A woman’s petition to cancel Netflix’s upcoming dark comedy series “Insatiable” gathered more than 118,000 signatures on Change.org on Tuesday. Signatories have decried the project as a “tone-deaf” venture that encourages “fat shaming.”
The series stars Debby Ryan as a high schooler who is bullied for being overweight, before losing weight when she’s forced to get her jaw wired shut after being punched in the face by a homeless man. Several took to social media to protest the trailer, which shows Ryan with and without a fat suit to represent her character’s unplanned weight transformation that garners positive attention from her classmates, whom she wishes to take vengeance on.
“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 reads. “This series needs to be cancelled. The damage control of releasing this series will be far worse, insidious, and sinister for teenage girls, than it will be damaging for Netflix in their loss of profit.”
Ryan defended the series on Twitter with a lengthy letter detailing her personal battle with body image and explaining her faith in the satirical story to “bring darkness into the light and enter difficult conversations.”
“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 criticized for its size, and what it feels like to pray to be ignored because it’s easier than being seen,” the “Jessie” alumna wrote.
— debbyryan (@DebbyRyan) July 21, 2018
Actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who also stars in the show, addressed the fat-shaming controversy in multiple tweets, including a 31-minute video post, which she captioned, “Let’s talk about that #Insatiable trailer!”
“We are not shaming Patty,” Milano wrote, referring to Ryan’s character. “We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up.”
We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up. Also, this article does a good job of explaining it more: https://t.co/WoR8R7TjqR #Insatiable https://t.co/GFkDdsn1uh
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 19, 2018
Writer and executive producer Lauren Gussis also shared her thoughts on the controversy, citing her personal struggles with body image, mental illness, and an eating disorder.
“When I was 13, I was suicidal,” Gussis wrote. “My best friends dumped me, I was bullied, and I wanted revenge. I thought if I looked pretty on the outside, I’d feel like I was enough. Instead, I developed an eating disorder…and the kind of rage that makes you want to do dark things … please give the show a chance.”
— Lauren Gussis (@GussisLauren) July 21, 2018
“Insatiable” is slated to launch Aug. 10 on Netflix. Representatives from the streaming service declined to comment.