Netflix Releases Another Cheesy Rom-Com: “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser”
By Yanpeng Wang
Netflix has been on a roll lately, producing three teen rom-coms just this past year: “The Kissing Booth,” “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” and “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.”
“Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” is the latest Netflix Original release. The film’s main character, Sierra Burgess, is played by Shannon Purser, whom many may recognize from the Netflix series, “Stranger Things.” Starring alongside Purser as Sierra’s love interest is Noah Centineo, known for his role in Netflix’s summer hit, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”
The film takes a twist on the typical, unpopular-girl-meets-jock romance story. Sierra goes through high school tormented by mean girls, specifically Veronica. One day, Veronica is approached by Jamey, the quarterback from a different school. In an attempt to dodge Jamey’s advances and tease Sierra, Veronica gives Sierra’s number to Jamey instead of her own. When Jamey texts Sierra that day, she realizes that the message is not meant for her. Sierra replies anyways, and through conversations on the phone, a connection between Jamey and Sierra forms. While Sierra is fully aware that she is deluding Jamey (catfishing as Sierra’s best friend Dan calls it), Jamey is entirely clueless that he isn’t speaking to Veronica. When Jamey asks to meet in person, Sierra’s fear of rejection prompts her to convince Veronica to help her with the scheme.
Although the plot of the film is about the evolution of Sierra’s lie, the ruse is taken way too far. The film seems to romanticize lying and condone dissent, making it difficult to support Jamey and Sierra’s relationship. Perhaps the only thing that is worth watching is the relationship between Sierra and Veronica. Their unexpected friendship shows that people’s personalities are more than what meets the eye.
The theme of body positivity and the persistent self-image struggles of high school girls is a key focus throughout the film. Sierra’s strong persona at the beginning of the film diminishes as her infatuation towards Jamey grows and her insecurities begin to take over her thoughts and actions. It is not until the end of the film that Sierra remembers she is a “magnificent beast,” which is something she affectionately called herself in the opening scene of the film. While her realization is both heartwarming and rewarding for the audience, her unacceptable actions throughout the film leave viewers feeling conflicted. Regardless, the film leaves the audience with an important message: any fulfilling relationship starts with accepting and loving yourself.
Sierra had so much potential to be a strong character and a role model for girls (if anything, she teaches you what NOT to do), but her character falls far short of that. Sierra uses her insecurities to justify her actions, weakening her character and losing the respect of the audience.
Although the film’s attempt to convey an important message was poorly executed, hopefully, the audience can still learn something about loving oneself.
Director: Ian Samuels
Written by: Lindsey Beer
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Starring: Shannon Purser, Noah Centineo, Kristine Froseth, RJ Cyler
Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes