Let's Talk About Sierra Burgess is a Loser

SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018) is a teen-comedy drama released starring Shannon Purser. The movie tells the story about a high school senior who dreams of getting into Stanford University. She’s smart, witty, part of the high school band and debate team, and she tutors on the side. However, as the title suggests, she’s seen as a bit of a loser. Sierra (Shannon Purser) doesn’t fit the traditional American ideal of beauty and is often teased by the popular girls, namely one by the name of Veronica (Kristine Froseth). 

While out with friends, Veronica gets approached by a football player named Jamey (Noah Centineo) who asks for her number. Instead of declining, she gives him Sierra's number, hoping for an embarrassing situation to develop. This results in Jamey having lengthy conversations with Serria over text message thinking she’s Veronica. Sierra, who is aware that Jamey has texted the wrong number, plays along and ends up developing feelings for him. 

I know I’m a bit late to the party but there are a few things about this movie that don't sit right with me:

 

The text relationship between Sierra and Jamey is very reminiscent of A Cinderella Story (2004) starring Hilary Duff and Chad Micheal Murry. The anonymity, the deep meaningful conversations, the fear of not being accepted if she reveals her identity because she’s not popular... However, Sierra fully acknowledges that Jamey thinks she’s someone else and continues catfishing him as if it’s not a big deal. Later when she discovers that Jamey thinks he’s texting Veronica, she continues and pretends to be her. Her best friend Dan calls her out and warns her about what she’s doing, but she justifies her actions by saying that Jamey is falling for her words despite thinking she’s someone else. 

 

 

Veronica gets dumped by her boyfriend Spence,  a freshman in college. She cries to her friends in science class, telling them that he broke up with her because she wasn’t smart enough for him. Sierra eavesdrops on the conversation, and when Veronica storms out of class she follows her. Once alone in the hallway, Sierra offers to tutor Veronica so that she can get Spence back, in exchange for Veronica help to keep up Sierra’s relationship with Jamey. Although Veronica is a bully, I find it really shady for Sierra to take advantage of her when she was most vulnerable and heartbroken to CATFISH Jamey. They go on to send him pictures and do a Facetime call, fully aware that they’re continuously lying to this guy. 

 

 

Eventually, Jamey asks Sierra (who is pretending to be Veronica) on a date. Veronica steps in and goes on the date with Jamey to the movies, with Sierra hiding in the row behind them. Afterwards, Jamey and Veronica go out to his car, and he tries to lean in for a kiss. Veronica makes Jamey keep his eyes closed to swap places with Sierra so that she can kiss him instead. IS NOBODY GOING TO ACKNOWLEDGE HOW CREEPY THAT IS? Imagine leaning in to kiss someone you’re consenting to kiss, only to pull away and see someone else? 

 

 

Whilst out with bff Dan, Sierra runs into Jamey in the park. He obviously has no idea who she is, so Dan attempts to introduce them. Worried that he’ll recognise the sound of her voice, she pretends to be DEAF and fakes sign language. This is especially cringe-worthy because Jamey’s younger brother is deaf. I’m not sure about you, but I found out someone was faking a disability I’d be pretty mad. 

 

 

Since Veronica and Sierra go to a different highschool than Jamey, they cross paths once again at a football game between their schools. Jamey greets Veronica with a kiss, and Sierra notices from a distance. Veronica is surprised and upset, Jamey is confused, and Sierra is furious. To unpack this situation, Jamey thinks that this isn’t the first time he’s kissing Veronica, Veronica is angry because she feels like she betrayed Sierra, and Sierra is super angry because she thinks that Veronica kissed him on purpose... forgetting that Jamey thinks Veronica is her? She HACKS INTO VERONICA’S SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT, passing a comment that Veronica is stupid because her password is her ex-boyfriend’s name. Sierra then goes on to screenshot and post the conversation between Veronica and her ex on Instagram, revealing that he dumped her via direct message as an attempt to humiliate her and ruin her chances with Jamey.

 

 

In true teen rom-com fashion, there is a quick redemption arc: Veronica ends up forgiving Sierra and so does Jamey, admitting that she’s the one that he wants. I understand that the point of the movie is that there’s more to someone than the physical, but it also completely ignores the fact that she catfishes this guy for the entirety of the movie, pretends to be deaf, is really mean to the girl who helps her... but still ends up with him in the end. I thought relationships were supposed to be based on trust? 

 

 

Despite the above critiques, I really enjoyed the wholesome development of Sierra and Veronica’s friendship, and Sierra’s ambitious, witty, and joyful nature despite being characterised as a ‘loser’.  The movie is also apparently a modern retelling of the play Cyrano de Bergerac, but apparently so is The Ugly Truth (2009) starring Kathrine Heigl and Gerard Butler, Disney’s Let it Shine (2012) and an episode of Bob’s Burgers titled Sleeping with the Frenemy.

 

Sierra Burgess is a Loser is available to stream on Netflix.