You’ll like if you already like: Scream Queens, Glee, Pretty Little Liars, Jane the Virgin…
Likely timeslot: None.
If you feel like Insatiable pitch is kinda weird, it’s perfectly normal. The script is weird, the tone of it is weird, the characters are weird and the promise is even weirder. Ryan Murphy is not involved in this project, none of the people who work on it worked with him before but there’s definitely a Murphy vibe all along. It’s funny, and over the top, and ridiculous, and dark… and yes, ultimately weird. I have to confess I have some sort of PTSD since I read Jane The Virgin script a few years ago, and then wrote on it. I really thought it was dumb, and stupid, and that it would never work. And as it turned out, I was almost wrong. Almost because let’s be real: it’s not a success and it will never be. But it’s way better than I thought initially, it has a specific voice, critics are raving about it. So now, every time I read a weird script, I’m like: “be careful, think twice, maybe you’re mistaking weirdness and ridiculousness with genius!”. With Insatiable though, I’m almost sure that I’m not wrong -see I’ being cautious- it’s not gonna work. And not only because it’s weird. But I have to say, it could be a fun guilty pleasure.
First things first: who cares about beauty pageant anymore? Very few scripted shows dealt with the subject before as a central theme. It can only mean two things: it’s not an interesting enough world for a TV show and it’s really hard to find the right angle to make it more interesting than it is. It’s so superficial and full of empty people… Here, you never really get why Bob Anderson is so obsessed with it. It’s even a bit creepy at some point. He’s supposed to be an intelligent guy. He’s a lawyer… He thinks that “beauty is power”, that “everybody can be beautiful” and that’s the only reason we’re given about his strange behaviour towards his “passion”. I really don’t understand the character honestly. He’s handsome, 40, has a “perfect” family -a wife made of plastic, a quaterback son, a tomboy daughter- and apparently, he’s not gay. I don’t want to fall into clichés but… man, just come out of the closet! He behaves like the teenage girls he coaches and their stupid mothers: he’s kind of a bitch. He thrives on jealousy and rivalry. At least, he’s a unique character! At some point, he’s accused of being abusive with one of his girls. That’s when his world falls apart. And that’s when we sorta feel empathy for the poor man.
And then there’s our heroine, Patty, a bullied teenage girl known as “Fatty Patty” at school, who lived all her life in the shadow of her stunning single mother who could have been a successful beauty queen if she didn’t have her at the worst time. After an incident -she punched an homeless guy in the face- she needs a lawyer to defend her in court and that’s when she meets Bob. But she’s not the same girl anymore: she lost around 70 pounds after a liquid diet. Now she’s just like her mother was: a beauty queen in the making. She just doesn’t have any sense of fashion. And she becomes mean and a little crazy in the process, especially when she discovers her life is still shitty. Oh and she has a creepy best friend, Nonnie, who may or may not be secretly in love with her. The relationship between Patty and Bob gets weirder and weirder. They become obsessed with each others. Bob because he sees her as the “project” of his life and Patty because she’s desperately falling in love with him, seeing him as her savior. Yeah, that’s totally fucked-up.
I won’t spoil you the end of the pilot, just in case it gets ordered. You deserve a surprise. But let’s just say it gets… even creepier than it already is. Patty may be a psychopath and it involves her losing her virginity and… fire. Ugh. It’s hard not to tell you. You remember Stephen King’s Carrie? We’re not that far. And by the way, Ryan Seacrest, who produces the show, has found a way to make an appearance at the very end, playing himself. He has something to offer to Bob. Now that I think about it, maybe Bob is inspired by Seacrest? Enough said. Last things you need to know about the script: some dialogues are just hilarious, some situations too -like when Bob has to raise money for a charity about… anal cancer- and there is a voice over throughout, from different point of views -Bob and Patty mostly, but Nonnie too- which might sound a bit irritating but it definitely adds something, like it does in Jane The Virgin but in a different way. It helps it being more profound, more realistic even. More human maybe. More relatable. This pilot works as a long exposition, it’s hard to guess what’s coming next, what’s beyond the initial hook. But in the end, the writer has created something special, with its own little world and codes. And that’s not an easy thing to do.
Insatiable is not weird after all. It would be an understatement. It’s CRAZY. SCARY. CREEPY. CAMPY… DEVIOUS. SCANDALOUS. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s way edgier than anything The CW has ever done. Which makes it the odd man out. I’m impatient to know if they have the balls to pick it up to series anyway, to see the reactions. But on a less enthusiastic note: I’m not sure there’s a long-running TV series hidden behind the concept. It’s attractive somehow but for how long? And is The CW the best fit? It would have had a better chance on E! or MTV.