Netflix's 'Insatiable' Season 1, Episode 7 Recap: 'Miss Magic Jesus'
Since its controversial trailer dropped, “Insatiable,” a Netflix series that addresses mental health topics, has made headlines for accusations of fat-shaming and the promotion of eating disorders. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s associate mental health editor, reviews episode six of “Insatiable” with the mental health community in mind.
The following is a review of the seventh episode of “Insatiable” and contains spoilers.
Content warning: This episode contains references to disordered eating that may be triggering to people with or in recovery from eating disorders.
Episode seven of “Insatiable” is all about father figures and their subsequent abandonment. Almost every one of the teenage characters goes through some sort of crisis related to their “daddy issues.” In this review, we will focus primarily on how this affects Patty (Debby Ryan) and Magnolia (Erinn Westbrook).
At the beginning of episode seven, we learn that Bob Barnard (who the show refers to as “Hot Bob”) is in possession of a video of Christian performing oral sex on Patty — on top of the church’s replica of Noah’s ark no less. Hot Bob threatens the other Bob (Patty’s pageant coach Bob Armstrong, who I will refer to as “Blonde Bob”) with the video because Patty hurt his daughter Magnolia by stealing two boys from her — Brick and Christian. If the sex tape were to be released, it could disqualify Patty from the Miss Magic Jesus pageant.
Blonde Bob then confronts Patty and Christian in the high school parking lot about the video. Patty is both afraid of losing the love of Blonde Bob (the only father figure she has) and embarrassed that he saw her orgasm. Christian, on the other hand, smugly asks, “How’d we look?” Blonde Bob and Patty then decide to “get ahead” of the potential fallout by coming clean about it to the town pastor — who just so happens to be Christian’s dad!
Meanwhile, at the Barnard house, we see Magnolia has been drinking cough syrup because she’s upset about losing two guys to Patty. Hot Bob enters the room only to be greeted as “daddy” not by Magnolia his actual daughter, but by Dixie (Irene Choi), who has been living with them. Hot Bob enlists Dixie to monitor Magnolia’s alcohol consumption.
It’s worth mentioning that the teens (particularly the teen girls) in this show have an overtly Freudian relationship with parental figures. And it’s not just Dixie’s creepy use of “daddy” when addressing Hot Bob that makes this point.
In the early episodes, Patty is infatuated by Blonde Bob. She doodles his name in her notebook and even shops for a new bra, hoping that he will take her virginity on their road trip to see Stella Rose (Beverly D’Angelo). In episode two, Magnolia gets drunk and strips down to her underwear in an attempt to seduce Blonde Bob. Even Brick, who feels emotionally abandoned by his father Blonde Bob, gets caught having an affair with Dixie’s mom Regina (Arden Myrin).
Maybe it’s fair to make the argument that having a neglectful relationship with a parent could make someone subconsciously seek out romantic relationships with an older partner who could fill that void. I might even buy this if it was one of the storylines in the show — but that’s not what happens in “Insatiable.” Instead, we see this dynamic play out in virtually every teenager’s plotline. This isn’t satire, it’s creepy.
Speaking of unlikely, after Patty comes clean to the pastor about the sex tape and is granted permission to compete, she and Blonde Bob learn Stella Rose will be a judge in the Miss Magic Jesus pageant — an obvious conflict of interest because Stella Rose hates Blonde Bob and Patty. We learn Stella Rose added Bible trivia to the competition — something Patty knows nothing about. In an effort to smooth out their differences, Blonde Bob takes Stella Rose out to lunch and learns Stella Rose is Roxy’s mom. Roxy is 19 years old and Blonde Bob’s affair with Stella Rose was 20 years ago. Is Blonde Bob Roxy’s dad? Did he and Stella Rose create the “perfect pageant girl”? The daddy issue plot thickens.
