Insatiable is one of Netflix’s latest original shows and quite possibly one of the worst on the platform that I’ve had to endure. The series follows Patty Bladell (Debby Ryan) who after enduring a life of bullying as a result of her weight suddenly becomes thin. In the process of getting back at all the people who wronged her she hires civil lawyer/ beauty-pageant coach Bob Armstrong (Dallas Roberts) and begins to make her mark in the competitive world of beauty pageants.
This is a series that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and most certainly not in a good way. My synopsis above doesn’t even begin to prepare you for what you’ll get from Insatiable because it is so unfocused, busy, and tonally out of whack that there is no way to accurately encompass what it is other than utter crap. It presents itself as a revenge comedy/drama with a slightly silly tone and character to it but it can’t seem to stick to a single tone or feel or even genre at some points. Every episode is insanely busy from beginning to end, Insatiable fails to establish a single focus for each episode and so each one explores 6 different storylines concurrently or in succession resulting in 40 minutes that is very hard to follow. This unfocused structure and constant jumping between narratives results in constantly forgetting what happened previously as subplots are repeatedly appearing and disappearing with not a whole lot of consequence going forward. Some sub-plots especially one in the last 3 episodes come completely out of no-where, with little to no precedent and are shockingly boring and clearly just thrown in because they feel like they need to hit every corner of social commentary to be relevant.
As with the structure, the approach to tone is bizarre from the outset and it only gets more completely out of whack with each successive episode. It does establish in the first episode that this series is going to ride a very thin line of some light drama here and there whilst being driven by a certain level of silliness in the comedy. I will give credit where credit is due, when it does ride this line and stick to it there is the occasional quick witty line that caught me off guard and got a bit of a chuckle. Even within the final few episodes where it completely loses touch there are a small handful of lines that work. But the problem is it’s almost never sticking to that line. It’s either way too far down the ‘silly to the point of being downright stupid’ route or stuck trying to be seriously dramatic by pandering to relevant topics of social commentary… and failing to execute it every time.
Along with all this character personalities flip flop between episodes throughout the entire season, the genre completely changes with the tone and at one point it even tries to be a serious thriller completely out of the blue. The story just doesn’t flow and doesn’t progress in any logical sense making the whole thing incredibly difficult to follow and you just lose engagement the more you watch. Not to mention that with the cringeworthy dialogue, shocking repetitive humour, and insufferable characters it’s borderline unbearable to sit through for the 12 episode run.
As far as the performances go I honestly couldn’t possibly blame any of the actors as they seem to be playing their roles as they were instructed. The lead cast from Debby Ryan, Dallas Roberts, and Alyssa Milano to Christopher Gorham, Kimmy Shields, and Michael Provost try to bring some enjoyment to the series and do their best to make the dramatic sequences work but despite their best efforts it’s an uphill battle against the poor quality of the writing. The fact that some of the witty comedic lines do work when the show is at the right tone does show that each of the actors I mentioned above do have good comedic timing it’s just that the content of the series doesn’t give them much opportunity to show that off. It’s hard to like any of the characters in here because no-one has a strong enough personality to get behind and those that might are beyond annoying at times to the point I just wanted to stop watching.
In the end, Insatiable is an awful series that fails to stick to a single tone throughout and can’t seem to focus on a single main narrative over the course of one season. It spends its time jumping from subplot to subplot with multiple stories taking up a single episode making it hard to follow along. Aside from very few witty moments the humour constantly falls flat as it’s just too far in the stupid/silly realm. Then on the other end of the spectrum none of the serious drama works as it’s undercut by the more inherently stupid and silly tone. This is a disaster of a series that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone unless your goal is to punish someone and drive them to insanity because then this will surely do the trick.