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TV Series Review

What a difference 70 pounds can make.

So Patty Bladell discovers. And now that this former overweight high school student is beauty-queen pretty, she's going to make anyone who ever mocked, bullied or ignored her when she was a "fatty" pay. And unlike Patty, it won't be pretty.

By the way, neither is the show.

A Pound of Flesh

I'll say this about Netflix's Insatiable: The series is fittingly named. It's predicated on the apparently unrestrainable cravings of its characters, beginning, naturally, with Patty herself.

Patty has had an unhealthy relationship with food from the time she was 8. Her mother—a one-time pageant winner herself—says that Patty's childhood could not have been easy: "Looking like that, and having a mother who looks like me," she sighs.

But that all changed after a homeless guy tried to steal a chocolate bar from Patty. "It's not like you need it, fatty!" the man told her.

That led to a very literal food fight: She broke his nose. He broke her jaw, which needed to be wired shut and forced her to subsist on a liquid diet for three months. By the time the fight transitions to the courtroom, Patty's shed the weight equivalent to a pre-pubescent middle schooler and has become the apple of her lawyer's appraising eye.

Oh, don't get the wrong idea. See, Bob Armstrong moonlights as a beauty-queen coach. His appreciation for Patty's pretty form is purely platonic, he insists. Not that anyone else would buy that line. Bob was once accused of inappropriately touching a former pageant client, and he does seem to land in compromising positions with young, often underage, women on a disturbingly regular basis. His own words even undercut his innocence at times.

"I'm an advocate of women," he insists to Patty's mother, "especially young women. I want to touch as many of them as I possibly can."

But when he looks at Patty, he doesn't see a potential high school-age conquest. Instead, he sees a chance to reach the pinnacle of pageant success—and a chance to stick it to his rival, Bob Barnard, and his sash-wearing, crown-winning daughter, Magnolia. Patty, he says, is "My chance at redemption … [my] it gets better story for bullied fat girls and falsely accused molesters everywhere."

He has an insatiable desire to win, you see. And Patty has simply exchanged one untamable hunger for another equally unhealthy fixation: from potato chips and ice cream to carb-free revenge.

With some other carnal cravings tossed into the mix, too, of course.

Food for Thought?

Netflix loves controversial programs filled with bitter, broken teens. Just a glance at 13 Reasons Why or its made-for-TV movie To the Bone will prove the point. As such, many people took one glance at Insatiable's trailer—one that seemed to simultaneously critique fat-shaming while glamorizing thinness—and came away concerned, if not outright horrified.

Guess what? It was even worse than critics thought. Said The New York Times' Aisha Harris: "I was admittedly apprehensive going into the first episode based on the trailer, but once I watched it, I was shocked to realize that an insensitive representation of bullying and obesity might actually be the least of this show's problems."

Indeed, this show's problems are legion. Patty, 17, is determined to use sex as a weapon. She leads people on for her own nefarious purposes. She schemes to sleep with the homeless man who hit her and then crush his soul.

"Don't you want your first time to be with someone who's special? Someone who loves you?" Patty's best friend, Nonnie, asks her, the young woman's lesbian attraction to Patty plenty obvious to the viewer.

"No," an oblivious Patty responds. "I'd rather have revenge."

And then there's Bob's extraordinarily uncomfortable encounters with pretty high schoolers. The show is obsessed with these feints toward these inappropriate and often illegal would-be relationships, even if Bob himself says that he has little interest in them. And yet, he still uses these girls for his own purposes, too—to settle his own vendettas and further his own naked ambition.

Though presented as a satire, Insatiable still feels quite unseemly: A guilty pleasure with extra guilt, hold the pleasure. This is one item on Netflix's menu that I'd send back.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Aug. 10, 2018: "Pilot"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Dallas Roberts as Bob Armstrong; Debby Ryan as Patty Bladell; Christopher Gorham as Bob Barnard; Kimmy Shields as Nonnie Thompson; Daniel Kang as Donald Choi; Erinn Westbrook as Magnolia Barnard; Michael Provost as Brick Armstrong; Irene Choi as Dixie Sinclair; Alyssa Milano as Coralee Armstrong; James Lastovic as Christian Keene; Arden Myrin as Regina Sinclair; Sarah Colonna as Angie Bladell

Director

Distributor

Network

Netflix

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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