Censorship?

Creator of new Netflix show responds to accusations of fat shaming, cautions against dangers of ‘censorship’

Debby Ryan as Patty on the Netflix series 'Insatiable.' (YouTube / Netflix)

Netflix’s new series Insatiable, which premiered on Friday, has been attracting controversy from the moment its trailer dropped. The show follows an overweight teenager who is punched by a homeless man, forcing her to have her jaw wired shut and subsist on a liquid diet. She loses 75 pounds — and then proceeds to seek revenge on the bullies who tormented her when she was heavier. A Change.org petition calling for the show’s cancellation, on the basis that it would “cause eating disorders and perpetuate the further objectification of women’s bodies,” has amassed more than 230,000 signatures.

In spite of the backlash, Netflix did not cancel the series. And recently, Insatiable’s creator, Lauren Gussis, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about some of the accusations that have been made against the show.

Gussis noted in her interview with THR that she has suffered from an eating disorder, as have a number of the writers involved in the show. Insatiable, she said, is a “cautionary tale” and the main character, Patty, is a “rage monster” who incorrectly handles her anger at the way society has mistreated her.

“There, of course, is the aspirational tale of someone who is fully healed and who does the right thing all the time,” Gussis explained. “But my truth is that because of all the messages I got fed about the way that I should look or the way that I should be, I got mis-wired, and the impulses are not good. Then, I got to play them all out to show how damaging that actually can be.”

Gussis said that ultimately, the show strives to show what happens to a person when he or she is treated cruelly — and Insatiable’s message is that Patty should never have been treated this way. When pressed to explain why, in spite of this purported mission, the show includes a great deal of fat-shaming language, Gussis said, “That’s the reality of what still happens.”

“There’s a lot of people in this country who are evolved,” she added, expressing concerns about the sharp backlash artists of all stripes often encounter when they’re work is controversial or hard-hitting. “But I know that my experience was that there are still people in the world who think that stuff is OK. To portray those people who actually exist in the world, is real. I think we’re in a real danger of censorship if we decide that we all have to tell stories in a certain way so that everybody else feels safe. In my own experience, growth comes from discomfort and pain.”

Below, watch the trailer for Insatiable.

Read the full interview at The Hollywood Reporter.

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