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Critics Slam Netflix’s ‘Tone-Deaf’ ‘Insatiable’: ‘Teenagers Deserve Better’

Netflix’s controversial new black comedy “Insatiable” received ample criticism for its trailer alone, which spurred accusations of fat-shaming. But with all the episodes now available on the streaming service, critics are saying the actual show is “much worse.”

Insatiable” stars Disney Channel alumna Debby Ryan as a high schooler who is ridiculed for her weight until an accident requires her jaw to be wired shut, causing her to lose several pounds. Social media users skewered the trailer, which shows the newly thin Ryan strutting through the halls, plotting her former bullies’ demises as her classmates look on in newfound lust and wonder.

The body-centric plot sparked outrage from many, resulting in a petition to cancel the show with more than 200,000 signatures. Ryan and the show’s creators responded to the backlash by asking skeptics to hold their opinions until after they’d seen the series. Well, “Insatiable” has officially premiered to a Rotten Tomatoes score of 10%, and critics are overwhelmingly siding with the haters, expanding their criticisms to include more questionable plot points, such as a male beauty pageant coach falsely accused of sexual harassment.

To the cast and creators begging audiences to give the show a chance, Variety‘s Caroline Framke says, “Fair enough. But after watching all 12 episodes of ‘Insatiable’s’ debut season, I can safely and confidently report that the show is much weirder than advertised — and, in many instances, much worse.”

“Insatiable” is available to stream on Netflix as of Friday. See highlights from the critical response below:

Variety’s Caroline Framke:

“‘Insatiable’ tries extremely hard to throw edgy jokes at the wall, hoping that they will turn the show into a sharp satire of how our society shuns the weak — or something. But despite some late-breaking attempts to right the ship, neither the show’s punchlines nor its characters are sharp enough to transcend their clichéd foundations.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Lorraine Ali:

“Drama and comedy offer the chance to work it all out in a neutral zone; a place where fictional characters explore all sides of the quotient — that of the victimizer, the victim, the Heather, the bullied. ‘Insatiable’ blows that opportunity by falling back into the same trap as a billion films, TV shows and stand-up routines before it. And big girls aren’t the only target here. The series also takes aim at #MeToo, closeted homosexuality and pedophilia. A real laugh riot.”

The New York Times’ Eleanor Stanford:

“I totally agree that a show I was expecting — from the trailer — to be fatphobic turned out to be problematic in seemingly endless new ways. But I guess we should talk about how ‘Insatiable’ treats Patty’s binge-eating disorder — or fails to treat it in any meaningful way. It reminded me of the criticisms of Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ and its sensationalized depiction of teen suicide. Teenagers deserve better.”

The Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert:

“At this point, I can’t imagine blaming ‘Insatiable’ for much — for fat-shaming, for placing too much emphasis on superficialities, for making weight loss look far too easy. It’s too much of a mess to be significant. The humor is a hodgepodge of styles that contradicts itself — at times celebrating thin Patty’s new ability to make boys do anything for her, at other times condemning it.”

Vox’s Constance Grady:

“This fantasy is gross. It is born out of violent self-loathing, out of the desire to hurt and maim and punish a body that our culture has decided is unacceptable.”

Refinery29’s Ariana Romero:

“The series is more focused on proving Patty can have a terrible life no matter what her size than interrogating all the warped and dangerous ways society views women’s bodies. While ‘Insatiable’ does have a few glimmers of hope, especially towards the end, this fatal flaw suggests it’s unlikely many viewers will even get to the awaiting horror movie riffs and unexpected group sex attempts to be enjoyed. Unless audiences are up for 12 hours of mostly-hate watching, of course.”

The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon:

“It’s not hard to imagine the show’s creative team earnestly believing in their many missions. ‘Insatiable’ boasts a sprawling cast of ethnically diverse characters, broaches several different coming out stories, casts trans actors, and attempts to teach teenagers valuable lessons with a mischievous comedic edge, eschewing the kind of schmaltz that might make them feel patronized. But in reaching for an extreme, campy tone, it instead comes off as tone-deaf.”

BuzzFeed’s Jenna Guillaume:

“I made myself a cup of tea and settled down to enjoy the first episode, anticipating a positive and triumphant story of a teen who turns the tables on her bullies. Within the first 30 seconds, I experienced a familiar sinking feeling in my gut. Disappointment set in as I realised the show wasn’t going to be what I thought it was at all – that it was going to be something that hurt.”

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