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Fat-shaming Is A Huge Problem For ‘Insatiable’—But It’s Only One Of Many

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Screenshot/Netflix

This show is filled with toxic caricatures and stereotypes

Ever since the trailer dropped for the new Netflix series Insatiable, there has been a ton of concern that the show would be filled with fat-shaming. Now that the show is able to be streamed in full, we can say that we wish that the fat-shaming weaved throughout Insatiable was the worst of the show's transgressions—but it's really only the beginning.

As anticipated by its trailer, the series is indeed fatphobic. Wherever the writers’ intentions may lie, the show's foundational premise—in which Patty (Debby Ryan), an overweight high schooler who loses 70 pounds in a few months, after having her jaw wired shut—comes across as a tone-deaf and promoting an ultra-thin ideal. And from there, it only gets worse. So bad, that, midway through the season, you forget that the fat-shaming ever occurred, so overwhelmed are you by the myriad of irrelevant, underdeveloped plot lines that have been introduced.

Among the many offensive stereotypes, caricatures, and cliched narrative threads you need to wade through, one is launched in the first episode, when a mother falsely accuses pageant trainer Bob Armstrong (Dallas Roberts) of sexually assaulting her daughter. This feels particularly egregious in the era of the #MeToo movement, but it's only the beginning. The show goes on to include slut-shaming, statutory rape, and much more. Jokes are made about every topic under the sun from molestation to, yes, eating disorders. There are trips to rehab and an exorcism, and nothing serious is ever treated seriously.

There's a defense for this: Insatiable, as per its creators, is satire. But in order to be satirical, a story must have an intelligent foundation, a clear directive and message. The writing must be smart and witty in order to get that message across. And in order to work properly, a satire must maintain the clarity of that message. Insatiable doesn't do that. Instead, it muddles together several messages, without ever being particularly clear as to what it wants to say or what it believes.

Take its original story line: Patty and her weight loss. After being tormented her entire life for being obese, “Fatty Patty” is vanquished, and she can finally start living the “amazing life” that she's sure all skinny people have. Of course, being skinny doesn't magically solve anyone's problems. But that isn't even the lesson Patty learns. Yes, she realizes that it’s not enough to be skinny. But it isn't because she doesn't love being skinny. In fact, she seems to fully believe the "skinny is magic" line that she's fed throughout the series. Instead, her continued angst comes from her quest to get revenge on everyone who ever wronged her and to fill the void in her life that food once held with that vengeance. This vengeance comes in the form of beauty pageants. With an assist from falsely accused and now-ostracized Bob, Patty works toward a future in which she will be crowned a winner and all her former tormenters can, at last, be seen as losers.

But it's impossible to root for Patty because of how filled with hate she is. This—even more than all the show's irrelevant, poorly conceived characters—is where the show's true issue lies. Insatiable wants us to believe that the years of emotional and mental abuse Patty endured are what led her to be so hateful even after shedding the pounds. The show’s creators claim that the plot is a message about the devastation that bullying can have on a teen. But it's hard to believe that the bullying made Patty into a selfish, self-absorbed murderer, or that bullying is an excuse for that. It is a far too similar narrative to the one that claims that school shooters were just treated unfairly, that their horrendous acts are actually the fault of other people. Insatiable's narrative flaws are reminiscent of those in Thirteen Reasons Why, in which teen suicide was treated flippantly, and bullying was also discussed superficially. These portrayals do more harm than good in combatting the issues they claim to want to fight against.

With such sensitive subject material, careful attention must be made to ensure that a positive message is played out. Especially when a show is targeted to a young viewership, Netflix had a responsibility to handle this narrative properly. But it failed—not just with the show, but their audience. Representations in the media can mean the world to a 12-year-old viewer who is struggling with body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Creating a series that doesn’t shine a positive light on plus-size representation and fat acceptance and, instead, does the opposite is not only distasteful but is actually harmful to viewers. 

Could a series with this premise be well-made? I believe so. But Insatiable is not. The tone is inconsistent; it seesaws between being a dark comedy and an earnest, message-driven show. But the message that “you can be beautiful on the outside, but still ugly on the inside” is over-emphasized to the point of eye-rolling. And it's a totally inaccurate portrait of what it actually means to lose such a dramatic amount of weight so quickly. It never feels satirical, just superficial.

And it's especially dismaying because when the show does handle tricky topics well, they make a real impact. Glimmers of hope for what could have been surface in a scene when Patty goes bikini shopping and is found crying in the dressing room, struggling with her deeply entrenched body image issues. As Patty is comforted by her friend, Nonnie, it's possible to see in that moment what the show could have been, but wasn't.

Perhaps the one question that really remains after seeing Insatiable is: Why make a satirical show about fat acceptance when we don't even have any serious ones about it? We desperately need a positive representation of plus-size individuals. We need characters who love themselves and are confident despite their weight. We need characters who learn to love themselves while still fat. We need plus-size performers, athletes, queen bees. We need a plus-size love story. We need writers who can capture what so many do not: that being fat does not mean being unhappy or miserable. What we don’t need is Insatiable. But as long as it's what we've got, it's important to be clear about why it's so disappointing.

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Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube www.youtube.com

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

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Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale youtu.be

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

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