Review: Insatiable

Insatiable is a dark comedy about a previously overweight girl turned present beauty queen, Patty Bladell, and her lawyer slash pageant coach, Bob Armstrong. What starts as an innocent enough chick flick about every bullied overweight teenager’s dream-come-true somehow turns into a serial killer show by the end of season one.

The show, while telling us this ill-fated take, chock-full of intensely self destructive characters, is also a satire on a number of social and political issues. Dealing with fat-shaming, bullying and pageant culture would have been expected, but, through various parallel storylines, the show also manages to touch upon sexual harassment, homophobia, addiction, mental health, LGBTQ rights, differently abled rights, animal rights and even modern American politics. “Build a wall”, “lock her up” and “drain the swamp” are expressions used literally in some hilarious tailor-made situations and the humor is often intelligent and on the nose at the same time.
I found the show entertaining but it triggered a pet peeve I’ve had with many shows lately – whatever happened to the good old times of giving viewers a likeable protagonist to root for? I get that real life is messy and it is great that TV has begun reflecting that now. But call me old-fashioned, I like having a central character I can get behind and care about. Shows like Girlboss and Fleabag (and Insatiable) seem to be a part of a new trend, where literally every character is an a**hole, especially the lead hero/heroine. Patty starts off as an understandably angry and confused teenager but devolves into a raging, self pitying, narcissistic maniac pretty soon and it gets old really fast.
Her justifications for even her most insensitive actions based on the same “poor me” logic get tiresome after a point. And if the show didn’t have a tapestry of colorful side stories, I’d have tired of her woeful voice overs and stopped watching midway, as I did with Girlboss and Fleabag (sorry, Emmys).
Insatiable as a whole, though, is worth a watch if you have 24 hours to spare bingeing. If you have an infant keeping you up all night anyway then this is three solid nights of sleepless entertainment.
There are two seasons up on Netflix currently, and I watched them together. Turns out, the critics online found the first season tone deaf to the very social issues the show seeks to address and Season 2 is seen as the producers’ attempt at redemption. I didn’t see the problems until they were pointed out by the criticisms online, and even then I remained unconvinced that the show was all that problematic. Decide for yourself how regressive / progressive / entertaining / intelligent / insipid – all adjectives used in the reviews by various critics – you found the show. Clearly the internet has not made up its mind on this one yet – a rare and unique opportunity for us to think for ourselves.

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