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.”

More TV

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police Want to Talk to Jussie Smollett as New Evidence Emerges

    Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault. Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said [...]

  • Five Takes on Canal Plus, Federation’s

    Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF

    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content