Netflix is coming to the defense of its controversial new comedy-drama Insatiable, which critics are demanding be canceled due to its fat-shaming.
In the wake of a petition calling for its cancellation, Netflix Vice President of Original Series Cindy Holland told TV critics at the Television Critics Association on Thursday that they have judged new Debby Ryan starring series Insatiable prematurely.
"The creator [Lauren Gussis] felt very strongly about exploring these issues based on her own experiences, but satirically, in a very over the top way," Holland said, according to Deadline.
Holland, who acknowledged that "fat shaming is in the DNA of the show," added that "ultimately, the message of the show is that what is most important is you feel most comfortable" with yourself.
Gussis, the creator of the show, has also addressed the controversy.
"When I was 13, I was suicidal. My best friends dumped me, and I wanted revenge. I thought if I looked pretty on the outside, I'd feel like I was enough. Instead, I developed an eating disorder…and the kind of rage that makes you want to do dark things," she wrote on tweet, adding that the series serves as a "cautionary tale."
The trailer for Insatiable, which is set to be made available for streaming on Aug. 10, shows Debby Ryan wearing a prosthetic fat suit as "Fatty Patty," a high school student repeatedly teased and bullied for being overweight. After having her jaw wired shut for months after a fellow student punches her, Patty undergoes a drastic weight loss and returns to school as a "former fatty," revitalized and out for revenge on everyone who bullied her.
The trailer sparked outrage and concern from both viewers and critics, who claim that Netflix has prohibited them from posting reviews of the debut episode, many worried that the series will send the message to impressionable young viewers that they have to starve themselves to lose weight and gain social acceptability.
In an effort to stop its release, an online petition was created, citing the harm that the series could potentially cause.
"For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human...that we must be thin," the petition reads.
It goes on to claim that the series "perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women's bodies" and voices fear that it will lead to the development of eating disorders as well as trigger those who already suffer from eating disorders.
The petition has since gained more than 100,000 signatures.