Love It or Shove It?

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Love It or Shove It?

A Two-Person Discussion Dedicated to Netflix’s Insatiable

Insatiable: Netflix’s newest experiment, presented humbly by its writers as a “revenge comedy”. The show stars Debby Ryan, who you may be familiar with from her days spent playing a small-town Texan turned NYC nanny on Disney’s Jessie. In Insatiable, she’s Patty Bladell, a formerly obese high school girl whose newfound skinniness has her thirsty for vengeance on those who once tormented her for her weight.

The show is shocking with its heavy emphasis on crude humor and ridiculous stereotypes, making its secondary objective of providing social commentary particularly difficult. Movie and TV review site Rotten Tomatoes deems it worthy of a whopping 11% critic score.

So what is it about Insatiable that makes it so unwatchable? We sat down a couple of Potomac Falls students (Alex Thompson, senior; Maria-Jose Lema, sophomore) for a pilot viewing and discussion.

First and foremost, what were your impressions of the characters throughout the pilot, particularly Patty Bladell and Bob Armstrong?

Thompson: “I think Patty is a sociopath who doesn’t listen to anybody around her unless it has to do with her own personal interest, and she only cares about herself and what she wants. Same with Bob, pretty much. He doesn’t really have a character, actually.”

Lema: “True. I think Patty… if she had had less bullies she could have been more positive. It’s the bullies’ fault, the school’s fault, society’s fault for her being like this. And then Bob is just very selfish.”

Thompson: “They weren’t really relatable. I [didn’t] make connections with most of the characters.”

Do characters need to be likable for a show to be enjoyable?

Lema: “I think yes, because you need to be able to gush about a show, and to be able to gush about a show you need to be able to gush about the characters. They’re what makes the show a show; without characters you just have pictures or videos. It wouldn’t have substance.”

Thompson: “You can make a character mean or cruel or rude or inherently bad, but also have them be likable. Like, you can make them selfish and still root for them when you’re watching, reading, or whatever because you know their motivation.”

Lema: “True. It’s kind of like in nature documentaries when you’re watching the life of a little gazelle or something, and then out of nowhere a cheetah comes in and eats it. Then if you watch the life of the cheetah you see, ‘Oh, they’re hungry, they need to eat’.”

Thompson: “Yeah, and it’s got redeeming qualities. Like, I don’t like that it killed the gazelle, but it’s okay because it needs to feed its babies.”

Do you think these characters are likable?

Both: “No.”

The show has been criticized for “fat shaming” women. What messages, if any, did you perceive about the female body?

Thompson: “I actually didn’t think about this until you just brought it up. Yeah, I think it does, because it kind of brushes off the fact that she’s fat in the beginning. Like, she immediately gets rid of [the weight], and then her life, her personality, everything becomes better. She shouldn’t have to become skinny in the show to suddenly be confident.”

Lema: “I think it kind of shows that in order for women to be respected they have to have a nice body, and that in order to be confident you need to present yourself in the way that society wants women to present themselves. Which kind of leads to her personality revolving around her body, her appearance. That’s why she has no personality, that’s why she’s so selfish now.”

Part of the plotline involves Dixie Sinclair’s mother falsely accusing Bob of molesting her daughter. In light of current events, especially those regarding the #MeToo movement, do you think that this story was handled tactfully?

Lema: “I think this was not the best time to add that to the plot. That was really unnecessary, especially at this time. Because of the whole #MeToo movement, a lot of people think that the victims that are accusing men- or sexual abusers in general- are making it up for attention. When that happened, it just frustrated me, because it’s kind of justifying the point that [the victims] are not really telling the truth.”

After a conversation between Nonnie and Patty’s mother, it’s heavily implied that Nonnie is gay. Do you think a character like this is a step forward?

Thompson: “I think that it’s good that they’re including that, but the character is written poorly. Her personality is that she likes Patty, and that’s it. She’s gay, and she likes Patty, and they make that really, really obvious, and her dialogue is terrible.”

Lema: “I think they’re kind of using Nonnie as a tool.”

Some critics have commended Insatiable for being a perfectly “campy” show. “Campy” would describe something “deliberately exaggerated and theatrical in style, typically for humorous effect”- would you agree that this describes what you watched, or would you disagree?

Lema: “I think it is exaggerated, or ‘campy’. I think they might have made it seem so controversial, so opposed to what everyone else thinks that it might just be showing us what we shouldn’t be doing.”

Thompson: “I think if they were going to do something like that they should have been less subtle. Like, the part at the end [spoiler: Bob nearly kills himself, and Patty nearly burns a homeless man to death], they’re obviously trying to be serious. You can’t take that as some jokey thing.”

To wrap it up: if you were to give Insatiable a watch-ability rating out of ten, what would it be?

Lema: “I would give it an 8. It’s a pretty interesting show. Again, I think it’s a good way for us to see how we shouldn’t be.”

Thompson: “I’m gonna give it a 2 out of 10. Don’t watch it. I hated it.”

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