Calls to can Netflix show 'Insatiable' for fat shaming

7:11 pm on 23 July 2018

It's not even available for streaming yet but Netflix's new show Insatiable is already being slammed as toxic and fat-shaming, and there are calls for it to be canned.

The US series, which comes out early next month, is about a teenage girl who loses weight when her jaw is wired shut after she's punched in the face, and who then seeks revenge on the people who have bullied her.

The two-minute trailer shows the slimmed-down main character punching people and setting one man on fire.

Since the trailer's launch on Friday afternoon, it's prompted an online backlash for its portrayal of fat people. A Facebook post by Netflix New Zealand and Australia has drawn 1300 comments, with many blasting the programme.

And an online international petition calling for it to be banned has nearly 90,00 signatures.

Massey University senior lecturer and Fat Studies scholar Cat Pausé said she was disappointed with the streaming service and wants them to bin the show.

"It's reinforcing negative stereotypes around fatness, it is normalising bulling, it's encouraging eating disorders and it's yet another 'sad fatty' trope, and those are just so tired."

Nisha Appanna, who commented on the Facebook post, agreed it was a tired old cliché.

She said it was dangerous considering New Zealand's high suicide rates.

"They don't have to keep playing this narrative that does make some people feel really bad about themselves.

"I also understand the idea of wanting to go back and get revenge, that could be fun I suppose.

"But ... they could go about and doing all of these things, and putting though that message and it being really satisfying without playing to all of these ridiculous stereotypes."

Netflix describes Insatiable as a "dark, twisted, revenge comedy" which also explores themes such as bullying, eating disorders and coming of age.

It stars former Disney actor, Debby Ryan, in the staring role. Alyssa Milano also plays a lead character.

In a social media video about the controversy, Milano said the show is intended to be satire.

Chief Censor David Shanks said unlike previous controversial Netflix shows, such as To The Bone and Thirteen Reasons Why, Insatiable did not seem to pose the same risk to public harm.

"Although I totally accept that people will find it objectionable, they'll find it offensive, and I have read comments from some commentators that the themes presented in the trailer puts pressure on the mental health of young viewers."

Mr Shanks said he has asked Netflix for more information about what the series' age classification will be, and how it will display warnings about its content.

Netflix declined to comment, but in a post on social media the show's creator, Lauren Gussis, said it was a cautionary tale about judging people based on how they look.

She asked for people to give it a chance.