Netflix's 'Insatiable' Season 1, Episode 12 Recap: 'Why Bad Things Happen'
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. Jordan Davidson, The Mighty’s editorial director of News and Lifestyle, reviews the final episode of “Insatiable” with the mental health community in mind.
Content warnings: The episode contains graphic assault and plotlines related to suicide that may be triggering for viewers.
What did I just watch?
That was my reaction to the last episode of “Insatiable.” After episode 12 ended, I spent a good five minutes looking for episode 13, which doesn’t exist, because surely that couldn’t be how the season ended. Of course, there is such a thing as a cliffhanger, but the ending wasn’t suspenseful. It was a train wreck.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s begin.
The episode begins with Patty realizing she’s been kidnapped by Stella Rose and Roxy. Stella Rose wants to ruin Bob’s life as punishment for not loving her back. Roxy plays along because she believes Stella put her up for adoption because she was distraught that Bob dumped her. When some hunters come knocking on the Weiner Taco mobile looking for breakfast, Patty makes a run for it, alerting the hunters she’s been kidnapped. Stella Rose replies to the hunters telling them Patty is her daughter and “mentally ill,” a lie the hunters buy.
Patty doesn’t make it far. Roxy drives by Patty running and re-kidnaps her. Fortunately for Patty, a lot of people are looking for her — Brick, Nonnie, Donald and Christian. Brick, Nonnie and Donald think Patty stole the Weiner Taco truck so she could binge eat its contents. “We need to save her from herself,” Nonnie declares. Clearly, Patty’s friends don’t have faith in her having healthy coping mechanisms. Christian, on the other hand, is trying to find Patty because he’s obsessed with her. He gives her a bracelet with a tracking device in it, but it ends up in Regina’s hands after she starts squatting in Patty’s house.
Also plotting is Magnolia. Bob Barnard told the pageant board he was the reason Magnolia cheated and so she’s been reinstated as co-Miss Magic Jesus alongside Patty. Bob doesn’t want her to compete because he’s afraid Magnolia will overdose again, but she tells him she wants to compete. They share a tense exchange and Magnolia storms off, undeterred.
Later, Magnolia meets up with Christian looking to “score” drugs. Magnolia feels her dad has replaced her with Roxy, his daughter. Thanks to Christian, Magnolia decides to sign up for the pageant despite her dad’s disapproval. Under the guise of driving Magnolia to registration for regionals, he kidnaps her to win Patty back.
While all of this is going on, Bob, Bob and Coralee try to be a “thruple” — a three-person couple. It’s obvious Bob A. is having an identity crisis, but the way the show handles it is just awkward. Coralee and Bob A. tell Bob B. they’ve always been jealous of him. Bob B. replies he’s been jealous of them. Somehow, this gets everyone turned on and the three of them get intimate and it’s everything Bob A. could’ve imagined. Later, when Stella Rose returns to tell Bob A. that she’s coaching Roxy and his pageant dreams are over, Bob doesn’t care. He has Coralee and Bob — and he’s finally happy.
Or so he thinks. Unfortunately for Bob, human relationships are complicated. Only Bob A. is onboard with the “thruple” plan. Coralee and Bob B. just want Bob to themselves. What’s Bob A. to do?
While Bob is struggling to pick between Bob and Coralee, Patty is in a tough spot of her own. Distraught that she couldn’t destroy Bob by crushing his pageant dreams, Stella Rose decides she’s going to kill Patty and stage her death to look like a suicide so that Bob feels guilty about her death.
“You’re insane,” Patty tells Stella Rose, panicking.
“No, I wasn’t,” Stella Rose replies. “I spent a year in a psycho ward and I was fine.”
Stella Rose then dictates what Patty’s suicide note will read to her. Patty refuses to play along until Stella Rose threatens to “put her face in a frier.” The note goes into Patty/Stella Rose’s reasons for feeling abandoned by Bob. The last line absolves Bob of blame with “I don’t blame you because I’m a loser and don’t deserve to live.”
Adding insult to injury, Stella Rose throws snack foods at Patty. “When you couldn’t numb the feelings with food, you took your own life,” Stella Rose tells Patty.
“That’s not who I am anymore,” she says shaking her head.
“Bullshit,” Stella Rose replies. “You’ll always be Fatty Patty. That’s your legacy.”
Somehow, the combination of Stella Rose’s harsh words and Patty’s fake suicide note give Patty clarity. She realizes the “Fatty Patty” narrative is something she’s been “fed” her whole life. In case this wasn’t clear enough, Stella Rose force-feeds Patty one of the chocolate snack weiners before leaving her in the food truck.
I’m guessing this is where the writer’s “it’s satire” defense comes in. In an attempt to view things from their perspective, I can almost see how this overfeeding of Patty, Patty being fed a story about herself, Patty overeating is meant to create a larger than life (no pun intended) example of what a society so obsessed with thinness can do to an impressionable young woman. In a sense, it’s relatable. Every person who reviewed this series for The Mighty, myself included, found Patty’s struggles with body image relatable at some point. I’d almost buy this line of reasoning if the show ended with Patty escaping — she does, she uses the cream from the snack foods to lubricate her wrist out of the handcuffs (yet another food reference…) — signing up for Regionals and then taking a long hard look at the choices she made over the past 11 episodes.
