Netflix’s latest teen rom-com Sierra Burgess is a Loser is a well meaning movie about inner beauty and self acceptance that seems to miss its own point. I’d say spoilers ahead, but this is a rom-com so you already know what’s going to happen.
Sierra (Shannon Purser) checks all the boxes of Unpopular Girl: She’s bookish, a band geek and fat. Despite being a a few extracurriculars away from a spot at Stanford, she struggles with living in her famous novelist father’s (Alan Ruck) shadow. One night the school jock, Jamie (Noah Centineo) accidentally texts her, mistaking her for bitchy cheerleader Veronica (Kristine Froseth). Naturally Sierra’s in love but doesn’t want to reveal her identity. In exchange for tutoring, she bribes Veronica to pose as her on dates with Jamie.
I’ll give this movie points for not just throwing glasses on a hot girl and calling her a “nerd.” Purser is lovely and naturally likeable onscreen. Too bad you end up hating her for some unspeakable acts. There’s a scene where Veronica is on a date with Jamie and when he goes in to kiss her with his eyes closed, the girls switch so it’s actually Sierra. The movie builds this up to be an “Aww” moment when it’s just gross. In a post #MeToo era, it’s problematic, to say the least. In another scene, Sierra publicly slut shames Veronica AND SUFFERS NO CONSEQUENCES FOR IT.
Sierra is pretty out of control by the end of the movie, but for some reason everyone is apologizing for/to her? It’s like the movie is disproving its own argument that real beauty is in your character. Instead we learn that no matter what heinous crimes you commit, you’ll still keep your friends and get the guy. Sadly, it’s a pretty accurate representation of how our culture views repercussions for revenge porn and violating a person’s consent.
It’s disappointing because I think there should be more movies revolving around more diverse characters. Unfortunately it only succeeds in proving that Sierra Burgess isn’t just a loser, she’s a jerk too.
You’d be better off watching To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a much better Netflix rom-com with Centineo, who has much better chemistry with his co-star Lana Condor.
Header image credit: Netflix