Netflix’s new teen pageant dramedy “Insatiable” came under a lot of fire from the public for “fat shaming” before it even launched on the streaming service. Yet series creator Lauren Gussis says the backlash to the marketing and the widely-circulated petition against the show did not deter Netflix’s confidence in the series.
“I talked to Netflix every single day and they never brought it up,” Gussis told Variety about potentially pulling the show before it premiered. “They were the most supportive and loving. The entire process they were very artist driven and understanding. They knew it was a satire and we discussed the issues going into it so that when the issues came up, we could poke the bear so people could talk about the them.”
The show, which was originally developed for the CW, landed at Netflix in June of 2017 after the broadcaster passed on taking the pilot to series. The show stars Debby Ryan as a bullied overweight teenager who loses over 70 pounds after having her jaw wired shut following an injury. After losing her weight, she becomes a high school beauty queen and seeks revenge on her tormentors.
At the premiere event for the show in Hollywood, Calif. Thursday, Gussis said it was important for her to use satire in the show to be able to connect with her audience about sensitive issues such as body-image shame and the underlying social politics of the high school experience.
“Being able to laugh means you’re in on the joke, which means you identify,” Gussis said. “That means people are going to be able to look at this and go, ‘I get that, and that means somebody else inherently gets me and I’m not alone, and I’m connected.'”
Ryan, who wore prosthetics during the show’s pilot to appear overweight, said she prepared for the role by listening to a podcast called “She’s All Fat,” which features two hosts discussing growing up with body positivity and struggling with personal shame at their physical appearance.
“It really comes from a place of compassion and it was such an eye-opening experience for me learning about things I could have never known,” Ryan said. “Just walking through the world with friends and people close to me with very intense and visible weight fluctuations and watching the difference in their treatment ignited a fire in me. The rage was a lot of preparation for me.”
Star Chris Gorham said it’s important for audience members to remember that “Insatiable” is a comedy and it’s meant to be laughed at. He encouraged people to watch the show before passing judgement.
“It’s a comedy at the end of the day, we want you to laugh,” Gorham said. “As big and as outlandish as these characters can be and as foolish their choices can be, they’re all based on real things and they all have holes inside of them to fill.”