But that’s not what happens. Instead, the show takes a sharp turn down an even more dangerous path.
After Patty escapes, she signs up for Regionals and goes to meet up with Magnolia, who she thinks sent her a text saying she has something that could help her win Regionals. The text wasn’t from Magnolia though, it was from Christian who has kidnapped Magnolia so he and Patty can kill her. He thinks if they take out Magnolia, they’ll take out the competition, and thus Patty will love him again. Gross.
“What kind of person would kidnap someone?” Patty asks Christian, almost forgetting that just a day ago she kidnapped Roxy. Christian eggs her on, trying to get her to kill Magnolia. When she refuses, Christian steps in, in an attempt to keep a now conscious Magnolia silent. Patty hits Christian in the head with a tire iron, frees Magnolia and tells her to run.
But Patty doesn’t just hit him once and run away, she keeps hitting him. “You’re the villain,” Christian tells her. “Face it, you’re a bad person.”
“I’m a good person,” Patty screeches repeatedly. Each time she recites the line, she hits Christian. Christian goes silent as Patty is covered in his blood.
Patty calls Bob. She’s killed Christian and, once again, needs legal help. Meanwhile, Bob, unable to pick between Coralee and Bob B., decides the only choice he has is to end his life. Look, suicide is complicated. There are many reasons a person may want to die by suicide, and not all of them are related to mental illness. This reason, however, seems like a gross oversimplification.
Because Patty is again interrupting Bob’s suicide attempt, Bob takes this as a sign that she is once again saving him. But Patty isn’t looking to save Bob here. She wants his help figuring out what to do with Christian’s body. Bob quickly explains to Patty why they can’t call the cops, it’s not self-defense if she hit him “37 times.” Patty equates this to Bob telling her she’s a murderer and a bad person. That’s not what Bob’s saying… but, come on.
In an attempt to pacify Patty, Bob tells her she saved his life, that he wanted to die by suicide. “I never much believed in destiny,” he tells Patty, who is covered in blood. “But you and I, we’re fated.”
“I feel that way too,” she says. It would be a sweet moment if he wasn’t trying to help her cover up a murder. They try and push Christians car into a river to hide the evidence but the car doesn’t get far. Bob screams in frustration, “This has been the worst day ever, I should have killed myself!”
Ok Bob, maybe you should have just called the police on Patty and then gotten yourself a therapist. That seems like a more logical conclusion. “What else could possibly go wrong,” Bob yells.
“Well…” Patty says, bracing him for more bad news. “I may have sorta killed Stella Rose.”
Oh OK, Patty, you killed three people over the course of a 12-episode series. I didn’t realize this was the beauty queen version of “Dexter.” No big. I wonder how that’s going to play out. Except… THAT IS WHERE THE SEASON ENDS. What?
Like I said at the beginning of the review: “What did I just watch?”
Stray Observations and Future Questions
- The show never tells us what “WWDBD” means on the bracelet Christian gave Patty, but I think it means “What Would Drew Barrymore Do.”
The mental health jabs in this episode are truly awful. After the trailer for “Insatiable” was released, people were afraid of the message the show could send around disordered eating. I think worse than those messages is the mockery the show has made of mental health in general. None of these characters are healthy nor do any of them seem to have any self-awareness. There are plenty of shows centered around terrible people, but usually, there is a voice of reason, even if it’s just a character in the background raising an eyebrow. “Insatiable” lets too many harmful comments and tropes go unchecked. Yes, there are characters like Nonnie and Dee, who raise a few good points, but the show invalidates them and their voices of reason every chance it gets. Responding to criticism, Lauren Gussis, the show’s creator, said “Insatiable” is satire. I’ve tried to see it in that light, but I can’t.
As Linda Holmes, who reviewed the series for NPR, wrote:
Insatiable is satire in the same way someone who screams profanities out a car window is a spoken-word poet. Satire requires a point of view; this has none. It generally requires some feel for humor, however dark; this has none. It requires a mastery of tone; this has none. It requires a sense that the actors are all part of the same project; this has none.
Contrasting “Insatiable’s” desire to be flippantly subversive are the micro-lessons it tries to teach. You will learn nothing productive about eating disorders, healthy body image or mental health from this show, but you will be spoon-fed awkward lines about abortion and LGBTQ rights that feel too wholesome for a show populated by repugnant characters. “Insatiable” can’t have it both ways. Any good it tries to do is heavily outweighed by the bad. Sure, the talk Bob A. and Patty have about abortion and it being Patty’s body was nice. But then you have a character like Dixie — the show’s most diverse character: She’s Asian, autistic and at one point (though not for real) has a physical disability — who “Insatiable” uses as a punchline so many times it’s nauseating. With Dixie, “Insatiable” serves us tired disability tropes and even sexualizes gun usage — a topic that matters to a lot of teens, “Insatiable’s” target audience. And that’s just one of the show’s many deplorable characters.
Television doesn’t have to be educational and not all characters have to be role models. But shows should at least be entertaining. “Insatiable” offers neither of those things.
- What did you think of “Insatiable” in its entirety? What about the ending?
- Do you think “Insatiable” is satire? Why or why not?
- Do you think the show making Patty a murderer fits into the other points it’s trying to make?
Header image via Netflix