New Netflix show ‘Insatiable’ fails to satisfy viewers

Courtesy of IMDB

Courtesy of IMDB

If you haven’t heard of “Insatiable” yet, it’s time to get on Google. After reading extremely mixed reviews of the new Netflix show, many of which skewed negative, The Hullabaloo decided to watch a few episodes to see if all the disdain was well deserved.

For those who are unfamiliar with the show starring Disney Channel star Debby Ryan and “Dallas Buyers Club”’s Dallas Roberts, “Insatiable” follows Patty Bladell, a teenage girl living in Georgia who is overweight and bullied in school. Bladell gets punched by a homeless man, resulting in a broken jaw and a 70-pound weight loss. Her lawyer, Bob Armstrong, attempts to repair his image after being falsely accused of molestation by coaching her in beauty pageants. Bladell falls in love with him while simultaneously seeking revenge on everyone who did her wrong, but all Armstrong wants to do is win pageants in a desperate redemption attempt. As you probably can imagine, things get messy.

Going into this show, there were concerns with the sensitive topics that served as the primary plot. Fat-shaming and sexual assault are topics that need to be handled very delicately, and the clumsy storyline did not tread carefully enough when managing them. The show also featured slightly offensive, overly-thick southern accents and extreme, insensitive fat suits.

The show’s clumsiness and inability to find a tone were its major issues. It is primarily about popularity and external appearances, which gets exhausting after a while. By the middle of the season, the show’s stance on the “power” of being skinny was still uncertain. Most of the time, the story writers seem to convey that losing weight didn’t actually improve Bladell’s life, and that in order to be a pageant winner, “looks aren’t enough, she needs to feel like [a winner].” Yet there are also times when the plot revolves around how powerful Bladell is because of her newfound beauty.

Armstrong’s character was another confusing aspect of the show. His talk of cherishing the girls he coaches was eerily reminiscent a certain skeevy political figure holding office at the moment. Maybe watching the first half of the season is insufficient to truly get to know Armstrong, but it seems unlikely that a stereotypical wealthy lawyer and father in the South would care so much about helping teenage girls win beauty pageants. The writers do, however, get points for creating an original character.

In spite of the confusing plot and message of the show, the story was much more compelling than expected. While we’ve heard the same storyline a million times, this show takes on a new edge. The dark humor worked, and a lot of the satire served as a commentary on the difficulty of breaking out of social norms in wealthy Southern circles. Every single character in the show is struggling to break away from categories that society has assigned them.

Though “Insatiable” has problematic elements, it did leave The Hullabaloo hungry for more – we will be finishing the show to see how the revenge plot resolves itself.

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