Netflix has added another new comedy series to its growing roster of TV Originals, but Insatiable has attracted scathing reviews for its muddled comedy and and plotlines that many find offensive. Created by Lauren Gussis (Dexter), the show stars Debbie Ryan as Patty, an unhappy and overweight teenager who has her jaw wired shut after being punched in the face by a homeless man, and promptly loses 70 pounds in three months.
The newly skinny (but still quite unhappy) Patty decides to use her newfound hotness as a means of exacting revenge on everyone who was mean to her when she was "Fatty Patty." She also teams up with lawyer and beauty pageant coach Bob (Dallas Roberts), who aims to make her a beauty queen and propel them both towards better lives.
The first trailer for Insatiable attracted considerable backlash over everything from Ryan's unconvincing fat suit to its apparent revival of the tired trope of a fat person getting a diet and a makeover that makes everything in their life better. Those behind the show cautioned people to give it a chance, but for most reviewers it seems like the show just reinforced their worst fears about what it would be. Here are some of the most brutal reviews of Insatiable.
The series is more focused on proving Patty can have a terrible life no matter what her size than interrogating all the warped and dangerous ways society views women’s bodies. While Insatiable does have a few glimmers of hope, especially towards the end, this fatal flaw suggests it’s unlikely many viewers will even get to the awaiting horror movie riffs and unexpected group sex attempts to be enjoyed. Unless audiences are up for 12 hours of mostly-hate watching, of course.
Insatiable tries extremely hard to throw edgy jokes at the wall, hoping that they will turn the show into a sharp satire of how our society shuns the weak — or something. But despite some late-breaking attempts to right the ship, neither the show’s punchlines nor its characters are sharp enough to transcend their clichéd foundations.
Insatiable purports to be satire, playing every bit of offensive dialogue and questionable storyline for laughs, yet none of it is funny. In fact, the humor is so scarce that the term “dramedy”—a portmanteau that’s all the rage, especially on Netflix, where every other show blurs that line—is a misnomer because there’s very little comedy to offset the soap-operatic drama.
Insatiable, the controversial new show from Netflix that debuts on Friday, is simultaneously one of the cruelest and most poorly crafted shows I have ever seen. It spends all of its time striving desperately to reach the status of third-tier Ryan Murphy and falling flat. It has Murphy’s gleeful sadism in spades, but none of his manic camp energy; it has his treacly didacticism, but none of his genuine emotion.
I know that there is a human creator behind Netflix’s Insatiable. But this would-be binge-watch—so sloppy that it borders on inadvertent brilliance—is the exact sort of muddled glop that Netflix’s algorithm might come up with on its own... It’s enough to make anyone wonder if Netflix’s whirring computer brain, knowing that you love Dark Dramas with Strong Female Leads, has decided to become sentient.
Even calling Insatiable a television series seems to elevate it too much. If the through line is Patty’s interest in pageantry or her battle with her body, it’s abandoned and returned to, inconsequentially, in the form of cheap explication. Nothing is resolved. Nothing is learned. Patty is not only uninteresting, she’s not worth the emotional investment.
Ouch. However, while the majority of Insatiable's reviews are negative (the first season has a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), some critics did have nice things to say about it. Here's a sampling from reviewers who enjoyed the show.
Insatiable offers a deliriously rude tour of appetites, including teen lust, desperate housewifery, stage-motherhood, and the unfulfillable hunger for glory... That there is a high degree of difficulty to the comic twistedness of such developments goes toward the nerve of the series’ creator, Lauren Gussis, whose confidence seems winning as long as the pace keeps up.
Unlike the rest of the internet/humanity, I believe you should Stream It. If you’re even slightly open to enjoying it, try it out. Give it an episode or two to understand the outrage and make up your own mind as to if it’s justified. You may believe it is, but there’s also a chance you’ll be intrigued by these characters and want to see more.
Insatiable is an unexpected little gem, a series so floridly over the top as to feel like a send-up of 1980s soap operas on 21st-century steroids... For those with a taste for its salty pleasures, the first gulp of this juicy, Southern-fried dramedy should be enough to leave them craving more.
Though it has attracted a considerable amount of hate, some viewers have expressed enthusiasm for Insatiable on social media, so it does seem to have found some fans. In tone, the series is not dissimilar to its short-lived Netflix predecessor Girlboss and ongoing horror-comedy series Santa Clarita Diet, so if you liked those shows you may well find yourself easily binge-watching Patty's exploits. As with all things, we suggest that you watch at least the first episode or two for yourself to see if Insatiable is your thing or not - and let us know in the comments if you side with the critics, or if you'd be interested in seeing a second season of this teen dramedy series.
Insatiable season 1 is available now on Netflix.