Netflix misses the mark with new teen movie


Film poster for controversial teen romantic comedy “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” Fair Use: Instagram

Realistic representations of young girls who do not meet society’s standard of beauty on the big screen have been few and far between. When the Netflix original film Sierra Burgess is a Loser was released, legions of teenage girls hoped to find a truthful portrayal of teen life and relationships they’d been hoping for. Despite having the opportunity to finally give the underdog the spotlight, the film falls short on healthy representation.

The movie is about high schooler Sierra Burgess, caught up in the whirlwind of senior year, juggling classes and friendships while simultaneously trying to discover what makes her unique.

The “mean girl” Veronica deems Sierra a “loser”. After a boy named Jamey asks for Veronica’s number, she gives him Sierra’s instead as a cruel joke. Sierra begins receiving texts from Jamey and pretends to be Veronica. Sierra believes once Jamey sees how she really looks, he won’t want to talk to her. Jamey gets to know Sierra, all the while believing he is talking to Veronica.

Junior Mia Lollo opened up about the depiction of the character Sierra Burgess, whom she’d hoped to be rooting for during the film.

“The movie would have been better if Sierra wasn’t selfish and afraid,” Lollo said. “She made decisions that ultimately made me lose respect for her.”

Instead of Sierra coming clean to Jamey about her actual identity, she deceives him, using Veronica to help her trick him.

“I believe [the movie] will negatively impact the way people view healthy relationships,” said Lollo. “The relationship Sierra and Jamey had is certainly not one I’d consider healthy.”

One point in the film that raised red flags was when Veronica was on a date with Jamey, pretending to have Sierra’s personality to keep the charade going. Veronica had Jamey close his eyes when he went to kiss her and had Sierra, who was hiding nearby, kiss him instead. This incident raises concerns about Jamey’s consent of the kiss, and illustrates him as a toy in Sierra’s game.

“Sierra’s character was extremely selfish with the way she treated others, including her friends and Jamey,” said Lollo.

Although the movie encourages self-acceptance and finding inner strength, the more problematic elements outshine these factors, leaving the film doing more harm than good.

“Sierra Burgess is a Loser is a step forward with representation, but definitely two steps back regarding a good role model for young girls,” Lollo said. “It teaches girls that hurting your friends and making destructive decisions is acceptable as long as you win in the end, which is not true in the slightest.”