Uproar over Netflix’s ‘Insatiable’ adds to summer of outrage

Barring some sort of last-minute public relations nightmare, Netflix will release the first season of “Insatiable” on Friday.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be news. The series isn’t teeming with big names — Alyssa Milano has a supporting role — and the streaming giant churns out roughly eleventy-seven series a week.

But “Insatiable” managed to break through the clutter last month when London-based artist Florence Given started a Change.org petition demanding that Netflix cancel the series because it “perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture but the objectification of women’s bodies.”

The petition has generated more than 200,000 signatures — and seemingly that many headlines — even though Given and her backers had seen less than two minutes of a hyperactive trailer and had zero idea what, if anything, the comedy perpetuates.

War of words

Shakespeare’s “Richard III” is famous for its winter of our discontent; 2018 may be remembered for its summer of our outrage.

Even if some of the fury is ginned up, it’s been a bad few months for people trying to be funny.

Michelle Wolf got the hate ball rolling April 28 when she infuriated the easily infuriated by complimenting White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ makeup.

“Like, she burns facts,” Wolf said at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, “and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye.” Angry mobs made up of people who didn’t know who Wolf was — or, likely, what a smoky eye is — insisted she be fired from whatever company employed her.

The host of TBS’ “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” faced a similar backlash a month later when, during a segment about the separation of migrant children from their parents, she directed two of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” at Ivanka Trump.

Wolf and Bee still have jobs.

But they don’t work for Disney.

Fireable offense

Roseanne Barr was still basking in the glory of her regained relevance May 29 when she unleashed a tweet many considered racist at Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to Barack Obama’s administration. Within hours, ABC showed Barr, an outspoken fan of President Donald Trump, and her resurgent “Roseanne” the door.

Because social media has been infected with a raging case of “whataboutism,” some of Barr’s most ardent supporters went looking to even the score in a Twitter version of The Chicago Way. (They take a TV show from one of yours; you take a billion-dollar film franchise from one of theirs.)

Conservative activists last month mined objectionable tweets buried in the timeline of “Guardians of the Galaxy” writer-director James Gunn, a high-profile critic of the Trump White House. The day after the tweets, many of which included jokes about pedophilia, were revealed, Gunn was fired from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” by Disney, the parent company of ABC.

The fact that most of Gunn’s selected tweets dated back to 2009, long before he was employed by Disney, was immaterial. The consensus was that by joking about such things, he was a disturbed individual — despite testimonials to the contrary from many of those who know Gunn best — who was a danger to children and never should have been allowed to work for the family-friendly company.

Unlike, say, Victor Salva, who was hired by Disney to write and direct 1995’s “Powder” after he spent time in prison for molesting a 12-year-old actor on the set of his previous film.

Punch lines in the sand

Were the “jokes” made by Barr or Gunn funny? Not particularly. But if that’s the metric on which we’re deciding careers, Bo Burnham should have been drummed out of the business long before he ever had the chance to make the stellar “Eighth Grade.”

Following Gunn’s ouster, agenda-driven critics trolled for out-of-context tweets from comics ranging from Michael Ian Black to Sarah Silverman in attempts to make similar scandals stick.

One used against Patton Oswalt was from a series of tweets literally written to show the hypocrisy of using out-of-context tweets.

When a questionable comedy sketch that “Community” creator Dan Harmon filmed in 2009 resurfaced in July, it was accompanied by pleas that he be fired from his animated comedy “Rick and Morty.”

Comedians have a long history of offending and being punished for it. Carlin’s “Seven Words” bit landed him in police custody in 1972. Among his many legal troubles, Lenny Bruce was arrested a decade before that at The Troubadour in Los Angeles for the high crime of saying “schmuck” on stage. In 1927, Mae West served 10 days in jail for writing and starring in a Broadway comedy called “Sex.” Moliere’s comedy “Tartuffe” was banned in his native Paris all the way back in 1664.

This recent wave of wrath, though, comes off as a little too opportunistic, as the professionally offended dredge up long-forgotten words and apply them to today’s no-nonsense standards.

Jokes from years ago are now met with the same vitriol as horrifying acts committed by the likes of stand-up legends Bill Cosby and Louis CK.

It’s a trend that, on both sides, is emphasizing the “political” in political correctness.

Rush to judgment

So, back to “Insatiable.”

As comedies go, it’s … not great.

High school student Patty Bladell (Debby Ryan) was bullied for years as “Fatty Patty” until she got in a fight with a homeless man, had her jaw wired shut and emerged three months later skinny and popular. Her attorney (Dallas Roberts) has more of a passion for his side job: guiding local teenagers through various beauty pageants.

Under the strain of working in obvious innuendo and other groaners, the series feels like “Desperate Housewives” meets The CW with just a hint of those Lifetime teenage stalker movies.

The one way it doesn’t offend, at least through the first two episodes, is by the very thing it’s been accused of by those who haven’t seen it: fat-shaming.

If anything, it’s guilty of shallow teenager-shaming.

The rush to judgment, though, is reminiscent of another streaming series: “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

And it’s starting to feel a lot like a cautionary tale.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Month-by-month entertainment coming in 2019
“True Detective” Season 3, HBO (Jan. 13) Travis Scott, T-Mobile Arena (Feb. 6) Robbie Williams, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas (March 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16) “Game of Thrones” Season 8, HBO (April) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 17-19) “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Smith Center (June 4-9) “The Lion King” (July 19) Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (Aug. 16-18) Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas (Sept. 20-22) “Tim Burton @ the Neon Museum” (Oct. 15) “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22) “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20)
Lacey Huszcza invites you to find something to love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic talks about the orchestra's wealth of programming. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gina Marinelli offers La Strega preview
Gina Marinelli used a pop-up New Year’s Eve dinner at Starboard Tack to preview items she’ll feature at her new Summerlin restaurant, La Strega. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Eve at Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf’s New Year’s Eve party was a sort of official unveiling of its newly renovated space. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Debra Kelleher Of The Stirling Club
Debra Kelleher, DK Hospitality President talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the Stirling Club.
Richard Ditton Of The Stirling Club
Richard Ditton, an investment partner of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
NYE at the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes reports from the reopening of the Stirling Club on New Year's Eve 2018.
Michael Stapleton of the Stirling Club
Michael Stapleton, COO of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
Recap the Countdown on Fremont Street — VIDEO
Nearly 40,000 people packed Fremont Street to enjoy America's Party Downtown. As the tradition stands, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman counted down the clock on the 3rd Street Stage, alongside her husband and former mayor, Oscar Goodman.
New Year's Eve live from the Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Fountains - Video
Reporter Aaron Drawhorn near the Bellagio Fountains as hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' five biggest NYE concerts
Imagine Dragons at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Lady Gaga at The Park Theater at Park MGM, Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at T-Mobile Arena, and Tenacious D at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye @bizutesfaye
New American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
Bellagio Conservatory display is Majestic Holiday Magic
Majestic Holiday Magic at the Bellagio Conservatory
Las Vegas Ready for 2019 NYE Fireworks Show
The city of Las Vegas is ready to celebrate "America's Party" with a new and improved fireworks show that will pay tribute to the Golden Knights.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like