When the trailer for Netflix's new original series, Insatiable, landed a month ago, the backlash was swift.

Promoting the story of a teenage girl who goes from being fat and unpopular to thin and lusted after (hardly a unique premise in Hollywood), the trailer offered glimpses of lead actress Debby Ryan wearing a fat suit. It was enough to prompt more than 230,000 people into signing a petition asking Netflix to dump the "fat-shaming" show from its service.

I'll admit I found all this wailing and gnashing of teeth over just one minute and 52 seconds of footage a little perplexing – until I had the misfortune of actually watching a few episodes of Insatiable and discovered that the trailer is just a small taste of how bad the show really is.

Because this story of a fat girl turned skinny who's hell-bent on getting revenge over her bullies is genuinely terrible. Let me count the ways.


1: The rampant fat shaming

Insatiable's protagonist Patty Bladell (played by Ryan) is an unhappy teenager who loses a whole lot of weight after her mouth is wired shut following an altercation with a stranger who – wait for it – tries to take her chocolate bar.

This depiction of irrational, uncontrollable behaviour over food is just the first humiliating shot that's fired at 'Fatty Patty'. Throughout the series, being fat is often seen as something to poke fun at – or something to fear.

Even though the show's creator, Lauren Gussis, has been at pains to point out that Patty's life doesn't really get any better after she loses all that weight, Insatiable still perpetuates the age-old idea that people aren't worthy of attention unless they're thin.

Insatiable is packed with absurd plot points - including all the pageant circuit fodder. Photo / Supplied
Insatiable is packed with absurd plot points - including all the pageant circuit fodder. Photo / Supplied

2: What #MeToo movement?

Insatiable's other lead character is Bob Armstrong (Dallas Roberts), a lawyer and beauty pageant coach, who stumbles across the newly-thin Patty and plans to make this angry young woman his new pageant protégée.

When we first meet Bob, we find his reputation is ruined after a pageant contestant's mother gets upset with him and decides to exact revenge by screaming to a gathered crowd: "He touched [my daughter's] hoo-hoo!"

Because storylines about spiteful women making false sexual assault allegations is exactly what 2018 needs.


3: The gay best friend

This may shock you, but Insatiable also does a horrible job of representing its gay characters.

For example, Patty's best friend Nonnie (Kimmy Shields) is quite clearly in love with her, a fact that is mostly used for ridicule.

Given a humiliating and hackneyed storyline, Nonnie never rises to be more than a caricature, while another gay character revealed further down the line is also riddled with clichés.

Debby Ryan and Dallas Roberts in new Netflix show Insatiable. Photo / Supplied
Debby Ryan and Dallas Roberts in new Netflix show Insatiable. Photo / Supplied

4: The utter nonsense

Insatiable is packed with absurd plot points. And I'm not even talking about all the pageant circuit fodder.

In what is by no means an exhaustive list of the nonsensical, there are murders, kidnappings and… exorcisms?

It tries to get away with all of this by claiming to be satire, but Insatiable lacks the sharpness of concept or the clever writing to qualify as such. I still don't know exactly what it is the makers of the show are supposedly satirising - and I don't think they do either.

The whole series arc is a muddled mess, with characters swinging wildly between being cruel and kind, with no explanation as to why. This is especially evident in Patty, who chops and changes between being a wide-eyed, naïve teen and a bloodthirsty, manipulative tyrant in a heartbeat.

5: The snoozefest

Forget all of the above though: Insatiable's biggest crime is that it's a complete bore.

The writing is bad and the jokes fall flat. You need only watch the sequence of juvenile gags at a benefit for anal cancer in the first episode to get a gauge on the quality of humour and story-telling on offer here.

Overall, it's a real struggle to find a single redeemable characteristic amongst the show's many faults. With its confused story, unlikeable characters, tired jokes, and a consistent inference that being fat is akin to a crime, Insatiable is easily one of the most unappetising morsels of TV to land on our screens this year.

The entire first season of Insatiable is available to stream on Netflix.