Sierra Burgess Continues Insatiable's Legacy

When the trailer for Netflix’s original series Insatiable was released this summer, it was met with immediate backlash and even calls for cancelation. Insatiable follows an overweight teenage girl named Patty, who survives an assault has to have her jaw wired shut. Once she fully recovers, she has lost a lot of weight and is instantly dubbed a hottie. Patty begins to receive male attention and quickly becomes obsessed with her new body. The series which is intended to be a parody of several aspects within our society does not feel like one at all, instead it feels like a poorly thought out teen drama. Like many shows and movies before starring fat characters, Insatiable’s Patty did not remain her initial size when the story ended. It’s as if her story did not truly begin until she lost the weight. In addition, Patty was a vengeful character hell bent on the idea of getting back at those who previously wronged her. The idea of a revenge body and using one’s body as an instrument of revenge is very dangerous.

Insatiable initially received backlash for the use of a fat suit, and insinuating that someone who is fat is not considered worthy until they lose weight. Around the same time that the show premiered, the trailer for Netflix’s original movie Sierra Burges Is A Loser was released. The trailer appeared promising; Sierra was a character who was obviously comfortable in her body, even referring to herself as a “magnificent beast." The movie also featured a star studded cast from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’s Noah Centineo, Stranger Things' Shannon Purser, Loretta Devine, and This Is Us’s Chrissy Metz.

Despite this, Sierra Burges was disappointing literally from the start. In one of the first scenes of the movie, Sierra is assigned a poem in her English class and a fellow classmate makes a joke at the lgbtq community’s expense. When assigned the poem, the classmate remarks to Sierra: “Maybe yours can be about your trans experience, super topical.” Comments like these continue throughout the movie with the lgbtq community as the butt of the joke. Sierra is often called a lesbian and at one point in the movie she even is called a transvestite.

The problems don’t end there however. Typical high school mean girl Mackenzie gives Sierra’s number to a quarterback from a rival school named Jamey; when he shows interest in Sierra, she does not initially tell him her true identity. Instead, she continues this facade for the majority of the film. Mackenzie later assists Sierra in catfishing Jamey and even goes on a date with him on Sierra’s behalf. Sierra watches Mackenzie and Jamey interacting from afar, blending into the background, at one point she even lays under Jamey’s car while he and Mackenzie speak.

One of the events that occurs in this scene has received a substantial amount of backlash from viewers. While watching from under the car, Sierra observes Jamey and Mackenzie flirting, Jamey then begins to lean in for a kiss. At this moment, Mackenzie signals Sierra to emerge from under the car and take her place to kiss Jamey, without his consent. Critics have called this scene disgusting and have called for Netflix to release a statement apologizing for this act. The movie continues with more cringe filled moments, including Sierra pretending to be deaf in an attempt to continue her facade.

At the end of the movie, Sierra gets her happy ending. Jamey learns of her lying and still chooses her. They kiss, this time with consent, hop into his truck, and ride away to happily ever after, homecoming. These two projects are just several examples of Netflix’s long history of problematic pieces. Netflix must further evaluate their original works before their release and ensure that they are creating content that is important and informative, especially for young adult audiences.