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Netflix's 'Insatiable' Season 1, Episode 3 Recap: 'Miss Bareback Buckaroo'

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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. Danielle Lowe, a writer in eating disorder recovery, reviews the third episode of “Insatiable” with the mental health community in mind.

Editor's Note

The following is a review of the third episode of “Insatiable” and contains spoilers.

Content warning: This episode contains plotlines that may be triggering for those with eating disorders or who are in recovery. 

Episode three opens with Patty and Nonnie (possibly one of the only sincere characters on this show) shopping for bras. Patty delivers the opening line, “I knew skinny was magic, but now none of my bras fit. The new Patty was powerful, but with much smaller boobs.”

Cringe. Skinny is an adjective, some may even say it’s a body type  it’s not something out of Harry Potter. Too many people in this world already believe that losing weight will solve all of their problems, why do we need to hear more of it from a fictional TV show?

The two of them shop for Patty’s upcoming weekend trip to Alabama. Patty is going to see how a pageant works as well as shadow the acclaimed pageant coach, Stella Rose. Patty is also convinced that this weekend will allow sparks to finally fly between her and Bob.

When Stella and Patty meet, Stella promptly puts her hands on Patty’s breasts and guesses her bra size. Patty rightfully slaps her hand away. Bob responds to this interaction saying, “Sorry, Patty has some aggression issues,” as if to say someone reacting to unsolicited touching is out of line. (It’s not.)

In a confusing turn of events, Donald, Dixie and Nonnie head to Alabama as well. Back at the pageant, Bob re-emphasizes that “Skinny is magic,” and I cringe again for Netflix viewers.

We quickly learn that Stella and Bob not only had a past working relationship but also a romantic relationship. Stella clearly still has feelings for him and pleads for his attention saying, “Not even a 30-year-old with PMS and bipolar disorder could replace the drama you stole from me.” OK. Mental illness and female bodily functions are not a source of drama, they are both two things people commonly experience.

There’s some drama between Bob and Stella that ends with Patty later realizing both Bob and Stella want to work with her to get back at one another, not necessarily because they see something special in her. Patty feels betrayed and uncertain. To cope with this shock, Patty enters a restaurant’s crawfish eating contest.

“I needed a safe place. Somewhere I felt comfortable,” she says. “It was such a relief to stuff my face. I didn’t have to think about pageants, Stella Rose or Bob.”

This highlights a common theme for people who struggle with disordered eating or eating disorders  using disordered behaviors (whether it’s restricting, binging, pursuing or overexercising) as an escape for stress or discomfort. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, I empathize with Patty here. Eating disorders often serve as a means of coping with feelings that seem unmanageable. In my eating disorder, instead of processing uncomfortable emotions like sadness or stress, I would just engage in these behaviors as a distraction.

In the midst of the crawfish eating contest, Bob shows up and pleads with Patty to trust him again. He relates to her by detailing binging behaviors that he’s engaged in. Patty seems comforted by this reminder of their common denominator. But then things get a little weird. Patty asks him to prove his loyalty to her by beating her in the eating contest. This is another example of this show making food and weight equate to something greater than fuel, pleasure or social activity. In this case, food equals loyalty.

While they both may have struggled with disordered eating in the past and there is an incomparable bond that comes from struggling with the same thing someone else has, eating a large amount of food does not prove someone’s loyalty. Bob’s loyalty should be proven to Patty by him showing that he is trustworthy and does not have ulterior motives. Bob’s ability to eat a large amount of food tells us nothing about these attributes. Both Patty and Bob are under this false influence of the power of food.

I hope that the next episode takes a complete turn from this pageant plotline and leads to a discussion about both of their relationships with food, weight and the world, but I don’t think we are going to get that.

Stray Observations and Future Questions

  • The romantic pairings in this show are flat out weird and kind of creepy. Stella Rose is into Bob? Gross. And why is Patty so enthralled by Bob? What happened to all the boys at her high school?
  • Speaking of the boys at her high school, where is Brick this episode?
  • Given the gun violence epidemic we have in the U.S., Dixie waving around a gun in a sexual way feels vile and unnecessary.
  • Stella Rose’s star pageant student, Roxy, is played by Chloe Bridges  Nick Jonas’s love interest in “Camp Rock 2.” We can only hope for a Jonas cameo in future episodes to make me feel a little better about this show.

Our Rating: two out of five stars

I gave this episode two stars for the multiple disordered food/body image plotlines. At least in other shows that have portrayed disordered eating/eating disorders, there is usually a friend, parent or teacher who acts as a voice of reason for the person struggling. In “Insatiable,” the only person that really seems to care for Patty is her best friend Nonnie, who does not seem to have much influence over Patty. They all seem to be relatively under the same spell. Every time someone says, “Skinny is magic,” I just want to scream, “Go to therapy.”

Previous Episode

Episode 2 Review: ‘Insatiable’ Asks a Dangerous Question: Is Skinny Magic?

Next Episode

Episode 4 Review: ‘Insatiable’ Shows How Having a Neglectful Mom Can Affect Your Mental Health as an Adult

Read all “Insatiable” reviews here.

Header image via Netflix.

Originally published: August 9, 2018
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