All over social media, people are going crazy about Netflix's new show, "Insatiable." The plot follows overweight high schooler Patty, portrayed by Debby Ryan, as she loses weight and starts entering beauty pageants in response to the unabating bullying she faces every day at school. Naturally, this has caused a lot of controversies as weight and body shaming are such relevant issues, particularly in the summer months.
To start, I would first like to make it clear that everyone should be comfortable with themselves, whether they are fat, skinny, or somewhere in between the two, but sometimes our weight needs to be altered in order to live a healthy lifestyle. In the trailer, we see that Patty struggles in her physical education class, making it apparent that her health is being affected by her size, meaning a lifestyle change may be in order to improve her health and physical abilities.
The first thing Netflix got entirely wrong was that Patty should change because her peers were pressuring her to do so, and then showing how after she managed to lose the weight that her life completely changed. This is a terrible message to send young girls who may watch this and think that the way to fix their problems is to change themselves physically and that their physical appearance is what will make people like them.
Alternatively, they could have had Patty realize how her eating habits were negatively impacting her, and make changes that she chose to make, instead of showing her decide to lose weight after becoming overwhelmed by the bullying and essentially allowing her peers to choose how she lives her life.
There are plenty of kids who watch Netflix, and I cannot help but worry about what kind of message this show will be sending them; if people make fun of you, change yourself? That is not the type of attitude such a large entertainment company should be encouraging and putting in front of an audience that may be very impressionable. I see no benefit in showing how happy the protagonist is now that she has gone through an intensive lifestyle change when that change was inspired by bullies. Are we trying to show people that bullying is a positive thing?
With all of the other mean-spirited comedy in today's television that seeps into our culture, one cannot help but worry that messages that so clearly promote treating other people poorly will also find its way into our world, especially after all of the work that has been done in recent years to stop bullying. Are we really willing to counteract years of working towards being kinder to be entertained for an hour by a girl and her self-esteem being destroyed to the point that she gives in to the pressure?
Another controversial Netflix show, "13 Reasons Why," has been deemed inappropriate or educational, depending on who you ask, but "Insatiable" seems to have no educational value apart from the pro-bullying and pro-succumbing to peer pressure that is the opposite of what we want people to learn. More mature, older audiences may find the plot humorous in how crazy it would be for a girl to lose weight simply because her classmates made fun of her, but not all people will be able to look at this as an exaggeration for the screen, but will instead find this to be acceptable, and that is my biggest fear when it comes to this show.
So I, along with the majority of Netflix users, will be anxiously awaiting the release of this show on August 10th to see how Netflix handles this tough issue of adolescent body shaming.