A Netflix executive is standing by the company’s upcoming show “Insatiable” after more than 210,000 people signed a Change.org petition urging its cancellation over what they call its “fat-shaming” plot.
The Netflix Original series, set to premiere on the streaming service on Aug. 10, focuses on “Fatty Patty” (Debby Ryan), a high school student who is bullied for being overweight. She gets her jaw wired shut (after, the trailer implies, she is punched in the face), undergoes massive weight loss and is suddenly deemed “hot” by her peers. Patty then decides to use her newfound acceptance to get revenge on her tormentors.
Much of the story is based on the personal experiences of Lauren Gussis, the show’s creator, who previously wrote for “Dexter.”
When the trailer for the series dropped a little over a week ago, many saw the premise as toxic.
“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 Change.org petition reads. “We still have time to stop this series from being released, and causing a devastation of self-doubt in the minds of young girls who will think that to be happy and be worthy, they need to lose weight.”
Cindy Holland, vice president of original content at Netflix, addressed the backlash on Sunday during the 2018 Television Critics Association summer press tour.
Gussis “felt very strongly about exploring these issues based on her own experiences, but satirically, in a very over the top way,” Holland told reporters, according to Deadline. “Ultimately, the message of the show is that what is most important is you feel most comfortable” in your own self, she said. She noted that the issue of “fat shaming is in the DNA of the show.”
Some people on Twitter aren’t buying it.
Gussis responded to the outrage shortly after the trailer premiered.
Ryan confronted criticism on Twitter as well, saying she “cares deeply” about women’s bodies and how they are “shamed and policed in society.”
“Over the last few days I’ve seen how many voices are protective and fiercely outspoken about the themes that come into play in this story,” she wrote.
“I was drawn to this show’s willingness to go to real places about how difficult and scary it can be to move through a world in a body, whether you’re being praised or criticized for its size, and what it feels like to pray to be ignored because it’s easier than being seen,” she continued. “I hope fans will wait and watch the show before passing judgment.”
You can watch the full trailer for “Insatiable” below.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.