Netflix’s new series Insatiable, hitting screens Friday, was touted by the streaming service as a dark comedy meant to spark debate on society’s ills.
Instead, critics have slammed it as fat-shaming, homophobic and denigrating to transgender people.
The offbeat show follows the story of overweight teen Patty, who is mocked and bullied incessantly until she has an accident that requires her jaw be wired shut, which causes her to shed significant weight.
With her new svelte figure, she vows to seek revenge on all those who attacked her, notably by participating in beauty contests.
The trailer prompted fierce backlash from critics accusing the show of body-shaming.
It perpetuates “not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women’s bodies,” read a petition launched last month.
With the show’s release on Friday, the petition, which calls for the series’ cancellation, had more than 229,400 signatures.
Some people also skewered the show for the way it portrayed homosexuality, including apparently making light of Patty’s best friend Nonnie for her repressed desire.
In another scene, a young girl who accidentally releases a nude photo of herself says she initially “figured everyone would think I’m a slut.”
“Now they think I’m a lesbian and that’s way worse,” she says.
And in another scene, Patty and a transgender woman compare being fat to being transgender, saying they both aspire to change their bodies.
“At the very least, it will be a conversation starter,” said Alyssa Milano, who stars in the show.
“People bring with them their own emotional history and that’s what makes art amazing and TV entertaining. I’m completely aware that it’s not a show for everybody but we’re really proud of what we did.”
Netflix’s vice president of original series, Cindy Holland, said the series explores issues “satirically, in a very over-the-top way.”
Lauren Gussis, who created the show, called it “a cautionary tale about how damaging it can be to believe the outsides are more important, to judge without going deeper.”
“Please give the show a chance,” she said.