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If you like your comedies dark—like, I-need-a-flashlight-level dark—mark your calendars and send out the group text for a Friday night bingewatch now: Insatiable, Netflix's new thrillingly twisted teen revenge comedy starring Disney alum Debby Ryan, premieres August 10.
The series, created by Dexter producer Lauren Gussis, stars a stellar cast that includes Dallas Roberts, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Colonna, and Ryan as our sympathetic, sometimes demented protagonist, Patty. (Or "Fatty Patty" if you're an asshole.) The plot: After years of being bullied for her weight, Patty suddenly drops a bunch of pounds, "becomes hot," and is hellbent on getting revenge on anyone who's ever made her feel shitty...by competing in beauty pageants. Sort of. It's complicated, OK?
Insatiable starts out like the quintessential teen comedy—Patty, an already beautiful girl who doesn't know she's beautiful, undergoes a makeover and becomes The Hottest Girl in High School—but it doesn't take long for things to get a lot more Heathers, not so much She's All That. For starters, Patty punches a homeless man in the face. (And yet you're on her side?) Oh, and there's also a murder plot, an AA meeting, and an inappropriate crush on a disgraced pageant coach (Roberts) who's been accused of molesting teens by uncreative town gossipers much to the chagrin of his southern socialite-wannabe wife (Milano). And a hot pink shotgun. Did I mention that's all just the first episode?
Over the phone, in an exclusive interview with Cosmopolitan.com, Ryan describes the colorfully campy series to me as "the perfect blend of hilarious and messed up and all of the above." Patty may want to do bad things, Ryan says, but that doesn't make her a bad person. "Everyone who does bad things has, in their mind, a perfectly logical and justifiable explanation for it," she says. "I don't think that a lot of people really want to see bad, people reframe and justify things in order to live with them. Ultimately, Patty cares about people."
Don't be fooled: Insatiable isn't just a wild romp. In between the catty zingers and WTF-worthy pageant outfits, the series explores more serious subjects like bullying, disordered eating, and the very high school feeling of waiting for your life to actually start. "We all wait for our lives to begin until we are a little bit more like this or a little bit less like this," Ryan says. "This is a story of a girl who has just achieved what she thought would be the jumpstart of her life, and now realizes that she spent a lot of her identity waiting for this moment and doesn't know who she is."
Nothing—and no one—is off-limits in this "incredibly inclusive and well-rounded and aware" comedy. "Everything that I've gone through and gotten therapy for and talked with my friends about, every kind of trauma and confusion and illness and strange reckoning in my life and the life of my loved ones, are dealt with on this show," Ryan says. "Comedy is a really important way for us to be able to talk about the things that are already very present and it gives us room."
The show's characters are all dealing with their own special brand of existential crisis, each one stemming from insecurities that anyone can relate to. Patty's coping mechanism just happens to be sweet, sweet revenge—a dish best served covered in sequins, big hair, and lip gloss.