The controversy surrounding one Netflix teenage-aimed drama has finally faded, only to be replaced by another. 13 Reasons Why Season 2, which arrived at the end of May, was criticized for where the took the story after reaching the end of the source material. Now, with August releases just around the corner, the streaming service is facing another litany of complaints against to soon-to-be-released Insatiable. This past weekend, at the Television Critics Association, Netflix defended Insatiable after serious backlash stirred up over 100,000 signatures on a Change.org petition to cancel the show before airing.
The problem, according to viewers of the trailer and the publicity campaign, is the show seems to reinforce a dangerous narrative about eating disorders in teenage girls. (The show has not been released, and reviews are currently under embargo.)
According to the petition: (boding and italics from the original document)
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 toxicity of this series, is bigger than just this one particular series. This is not an isolated case, but part of a much larger problem that I can promise you every single woman has faced in her life, sitting somewhere on the scale of valuing their worth on their bodies, to be desirable objects for the male gaze. That is exactly what this series does. It perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women's bodies.
But according to Netflix, this is an overreaction. According to Deadline, Netflix VP of Original Series Cindy Holland said:
The creator [Lauren Gussis] felt very strongly about exploring these issues based on her own experiences, but satirically, in a very over the top way. Ultimately, the message of the show is that what is most important is you feel most comfortable [in your own self].
Fans were not buying it one bit.
For many, the problems begin with the choice to have the actress wear a fat suit instead of casting someone of size.
One of the reviewers covering the TCA event summed up Netflix's statement:
Others saw the problem as the marketing. After all, the trailer is pretty tone deaf.
Case in point:
For many, the real issue is how this represents a missed opportunity by Netflix to tell a different kind of story.
With news the petition had failed, some fans of Netflix called for an out and out boycott.
But for others, it was just the icing on the cake. Netflix canceled far more diverse shows with positive messages, like Sense8, to put out something they felt was reinforcing back messages to young women.
I mean, if they were looking for shows for teens and twenty-something aged audiences, there are far better options.
All 12 episodes of Insatiable premiere on Netflix on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018.