Netflix favorite Shannon Purser is back as a leading lady in Sierra Burgess is a Loser, the streaming service’s latest rom-com after a summer full of hits. With Purser as the titular character, the film follows the teenage writing prodigy as she tries to survive her final year of high school while being an outcast. She’s got wicked wit, a great best friend and parents that love and support her. But, like many of us at that age, her body image and fear of being rejected create limitations. So when the cute jock Jamey, played by Twitter’s latest boyfriend, Noah Centineo, pursues her via text message under false pretenses, Sierra takes it as opportunity to let a boy get to know her without the risk. It may play as predictably as most rom-coms, but the cast still charms.
There’s no way around it: the catfishing plot is cringe-worthy. If she goes as slapping her hands in front of Jamey’s eyes while he believes he’s kissing Veronica, then I think we can all agree Sierra’s actions are hella creepy. Yet it’s still easy to root for our titular loser, though not for her to get the guy. Sure, everyone loves a great romantic triumph to end a rom-com but the true triumph is Sierra accepting that she is beautiful and worthy of love. Compared to Centineo’s romantic storyline in the previous Netflix film To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, the love story takes a backseat to Sierra’s personal journey and Purser is responsible for pulling it off. If Purser didn’t cement her way into our hearts as Barb, she surely does as Sierra, and makes this flawed film a delightful watch.
Purser is the film’s shining star but she also has a solid supporting cast. RJ Cyler gives a good comedic performance and acts as a nice partner for Purser as Dan, Sierra’s sometimes neglected best friend. Netflix’s latest star, Centineo charms again in a more dorky, equally adorable performance playing Jamey. Centineo fans will, of course, enjoy his wooing “whoa-whoa-whoas” but the most important love story in Netflix’s latest project is between Sierra and Veronica, played by Kristine Froseth. While Sierra may have been an outcast at school, at least she has a caring, supportive friend like Dan in her corner, unlike her supposed foe. To see these two girls break down their tightly guarded walls together to find a common bond is really the heart of the film. From being enemies to dear friends, their growth together proves that we, in a way, fall in love with our best of friends.
With such close release dates and a common leading man, comparison to To All the Boy I’ve Loved Before should be expected. Strictly based on the romantic storyline, this film doesn’t quite live up to the rom-com love-fest audiences may have been hoping for. Though, like its predecessor, the service’s latest romantic comedy effectively offers important stories with teenage girls in mind. The young woman’s personal journey is still the film’s heart and soul – the missing piece Netflix may have rediscovered in the genre.