the petition states.
“This series will cause eating disorders, and perpetuate the further objectification of women’s bodies. The trailer has already triggered people with eating disorders. Let’s stop this, and protect further damage.”
The wave of backlash has forced several people connected with the series to defend it — including Ryan, co-star Alyssa Milano and Insatiable creator Lauren Gussis.
In a lengthy social media post, Ryan explained that it was her own body image issues that attracted her to the project.
“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 adds.
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“It was very important to Lauren Gussis, our writer and showrunner from whose brain and heart and life the character of Patty was born, as well as to me, that any scenes where Patty was heavier don’t use her size as a punchline, and never justify the abuse she suffers.
“The humour is not in the fat-shaming (or thin-shaming, slut-shaming, virgin-shaming, ‘glam-shaming,’ for fans of Arie’s season of the Bachelor…).
“The redemption is in identifying the bullies and saying ‘this is not okay.’”
Milano tweeted over the weekend that: “We are not shaming Patty.
“We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming.
“I hope that clears it up.”
A version of this story originally appeared on News.com.au.
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