Blonde Bob sets out to figure out if Roxy is his daughter. He finds her at the gym and begins talking to her. She regards him rudely at first but then gets angry because his distraction causes her to go 15 seconds over her 30-minute workout. Blonde Bob realizes it’s because she, like him, would have to end at 40 minutes now, so she could end the workout on a “zero minute” — because he does the same thing. Is this shared quirk proof that she’s his daughter? He then calls the quirk his “OCD thing” which actually makes me want to scream because it’s yet another annoying and flippant use of OCD to describe being particular — which is not what OCD is at all. Blonde Bob then steals Roxy’s towel because there is a strand of her hair on it. He decides to DNA test it to see if he is Roxy’s father. The Roxy-Blonde Bob daddy question deeply impacts Patty, but more on that later.
Hot Bob becomes increasingly concerned about Magnolia’s drinking, not because of her well-being, but because it could affect her chances of winning the Miss Magic Jesus pageant. He expresses his concern telling her, “I’m worried about my winner.” Winner, not daughter. Hot Bob motivates Magnolia to compete by reminding her she has the opportunity to beat Patty. She responds by snorting drugs to “perk up” for the pageant.
Hot Bob’s lack of concern for his daughter’s health is another example of emotional abandonment by a father figure. Though the Barnard family looks perfect on the outside, the reality is Magnolia’s mother is absent and Hot Bob pushes his daughter to compete in pageants when she doesn’t want to. We see this pressure affect Magnolia’s mental health as we watch her become increasingly dependent on substances — both drugs and alcohol.
While many teen dramas take the route of being too “after-school special-ish” when it comes to teen use of alcohol and drugs, “Insatiable” makes light of it so much that it doesn’t seem significant at all. Because the show can’t decide whether it’s a satire or a teen drama, when we see Magnolia descend into a deeper problem with substance abuse, we as viewers are unsure of how to respond. Are we expected to laugh and ignore the seriousness of Magnolia becoming increasingly dependent on substances? This is especially problematic in light of the fact that approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die each year as a result of underage drinking.
After talking to the pastor about Patty, Patty’s mom, Angie, talks to her about the sex tape and apologizes that she didn’t provide father figures in her life. This leads Patty to open up about feeling abandoned by Blonde Bob, who didn’t show up to help her get ready for the Miss Magic Jesus pageant. Patty tells Angie she is planning to cheat on the Bible quiz portion of the pageant by having Christian steal the answers. Her mom encourages her to not cheat and offers to help her study. Finally! A positive parenting moment!
Angie takes her support of Patty a step further by calling Blonde Bob and telling him to show up to the pageant. In the pageant dressing room, Blonde Bob finally shows up and Patty’s mom tells him, “I want you to show up for Patty like you would your own daughter.” Woo, go Patty’s mom!
Magnolia wins the Bible quiz portion because, as we know, her dad stole the Bible quiz answers from Stella Rose for her. This upsets Patty, but she tries to redeem herself in the other parts of the pageant — specifically the question portion. The question the contestants are asked — I kid you not — is “How is Jesus inside of you?” (See the “Stray Observations and Future Questions” section below to read more about the way the show sexualizes religion in a tasteless way.)
Patty answers the question with an honest and heartfelt meditation on whether or not she truly believes. She says she doesn’t know if Jesus is in her at all, but if he can be her father figure, she wants in. “So if Jesus, or God or the Holy Spirit can be a father that never abandons me, I’m all in,” she says.
Despite this honest moment, Magnolia ends up winning Miss Magic Jesus and Patty wins first runner-up. Patty believes Magnolia won because she’s always had a father’s support. Patty gets angry at Blonde Bob for not being there for her and blames him for her loss. In the middle of voicing her concerns, Blonde Bob interrupts by answering a phone call that is undoubtedly the DNA results. Patty yells “I quit!” and storms off. At home she reflects and believes that her mother is right, you can’t trust any man.
