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Sierra Burgess is a Loser is a 2018 teen Romantic Comedy based on Cyrano de Bergerac. It was directed by Ian Samuels and stars Shannon Purser, Noah Centineo, and Kristine Froseth.
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Sierra Burgess (Purser) is an unpopular high-schooler who is struggling with self-image and college applications. When handsome, kind jock Jamey (Centineo) starts texting her, believing her to be head cheerleader Veronica, he and Sierra strike up a correspondence. Desperate to keep up their budding flirtation, Sierra strikes a deal with Veronica — if she helps Sierra continue to talk to Jamey, Sierra will tutor Veronica so she can win back her college boyfriend, Spence.

The film was released internationally on Netflix on September 7, 2018.


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Tropes:

  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: The attractive, popular Veronica is specifically the head cheerleader, and at one point Sierra enviously watches a cheerleader and jock together.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Ty communicates in ASL, and it is not subtitled.
  • Black Best Friend: Dan, who is black and serves mainly as Sierra's Only Friend who comments on her ridiculous schemes.
  • Broken Aesop: The story seems to have the Aesop of "You should judge and/or like people for their personality rather than their looks". However, Sierra is rather dishonest, manipulative, selfish and occasionally vengeful, with a tendency to use her insecurities and low self-esteem to deflect blame and make excuses for her own poor choices, as well as a willingness to use other people to get what she wants. Instead of fully acknowledging her mistakes and making amends to the people she hurt, she seems to dismiss/justify most of her actions as being a result of her own feelings of inadequacy and victimises herself rather than taking any real personal responsibility, which actually results in her being Easily Forgiven by both the crush she catfished and lied to for months and the friends she betrayed and hurt, and actually getting the guy.
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  • Calling the Old Man Out: Veronica delivers a subdued version. She brings some delicious treats to the house and when her mother scolds her and tries the "your father would roll over in his grave" on her, Veronica replies that her father isn't dead and her Mother replies back "I know, he should be" and her daughter tells her that she feels sorry she was hurt the way she was and that he was a "level ten loser" but she needs to move on and stop acting like everyone is going to screw her over.
    Veronica: We need our Mom back.
  • Children Are Cruel: Veronica's two younger sisters who insult her about her intellect and invade her privacy and call her "Moronica".
  • Cool-Kid-and-Loser Friendship: The friendship between Sierra and Veronica, an awkward bookworm and a popular cheerleader.
  • Cope by Pretending: Veronica's mother constantly makes references to her father dying. This isn't what happened—he left the family for a younger woman, and her mother simply prefers to imagine him as dead to deal with the situation.
  • The Cynic: Veronica's mother seems to operate under this trope, the former tells the latter to stop acting like people will screw her over and abandon her like Veronica's father did; she also acts very suspicious and rude to Sierra when the latter tutors Veronica.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dan, in regards to Sierra's antics and what he observes.
    Dan: (about a horror movie victim and Sierra ditching him) Oh come on, you probably deserved it. Probably ditched your best friend too.
  • Disappeared Dad: Veronica's father, who left his wife and three daughters for a younger woman, even neglecting to leave financial support for them.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Late in the film, Sierra sees Jamey kissing Veronica before the football game, which, admittedly understandably, causes her to become jealous and upset. She then proceeds to publicly reveal that Veronica was dumped by Spence over Direct Messenger, utterly humiliating her in front of the entire school and causing Jamey to think she had cheated on him. However, Jamey had genuinely believed that Veronica was the girl he’d been building a relationship with so it made sense he'd kiss her; it especially doesn't help that Veronica didn’t initiate the kiss and actually felt bad about 'betraying' Sierra. Not to mention, it was Sierra's idea in the first place to continue duping Jamey into believing she was Veronica.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Veronica and Sierra trick Jamey into kissing the latter during his date with Veronica, making him keep his eyes closed while Sierra sneaks out from under the car they're leaning against and locks lips with him. It's a major point of criticism of the film, with a large portion of the audience pointing out how poorly received and creepy this would be if the genders were reversed.
  • Dumped Via Text Message: The fact that Veronica is dumped by her college boyfriend over DM is used to shame her in front of the school. She herself is embarrassed and broken over it.
  • Flower Motifs: Sierra's song at the end "Sunflower" where she compares herself to a sunflower in a world that prefers the conventionally beautiful and feminine roses.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Veronica starts out a horrible person because her emotionally neglectful and insecure mother and her insensitive younger sisters constantly belittle her, with the former also imposing extremely high standards for her appearance.
    • Veronica informs this trope as the reason why her mother talks so much about the importance of youth, beauty, and a slim figure: Veronica's father left them all for a younger woman.
  • Informed Flaw: Veronica informs Sierra that her eyebrows are very bushy and gets them done, we are supposed to believe her despite the appearance of Shannon Purser's sleek brows.
  • Language Fluency Denial: Sierra pretends to be deaf in order to avoid speaking to Jamey at the park. It quickly backfires, as Jamey has a deaf brother and is fluent in ASL (while Sierra isn't).
    Jamey: Your name is "Shit Pizza"?
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: The bitchy head cheerleader Veronica grows into a much nicer and more down-to-earth person after she befriends Sierra and her unpleasant family life comes to light.
  • Lovable Jock: Jamey is a football quarterback who is very kind and down-to-earth.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Veronica's mom believes in this, putting her two youngest daughters in pageants and prioritizing Veronica's slim figure over her grades. Veronica reveals to Sierra that her father left her mom for a much younger woman.
  • Nice Guy: Jamey, a Lovable Jock who hangs out with people considered "losers" and adores his deaf younger brother.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: In a talk between Veronica and Sierra about how attractive Sierra's mom (Lea Thompson) is, Sierra makes a point of saying she was pretty in her prom pics. Sierra jokes and asks "Night of or morning after?" to which Sierra gags.
  • Playing Cyrano: Sierra plays the role of the Cyrano and flirts with Jamey, who thinks she's Veronica. She later enlists Veronica's help in keeping up the ruse.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Veronica to Sierra after the latter publicly humiliated the former. After so many petty and snarky insults, she really verbalizes something devastating.
    Veronica: Why did you do this to me?
    Sierra: You kissed him. I saw you kiss him.
    Veronica: Well, he thinks I'm you remember? That was the whole plan. You whine about your looks but you've no idea what it's like to be me. I told you things I haven't told anyone. You think I'm mean? You should check the mirror, because your looks are the least ugly thing about you.
  • Token Minority: Dan (black) and Mackenzie (Asian), who are Sierra's and Veronica's friends respectively.
  • Weight Woe:
    • Heavy-Hipped Sierra is insecure about her body and negatively compares herself to the more conventionally thin and pretty Veronica.
    • Veronica's overweight mother externalizes this woe out on her daughter.
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