A stellar cast featuring Shannon Purser, who stars in “Riverdale” and “Stranger Things,” as the main character Sierra Burgess and Noah Centineo who recently became the new teen heartthrob gaining nine million Instagram followers in a month after his role in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” This star power surely guaranteed that this new rom-com was on everyone’s to watch list, but unfortunately fell short of these high expectations.
“Sierra Burgess is a Loser” tells a tale about a girl, Sierra (Purser) who is catfishing another school’s quarterback Jamey (Centineo) by using the identity of her school’s popular mean cheerleader Veronica (Kristine Froseth) who soon after helps Sierra in catfishing.
First and foremost, catfishing is a person who pretends to be someone else by using their picture and/or identity to get someone else’s attention. In the film, Sierra realizes Jamey thinks she is someone else and continues to pursue him. When he begins to want to talk more and build a relationship with her, Sierra recruits Veronica the cheerleader to continue on with the scam which leads to Jamey going on a fake date with Veronica.
Amongst the drama in the movie the characters hit some other problems such as when Sierra meets Jamey and his younger brother and she pretends to be deaf only to find out that the young brother is truly deaf. Another problematic moment in the film was when Sierra thought that Veronica betrayed her when she find her with Jamey and then proceeds to post some embarrassing photos on her social media humiliating her in front of the whole school. Sierra starts slowly becoming more and more unlikable, it comes to the point where you hope that she learns a lesson instead of getting the happy ending the audience sees coming.
Despite the high negativity this film is receiving, some still find it to have some redeemable qualities.
“I mean I did expect a little bit more out of it but it was nice. And that even though catfishing isn’t the right thing to do it did allow him to realize that a person doesn’t have to look a certain way to be beautiful,” FC student Veronica Garcia Carlos said.
As expected, Jamey the quarterback takes Sierra to the dance and ends up with her but it is in spite of her outward appearance and because of her great personality. The unfortunate thing is the audience is not able to see any real solid character development, instead we see a lack of depth in the characters. Cal State Fullerton student Vanessa Pelayo said, “We don’t get to see much of Sierra’s great personality we know she is smart and supposedly funny but we don’t get the chance to see that for ourselves.”
As per usual in these classic teen rom-com fashion the loser girl gets the popular guy and normally this ending would be loved and applauded but this is not the case. After Sierra catfished her way to Jamey and humiliates her friend, she fails to learn anything from the problems of deception. She writes a beautiful song that discusses how she feels about herself feeling that she isn’t beautiful. She does not apologize and is still forgiven, the song is not an apology and despite sympathizing with the character for a moment, it does not excuse her to be manipulative and deceitful.
The story of “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” includes many problematic moments specifically how the overall film portrays catfishing. Catfishing is romanticized in this film and in the end is shown to have a positive outcome, one that is unrealistic and should not be normalized.