*This review will contain spoilers.
On Friday, September 7, Netflix premiered Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, another original film starring Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’s Noah Centineo. The movie depicts a teenage Sierra (Shannon Purser) trying to figure out who she is as part of an effort to write the perfect entrance letter for Stanford University. Ashamed of who she is, Sierra gets bullied daily by the resident Regina George, who gives Jamey (Noah Centineo) Sierra’s phone number in an attempt to avoid him. Jamey begins texting Sierra, and she continues texting him even though she knows he is not who she thinks she is. After trying very hard to conceal her identity, Sierra ultimately wins the affections of her secret (and unaware) admirerer.
Overall, this movie details a pretty problematic catfishing situation. Jamey was fooled into texting the wrong person for the entire movie. Sierra and Veronica (Kristine Froseth) lied to and deceived him. They knew he was actually falling for Sierra even though he thought he was texting Veronica, and they refused to confess because Sierra was worried he would not like her since she did not look like Veronica. It is true that anyone would feel some serious sympathy for Sierra, but nobody deserves to be catfished. By the end of the film, the audience is not even rooting for who they are supposed to be hoping will get together in the end.
Perhaps most problematic of this whole movie was the kissing scene. Jamey was having a great night with Veronica when he tried to kiss her at the end of their date. Veronica made him close his eyes while Sierra crawled out from her hiding spot beneath his car and kissed him, all while holding her hand over his eyes so he would not see that he was kissing someone other than who he wanted to kiss. Ultimately, Jamey consented to kissing Veronica and not Sierra, and for them to switch on him is just plain wrong.
Despite this whole catfishing situation, the movie does have some redeeming qualities. Particularly, the film was able to successfully draw out sympathy for the original mean girl character. It was particularly difficult to watch the scene with Veronica and her family, as her overbearing and controlling mother only lives to produce pageant show daughters and her sisters mock and ridicule her intelligence. Also, who can forget the boy that stole all our hearts just weeks before this movie’s release: Noah Centineo. His character is equally sweet and charming in this film, giving his fans just another reason to adore him.
Overall, this film has a serious catfishing storyline, but attempts to correct this major flaw with intense character depth and by drawing out the pathos of the audience for the main character. This movie is still on Netflix, so check it out for yourself.