“Insatiable” Revisited, Revisited

Following on from the previous post, we look at more of the objections against the series “Insatiable.” As described by NPR’s Linda Holmes, the show goes far beyond the baseline of crazy and obnoxious. It is an equal-opportunity offender, not limited to the stereotyping and insulting of obese people. No, it branches out into multiple areas of incorrectness, portraying…

[…] an awkward and unsexy Asian-American boy, a magical sassy godmother who is fat and black and a lesbian who exists only to educate thin white girls on how to live their best lives…

Don’t hold back, Ms. Holmes. Tell us how you really feel! And she does. It is not only the sloppy story management, a shortcoming that can be attributed to a lot of entertainment programming, that disturbs the critic. Certainly, a hip audience does not want every detail of a plot spelled out for them, but when the supporting players change without explanation or motivation, viewers sometimes feel abandoned or cheated. As for the series star, when it comes to maintaining character consistency, apparently she could learn from the most junior member of an improv troupe.

Another county heard from

Not surprisingly, reviewer Ben Travers struck the same chords. His piece in its very title refers to “12 irreparable problems” attributed to the series, mainly related to incompetent and insensitive scripting. It seems to him that everything — sexual harassment, pedophilia, same-sex attraction, murder — is treated as a joke, but with none of the intelligent points that genuine satire is expected and obligated to make.

There is no real exploration of the struggle that obese teens face, or a clear communication of the pain anyone perceived as overweight deals with. No one watching “Insatiable” will come away with more compassion for the people coping with these issues, or a better understanding of what it really means to be healthy. Travers says this “disastrous hodgepodge of mistakes is an absolute mess, and it marks the worst Netflix original series yet to be released.”


So, to return to the theme of awareness. In terms of educating the public about obesity, in children, teens, or adults, what does “Insatiable” bring to the table? Not a heck of a lot. By its haters, the show is hated sincerely, and Linda Holmes zeroes in on one scene that seems to distill the essence of why. The lead character temporarily feels bad about her beauty-queen body. A friend cheers her up, not by saying any of the things that a therapist or a truly empathetic person would say. Holmes voices the objection:

Nothing here is challenging what categories of people deserve love; only whether Patty can learn to accept that she’s been in the good category ever since they wired her jaw shut.

Series creator Lauren Gussis and some of the members of the cast have claimed that the show is about revealing the negative effects of bullying and fat-shaming, which may well have been the good-faith intent at one time, but which is nowhere in the final product.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “‘Insatiable’ Is Lazy And Dull, But At Least It’s Insulting,” NPR.org, 08/09/18
Source: “‘Insatiable’ Review: 12 Irreparable Problems,” IndieWire.com, 08/10/18
Image by Lee Coursey/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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