It’s no secret that social media was pretty hyped to finally see a fat girl play the main character in a teen romance film.
The expectation was strong and excited fans were really rooting for a film with a positive message. Especially after they were disappointed with the release of Insatiable’s trailer which ‘supports the notion that fat is ugly.’ Sierra Burgess Is A Loser seemed promising enough to take a different approach. Rarely do we ever see a diverse casting, let alone making the main character far from what society deems as ‘beautiful.’
As if it couldn’t get any better, the cast of SBIAL is star-studded! From Shannon Purser who became the fan-favorite as Barb from Stranger Things to Noah Centineo who played Peter Kavinsky in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
The massive success of modern romcoms, such as Set It Up, The Kissing Booth, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before gave fans hope that we might get another cute love story. But after the much-anticipated movie premiered last week, the fans were left underwhelmed, disappointed, and some even angry.
There were a lot of questionable jokes and actions in the movie that were not addressed properly.
We knew what we were signing up for when the plot of the movie was about catfishing, but what we didn’t expect was the numerous jabs against trans and lesbians, Sierra’s move to play deaf, and the non-consensual kiss.
The thing is, none of those jokes and actions were necessary for the film to be funny or cute. Instead, it made the writers seem transphobic, insensitive and downright creepy.
Were we supposed to feel sorry for Sierra because she felt ugly?
Sure, every character has a flaw and insecurity makes people do horrible things. But overweight people already feel insignificant, misrepresented, and ugly because of society’s standards. Did we really need a movie that demonizes them more?
Shannon Purser responded to the criticism in her interview with ELLE .com, saying, “I understand it, for sure. I think that if I were looking at it through the lens of a romantic comedy that I would be more upset…” she continued, “would I personally forgive someone who did that to me? I don’t know. But it is a story, and what I want people to take from it is that there can be redemption and that your circumstances and the limitations placed on you by society don’t have to define you.”
So does that mean writing a song was her way of feeling redemption? Enough to actually get the boy she catfished in the end? Perhaps it’s teen fiction for a reason, then.
But enough about Sierra. Let’s talk about Veronica; the most redeemable character from Sierra Burgess Is A Loser.
Veronica initially started as the stereotypical cheerleader. Drop dead gorgeous, mean, and popular. The best thing SBIAL has done for characters like Veronica and Jamey was that they strayed away from the “cheerleader” and “jock” archetype.
Though Veronica only wanted to impress a college boy, she expressed interest in actually learning Philosophy to seem smarter. Eventually, we learn that her family situation wasn’t that great and her shallow persona was because of her mom being in denial of her husband abandoning their family for a younger woman.
Throughout the film, we see Veronica transform into a good friend to Sierra despite her friends’ disapproval. And even when Sierra broke her trust and humiliated her in front of the whole school, she managed to forgive her and still help her get the boy in the end.
We’ll give a little credit to Jamey too. Because he wasn’t some vain airhead just because he played varsity football. He was actually full of substance and he didn’t care that his friends weren’t ‘cool enough.’
Dan was also a good friend to Sierra. From the very beginning, Dan was the best friend who actually cared for her. He doesn’t sugarcoat his words and he tells her when he thinks she’s doing the wrong thing. And even when Sierra was too preoccupied tutoring Veronica and catfishing Jamey, he was still there for her in the end.
Sierra was lucky to have her parents too. Her mom and dad were her biggest support system. Every day, they reminded Sierra of her talent and importance.
It all boils down to Sierra being her own worst enemy
Growing up, feeling like you aren’t enough could make any person feel insignificant. When society judges you for being big and different, it pressures you into conforming to their standards. Any human being who feels hurt would understand that Sierra was only being human. She was fed up and heartbroken.
As disappointing as it is that we didn’t end up rooting for the main character, the story execution should have been better. Making jokes about disenfranchised and marginalized groups of people is a form of lazy writing. And lastly, Sierra Burgess is a loser not because of her looks, but because of how she handled the situation.