Despite being barraged with an exceedingly overwhelming opposition for being ‘insensitive’, ‘crass’, ‘fat-shaming’, Netflix’s Insatiable managed to return with its second season in October 2019. Being an avid fan of dark comedies, I wasted no time in jumping on this bandwagon to catch up with this show’s diabolical antics from where I had left off.
Insatiable addresses the life trajectory of Debby Ryan’s Patty Bladell, a former overweight teenager who manages to shed her extra weight. Upon being punched in the face and having her jaw wired shut- disabling her from resuming an unhealthy diet- the universe grants her much-coveted wish. Alas, she ‘attempts’ to discard her frumpy past behind as she enrolls in a beauty pageant under the mentorship of one Bob Armstrong played by Actor Dallas Roberts. She is fueled by self-loathing and livid with the desire to avenge being relentlessly tormented.
This time Insatiable shifted the emphasis from Patty’s spiraling-out-of-control-life onto the array of choices readily available to help her ‘deal’. Not only this, but the dark-toned theme chooses to proactively address the crucial impediments savaging our aesthetic hungry society. Eating disorders, erratic behaviors, addictions, obsessive compulsions, body dysmorphia, homicide, etc. dominate the storyline to help sympathize, and thus engage in, thought-provoking dialogues.
Listed below are 5 praise-worthy solutions provided by season 2, redeeming any damage Insatiable may have inadvertently caused previously:
1. Acknowledging you have a problem
“You want to eat something that you know you shouldn’t, so you don’t. Then all you can think about is that thing, and it’s so loud. So you break down and you eat it and then you just eat everything else until you hate yourself enough to finally stop.”
The first episode aptly titled ‘Pig’ launches into Patty’s overpowering impulses whenever she is confronted with an emotional dilemma. She has a knack for digressing from facing her vices by coercing herself into latching onto another one. In the present case, it prompts her to binge on anything, and literally everything. This is candidly exhibited by her eating ‘soap flavored’ sweets out of the trash; a brutal reality of those who suffer from eating disorders.
2. Broadening the definition of eating disorders
Having identified Patty’s underlying problem, Insatiable takes the responsibility to provide an authentic solution. By the third episode, Patty thrusts herself into an ‘Overeaters Anonymous Support Group’ meeting. Much to her relief, she finds herself being embraced by her peers; emitting faith. She then gains further insight into her condition when a friend explains that ‘purging’ isn’t necessarily a definitive symptom for an ‘eating disorder.’ That you need to be able to distinguish between ‘physical’ and ‘emotional’ hunger. Or as Patty aptly puts it, “If there was a name for it, maybe there was a cure.”
3. Introduction to Capoeira
The most exciting form of releasing one’s built-up rage is demonstrated via incorporating an ‘Afro-Brazilian Discipline’. In episode #6 titled ‘Eat and Run’, Patty finds her calling in this powerful blend of martial arts and dancing. By practicing this, she unravels a unique solution to her ‘binging problem’ as her body becomes overactive in releasing the surplus of negative emotions. This is directly attributable to the sense of well-being you experience as the surge of serotonin and endorphins hit you while exercising.
4. Taking responsibility for someone other than yourself
“There are things about me, things that I never dealt with that I could use some freedom from,” says Patty.
No matter how unhinged she becomes, Patty’s narrative has never been illustrated as one to serve as a role model. Rather, her episodes of hysteria and intermittent displays of perverted sense of self-worth are what make Insatiable ‘human’. Again she gets to engage in a thoughtful activity when she is assigned a little sister in episode #4. Not only does Patty strives to build her confidence by inculcating ‘learn to love myself just the way I am’, but she also admits to ‘quick fixes’ being far from ideal in actuality. By reverting Patty’s focus to helping others, the show simplistically elucidated just how rewarding this tactic is.
Insatiable concluding on ‘the most you can be’ managed to surpass the confines of its initial message of ‘skinny is magic’. By delving into these prickly discussions and refusing to paint the protagonist in sunny-side-up colors, Insatiable draws its viewers out.
Patty’s speech where she says, “What if you’re broken? What if you are so tired of faking it that you feel sick?” not only is familiar, but it constrained me to woefully acknowledge all those times where I too had to muster up all my courage just to appear ‘normal’.
I would applaud Insatiable for splattering the controlled rage of women for having their worth reduced to their appearances so credibly onto the screen.