Netflix has recently been on a roll with its original releases of romantic comedies, including “The Kissing Booth,” “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Sierra Burgess is a Loser.”
“Sierra Burgess” was released last Friday, and with cast members featured such as Shannon Purser (also known as “Barb” on “Stranger Things”) and Noah Centineo, who became the heartthrob of the teen generation from his role in the film “To All the Boys,” the expectations were high. Unfortunately, many of them were not met.
Although there were aspects of “Sierra Burgess” that featured some of the classic traits of romantic comedies, there were too many scenes and themes in the movie that became borderline problematic.
The movie starts off with a stereotypical scene featuring an unpopular girl watching a popular girl gang push someone over in the hallway at school, and sadly, things don’t go up from there.
For those who somehow missed the flood of “Sierra Burgess” content on social media last weekend, the premise is simple.
The movie follows Sierra Burgess, who is considered a “loser,” after her number is given out by Veronica, the school’s it-girl, to Jamey (a cute “boy next door” character played by Centineo).
Veronica gives out Burgess’s number to Jamey as a joke, and Jamey texts her thinking that he’s texting the popular girl. Instead of explaining the confusion, Burgess goes with it, pretending to be Veronica, and even goes as far as to enlist the help of Veronica to further catfish him over FaceTime.
The main theme is supposed to be “cute,” but it’s really just romanticizing the idea of catfishing and manipulating people to get what you want.
Not to mention, “Sierra Burgess” was also advertised as a film to empower teens with low self-esteem that consider themselves to be “outsiders.”
But with the catfishing plot, it enforces the stereotype that Jamey only fell in love with Burgess because he thought she was the pretty head cheerleader, and that he wouldn’t have fallen in love with Burgess herself if she hadn’t catfished him.
On top of that fact, many of the jokes in the movie are also problematic. In one scene, for example, Burgess pretends to not be able to hear, so Jamey won’t recognize her voice.
The moment is advertised as funny, as Jamey’s character ends up having a brother who cannot hear, and the irony is supposed to be humorous, but even “America’s Next Top Model” star Nyle DiMarco called out the scene for its offensive nature. On Twitter, he wrote, “PS- pretending to be deaf is NOT ok.”
So one of my close friends' deaf brother is in Sierra Burgess
When I learned, I was elated. Finally more deaf actors/representation & ASL inclusion in films
… Only to find out the deaf character was written and used for a terrible joke.
PS- pretending to be deaf is NOT ok.
— Nyle DiMarco (@NyleDiMarco) September 9, 2018
As if that weren’t enough, “Sierra Burgess” also contains a scene where Veronica and Burgess cover Jamey’s eyes so Burgess can kiss him, which, in reality, is not consensual, as he’s under the impression that he’s kissing Veronica.
Burgess is supposed to be seen as the underdog, but in reality, her actions are just problematic.
Even though Netflix might have hit the nail on the head with “To All the Boys I’ve Loved,” “Sierra Burgess” was one huge “yikes.”
For a movie with the slogan “Just Be You,” it really just enforced stereotypes that you must pretend to be someone else to get what you want and that manipulating and crossing people along the way are just rungs of the ladder to get to the top.
C’mon, Netflix, everyone was counting on you.