Netflix has almost single-handedly rejuvenated the romantic-comedy genre this summer.
Sure “Crazy Rich Asians” is still dominating the movie box office for a major Hollywood studio, but “Alex Strangelove,” “Set It Up,” “Ibiza,” “The Incredible Jessica James” and, most recently, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” set the foundations for the $139.5 million it has so far grossed for Warner Bros.
Netflix shows no signs of stopping with its romantic output, too, because hot off the heels of the aforementioned films comes “Sierra Burgess Is A Loser,” a modern reworking of “Cyrano De Bergerac” that revolves around the biggest loser in school (Shannon Purser) joining forces with the most popular (Kristine Froseth) so that they can win over their crushes.
I recently had the chance to talk with Purser, who insisted that Sierra Burgess as both a film and a character will give the genre another shot in the arm.
“I haven’t seen a lot of teen, romantic movies in the past decade or so. If I do they all follow very similar tropes to what I have seen before and I was just really impressed with Sierra as a character.”
“She was unique, well-rounded, complex, she didn’t fit into the typical nerd box. I just knew that it would be another challenge for me, which I loved.”
“Because Sierra doesn’t do everything right, and I think human beings aren’t likable all the time. I really like that we get to see her stumble and fall and make really bad mistakes, and go through them and find that redemption and find herself in a really unique way.”
Despite not having a “traditional high school experience,” as she was home schooled, Purser detailed to me how she used her own struggles growing up to enhance her character.
“I didn’t really have the traditional high school experience. I was home schooled. I have experienced a lot of regular school moments, but on a film set.”
“I still related to Sierra, and that time in your life when you are trying to find your place in the world and discover who you are and where you belong and wanting to fit in. I pulled a lot from my own personal experiences for the film.”
But while Purser insists that Sierra Burgess is a love-child of 80s films, especially those from John Hughes, that uses its “outrageous plot line and story” to feel “authentic and relatable and truthful,” she also believes that it has a strong and empowering message at its core for modern teenagers that live their lives through their computers and phones.
“I think that catfishing is this very dramatic and flashy plot device, but it is just symbolic for the way we interact with each other, and that temptation to hide and change ourselves in order to fit in or get someone’s approval.”
“I really hope that people that watch it feel more empowered to be honest and authentic and learn to embrace themselves for who they are.”
“Sierra Burgess Is A Loser” is released on Netflix on September 7.