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Netflix’s Sierra Burgess is a Loser falls flat with an uninspired plot

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Arriving on the heels of The Peter Kavinsky Phenomenon, Netflix has released yet another teenage rom-com, titled Sierra Burgess is a Loser. Starring Noah Centineo (of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before fameas a less self-assured, charismatic male lead, Netflix’s latest original movie chronicles the trials and tribulations of Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser).

Sierra has long since been the target of all the popular girls’ malicious musings at her high school, but when beautiful football player Jamey (Noah Centineo) begins a flirty text-relationship with Sierra- mistaking her number to be that of the queen mean girl, Veronica (Kristine Froseth)- Sierra believes her luck has taken a turn for the better. Thus, Sierra allows the mistaken identity debacle to carry out, relishing in her seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strike up a relationship with a guy like Jamey.

Simply put, this rom-com is cheesy. In the era of The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this is not a surprising revelation. In fact, this is to be expected. But, there’s a reason “cheesy” worked for the aforementioned Netflix rom-coms– and I just don’t think Sierra Burgess is a Loser shares that.

Where The Kissing Booth is light and cute and fun, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is quirky and sweet and romantic, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is creepy and cringey and colorless. The central plot is essentially a catfish story, repackaged to be charming and endearing; but that attempt fell flat, in my opinion.

While many on the Internet have denounced the normalization of the catfish trope, I disliked it simply because it failed to impress or allure me in the way that most corny rom-com plots can. I am usually very easy to win over when it comes to on-screen romance, but I think the Jamey-Sierra duo didn’t do it for me because they were so disconnected- courtesy of the predominantly technological relationship- and because the relationship was technically a Jamey-Veronica pairing– courtesy of the flawed catfish plot device.

Moreover, I found Sierra to not be a very likable protagonist, which made it hard for me to sympathize with her and truly immerse myself in the storyline. Though I appreciate the representation of a non-size zero, intelligent female character, Sierra was annoying to me, perhaps because of the way she enabled the mistaken identity narrative– yet another downfall of the uninspired catfish story.

As much as I disliked Sierra as a character, I must commend the performance of the actress. I think she perfectly portrayed the person Sierra was intended to be: an outcast who is (mostly) content with the person she is. And, of course, Centineo did right by Netflix once again, easily shedding his larger-than-life, Peter Kavinsky persona to give an authentic performance of the sweet, reserved Jamey.

Additionally, a hidden gem of this film is RJ Cyler and his role as Sierra’s best friend, Dan. Despite the movie being classified as a rom-com, the only true comedy comes from Dan, who is a sassy and witty foil to Sierra. He is seemingly the only voice of reason and common sense in the Sierra Burgess universe.

Overall, despite some admittedly meritable acting, Sierra Burgess is a Loser was a solid disappointment. It was not a grossly abhorrent movie, but I expected better from a movie that had so much potential, especially considering it was coming from Netflix. In a world where we’re finally seeing the revival of quality rom-coms, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is an undeniable shame.

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Netflix’s Sierra Burgess is a Loser falls flat with an uninspired plot