Netflix has been killing the rom-com game recently. As a sucker for a typical corny romantic movie with a predictable ending, I absolutely adored To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Set It Up and The Kissing Booth. I ranted and raved about To All The Boys to practically everyone I know. It made me feel happy, sad, laugh, cry and feel all those things in my stomach that I felt whenever I had a crush in high school. Amazing. But that’s a story for another article.
So obviously, I had super high expectations when I saw the trailer for Sierra Burgess Is A Loser. Starring Shannon Purser (Barb from Stranger Things) and Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky from To All The Boys), Sierra Burgess seems to be a coming-of-age story about an average looking girl. Now, I say “seems” because the trailer sets up an awfully different story from the actual movie.
Oh, and spoilers ahead.
The movie starts out great. We see Sierra (Shannon Purser) struggling with teenage life and her body image alongside her overly positive mother and obnoxiously cultured father. In the beginning, I was really rooting for Sierra.
Don’t get me wrong, it feels fantastic to have a protagonist that looks like Sierra. What Netflix is doing for diversity almost feels revolutionary. However, that’s about where my positives end.
Sierra sucks. Sierra eventually catfishes Jamey (Noah Centineo) which is already shitty in-and-of itself. It seems as though the writers of this movie wanted us to walk away with the notion that as long as you’re unconventionally attractive you can be an awful person.
The antagonist of the film is Veronica (Kristine Froseth) and it’s almost like they gave up on trying to make her an antagonist. It feels like the writers googled, “MEAN GIRL STEREOTYPE”—but that’s about as deep as they got. We eventually find out that Veronica is actually much more than a quick stereotype. In fact, I almost wanted her to end up with Jamey. Sierra and Veronica go on to become great friends and, again, we root for them.
However, then Sierra pretends to be deaf to avoid Jamey hearing her voice, lies to her best friend, goes on to expose Veronica in front of the whole school, and (for more emphasis) continually lies and manipulates Jamey.
There are plenty of movies with well-written redemption arches (i.e. Mean Girls, Friends With Benefits, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc.) It’s not hard to make us hate a character but eventually forgive them alongside the other characters. Many writers have done it. But don’t worry, Sierra wrote a song about how she feels. She expects everyone to feel sorry for her and forgive her because she doesn’t like the way she looks.
While it is a pretty catchy song, Sierra doesn’t apologize. She essentially says, “Look at me! I’m not like other girls! I’m not conventionally attractive! I deserve to be pitied!” Sierra doesn’t go to Veronica or Jamey and say “I’m sorry.” In fact, she only sends the song to Veronica. Veronica then apparently feels like she owes Sierra for Sierra’s mistake, and sends the song to Jamey. Jamey then apparently feels like he owes Sierra even though she manipulated him. The movie wraps up with all positive vibes at the homecoming dance!
All-in-all, Sierra had such a great momentum to be another To All The Boys. It had the combination of well-rounded actors and a phenomenal soundtrack, but it just falls short with how blatantly it tells its viewers how they’re supposed to feel. We’re supposed to feel bad for Sierra, we’re supposed to think Jamey is cute, and we’re supposed to think Veronica is a bitch.
Sierra Burgess may be a loser but at the end of the day, you can’t make me like a manipulative loser.
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