As she’s reflecting on this, Christian knocks on her window and says his parents want to send him to military school so he’s skipping town. Patty is upset by the prospect of yet another man leaving her but he says he wants her to come with him to Hollywood. “Patty, I promise if you come with me, I will never ever leave you,” he says. What a load of dirt, ugh.
Blonde Bob discovers from the DNA results that he is not Roxy’s father — Hot Bob is! Why they would disclose the true DNA of the father to an unrelated party I have no idea, but hey, nothing in this show really makes that much sense. Turns out Stella Rose wanted to get back at Blonde Bob for breaking her heart so she slept with Hot Bob, the guy Blonde Bob has hated since high school. Hot Bob offers to pay off Blonde Bob for his silence. Blonde Bob refuses and says he can’t be bought. Hot Bob admits Magnolia cheated on the Bible quiz and gives Blonde Bob evidence that would disqualify Magnolia making Patty the new winner of Miss Magic Jesus.
The camera pans to Magnolia, who overhears the conversation between the Bobs. Later, Hot Bob finds Magnolia passed out on her bed with a bottle of alcohol next to her.
Blonde Bob then goes over to Patty’s house to announce that she is the winner of Miss Magic Jesus only to find that she is gone — which we know means she took off with Christian. Patty left two letters: one for her mom and one for Blonde Bob.
In the final scene, we see Patty and Christian leaving Georgia. Blonde Bob tries to call Patty, but she ignores the call.
Stray Observations and Future Questions
- Nonnie goes on a date with Dee, another Miss Magic Jesus contestant. When Patty reaches out for help studying for the Bible quiz, Nonnie initially says “yes” but decides to stay on her date with Dee instead. Yay for boundaries!
- Nonnie’s dad catches her on her date with Dee. When Nonnie and her dad watch the Miss Magic Jesus pageant and Dee begins rapping, Nonnie proudly says, “That’s my girlfriend!” and her dad puts his arm around her in support.
- When Nonnie bails on studying, Patty asks Christian to help her with Bible trivia because he’s a pastor’s son. Patty refuses his sexual advances because of the promise she made to the pastor to not engage in sexual acts anymore. Christian pressures her both to steal the quiz answers and engage sexually with him because he says God can forgive murder, so he can forgive this. Boo Christian.
- Christian’s dad finds him trying to steal the answers to the quiz. He alludes to something Christian did in Brazil and despite defending Christian and telling his wife he’s a good kid, he says maybe he can’t be saved after all. He says he’s done defending Christian. The theme of fathers abandoning their kids is consistent throughout the show.
- The Miss Magic Jesus pageant opens with a weird pageant dance when everyone is in white robes and sparkly sashes. Dee raps about “JC” a.k.a Jesus, and then the group transitions to an inappropriate song about Jesus being “inside me” and asking that the Holy Spirit “please ride me.” This song along with Patty receiving oral sex on top of Noah’s ark are two of the many examples of the show’s conflation of sex and religion. Personally, I find some kinds of religious satire hilarious (I love the movie “Saved”!) but I felt this crossed the line. It wasn’t funny, it was just tasteless.
I appreciated the show’s attempt to talk about how a father’s neglect can affect a child’s mental health, but seriously, not everyone who has been neglected by their father wants to sleep with an older man. Also, I hated the way the show handled Magnolia’s drug and alcohol abuse. It made light of it in an irreverent and potentially dangerous way. It seems like “Insatiable” can’t decide whether it’s a satire or a teen drama. Unfortunately, it does both satire and teen drama poorly, so we as viewers are left confused and frustrated. I gave the episode one star because Patty’s mom finally came through for her a bit, which was nice to see.
- How does neglect from father figures affect the mental health of the characters in the show?
- We haven’t seen Patty reach the rage levels we saw when she doused the homeless man with alcohol in the first episode. Do you think we will see this rage again? Who will it be directed at next?
Episode 8 Review: ‘Insatiable’ Uses Mental Illness, Autism and a Tumor for Cheap Laughs
Header image via Netflix.