Movie Review: Sierra Burgess is a Loser


Becky Perelman

“Sierra Burgess is a Loser” premiered Aug. 30, 2018 on Netflix. It follows the lives of three high school students, Sierra, Jamey, and Veronica, and their twisted romance.

Becky Perelman, Sports Managing Editor

Claire Standish and John Bender, Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson, Samantha Baker and Jake Ryan, and now Sierra Burgess and Jamey. Every romantic high school movie has those two characters that you root for to fall in love. From the very beginning, you know that they will end up together and it is only a matter of time before that happens. “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” is no exception to that. The film takes us back to a high school where the students are jocks, cheerleaders and nerds, pretty much like they are in any John Hughes movie.

The Netflix original film follows Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser), a smart, underdog female lead, and the popular quarterback named Jamey (Nick Centineo). The couple is the perfect equation for the viewer to root for. However, although the movie is enjoyable and at first glance just another rom-com, it has many issues.

The plot of the film is as such: Sierra receives a wrong number text from the quarterback, who thinks she is the popular Veronica (Kristine Forseth), a cheerleader with 20,000 Instagram followers. Sierra does not correct Jamey and begins a romance with him via text. Sierra even recruits Veronica to help her in this scheme.

Perhaps Sierra feels that otherwise she and Jamey would have never ended up together as she does not fit the stereotype of the pretty and perfect girl. However, this contrasts with the Sierra that we see in every other aspect of her life; Sierra does not find fault in her physical appearance throughout the movie, even calling herself a “magnificent beast” and talking back when Veronica tries to bully her at the start of the film.

Although Jamey is falling for her text messages, he is unable to form an actual opinion on Sierra as he does not know that he is talking to her. Sierra is untruthful, but because Sierra is the underdog, the viewer forgives her behavior that would never be accepted from the cheerleader or the jock.

Jamey and Sierra talk for some time before he calls her Veronica, and she finds out who he thinks she is. So, because they had good meaningful conversations together, he may have still wanted to get to know her had she told him who she was from the start.

Warning: spoilers lie ahead.

When this all blows up and Jamey finds out that Sierra is not who she is supposed to be, instead of taking a stand and apologizing about everything, Sierra retreats to her bedroom and wallows in self-pity. At least she wrote a pretty incredible song during her wallowing!

Still, the movie is pretty disturbing. Both Sierra and Veronica treat Jamey horribly by lying to him and not giving him the benefit of the doubt. One of the most disturbing scenes in the movie is Sierra and Jamey’s first kiss: Veronica and Jamey go on a date, because Jamey thinks he is dating Veronica, and when Jamey leans in for a kiss, Veronica covers his eyes and has Sierra take her place. Although this scene is supposed to be viewed as cute, it is scary how neither of the girls thinks about Jamey’s feelings.

This all is not to take away from the great acting in the film and high quality directing. Centineo is a personal favorite and Purser has really been able to find her place in Hollywood. From portraying Barb on “Stranger Things” and Ethel Muggs on “Riverdale”, “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” cements her footing as a young, up-and-coming actress.

Though this movie is not perfect (but what movie is?), it hits on important topics such as how people view themselves and how that image can get in their way. It only begs the question: What would the movie have been like if Sierra told Jamey who she was from the start?