Netflix Productions Spark Controversy

Critics Allege Fat Shaming and Homophobic Comments

When most people think of Netflix, they think of a website or app that allows customers to view various movies, TV shows, and documentaries for a low monthly fee. In the last year or so, they have come out with what as know as Netflix Original Movies and Netflix Original Series. These productions have been for the most part successful for the company, but two of their most recent releases have stirred up some controversy in the media. Some critics claim they are body degrading and demeaning.

Insatiable, the Netflix Original Series starring Debby Ryan, is about a girl who is a lover of food and her body represents her love for food. She ends up getting in a fight and has to go on an all-liquid diet, causing her to lose weight and become very slim. (SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ IF YOU INTEND TO WATCH). The basis of the show is she becomes very thin, and, as a result, the people in her high school view her very differently. The guy she liked now pays attention to her only because of her new body, and everyone is talking about her. She gets a lot of attention and she basically “runs the town” all because she became skinny.  According to USA Today “after tens of thousands of people signed a petition calling for the show to be shelved, Netflix’s Original Series vice president Cindy Holland defended the series, saying that despite the backlash, the show is not guilty of ‘fat-shaming.’” Netflix did not respond to the public in an expected way. Most streaming websites might have been swayed to take something so disruptive down, but not Netflix. They have put their opinion out and without hesitation ready to back it up.

The Lighthouse Staff wanted to find out what the Cape Henry Community thinks about the premise of this Netflix Original show. A poll was taken asking students whether the show was degrading of anyone who was not “skinny”. Their e options were (a. Not really b. A Little c. there were some parts d. entirely). The results were 40% thought it was entirely degrading,  another 40% thought some parts were degrading, and the last 20% believed the show was a little degrading. was b. Overall, his poll shows a clear representation that 80% of the people thought Insatiable was body degrading. When asked what the show teaches young girls, Mason Wolff (‘19) said that the show tells young girls that they need to be skinny to get the attention of a guy, which is not true. As Amberly Butler (‘19) said, “ Patty the main character and her pageant coach place a sort of stigma on being plus sized. That if you are plus sized, you won’t have friends and you will be ignored, which is absolutely false.” Amberly continued, “Your pant size does not determine if you have friends or whether or not you have a good personality.”

Another controversial production put out by Netflix is Sierra Burgess is A Big Loser starring Shannon Purser. The show centers around a girl who does what is most commonly known as “catfishing” – Sierra catfishes a cute boy at her school using a popular girl’s identity. There has been lots of talk on social media about the movie for its derogatory use of the words associated with homosexuals, and the movie even tried to use being deaf as a joke. Some viewers say it’s just a movie, but others did not think it was appropriate nor acceptable. Mason Wolff (‘19) agreed with the majority of the internet how the queerphobic jokes in the movie were rude and unnecessary. When asked whether Sierra Burgess is a good role model Grace Fluharty said “although she catfished her love interest, all the facts and information she was telling him was true, except for the fact she was not the girl she claimed to be. You can not really get to know someone over social media truly, but overall I think she was a fine role model.” Whether or not she is a good or bad role model is up for interpretation. It’s really up to the viewer and their perspective.  

Even though both Insatiable and Sierra Burgess is A Big Loser had lots of controversy surrounding them, they still have not negatively affected Netflix subscriptions. Netflix does not make money directly from their Original cinema, but if they are good, people tend to be drawn to renewing their subscriptions in order to keep up with their shows that are streamed on TV and to get the bonus of the Netflix Originals. Overall, no matter how many people complain, there will always be a counter argument. This is the world we live in. Go check them out and see what you think for yourself!