What Makes Netflix's 'Sierra Burgess Is a Loser' Different From Other Cyrano de Bergerac Retellings

Netflix released Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Friday. If you think it's just another modern take on Cyrano de Bergerac or another teen romantic comedy movie, you're wrong.

Shannon Purser (Stranger Things, Riverdale) stars as Sierra Burgess, who is seen as a loser by the popular crowd in her high school. She's trying to figure out who she is with her best friend, Dan (RJ Cyler), by her side trying to serve as the voice of reason. That would be easier for him to do if she listened to his advice, especially when it comes to Jamey (To All the Boys I've Loved Before's Noah Centineo).

Sierra is surprised when she gets a text from Jamey and while she knows he thinks she's someone else, she doesn't know that person is popular girl and cheerleader Veronica (Kristine Froseth) at first. She keeps up the charade, going so far as to enlist Veronica for any in-person interactions while Sierra continues to speak to him over text messages and phone calls.

It's a modern twist on the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac. The title character's large nose kept him from telling the woman he loved, Roxanne, how he felt. He helped another man try to win her over with the other man using Cyrano's words. It's a story that's been remade countless times before.

What makes Sierra Burgess Is a Loser different from the rest is it begins with accidental catfishing. Neither party sets out purposefully trying to hurt or trick the other into believing they're someone they're not. Jamey thinks Sierra is Veronica because the cheerleader gave him the other girl's number when he approached her. Sierra doesn't realize exactly who he thinks she is when they start talking. Veronica is the one to set everything in motion, though Sierra does perpetuate the lie.

Like in Cyrano de Bergerac, Veronica's words are Sierra's when the cheerleader and Jamey spend time together in person or during a brief video chat. However, Veronica's not trying to win him over. Instead, she's merely the mouthpiece for Sierra in person.

Jamey is different, too. While Sierra sees him as out of her league (and Veronica as not exactly in hers), his interactions with Veronica and Sierra show he's not the typical jock. He's unsure of himself at times.

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser also doesn't have the typical "best friend hiding his or her feelings for the main character" trope. Dan simply acts as Sierra's conscience, telling her she should tell Jamey the truth and reminding her (and the audience) that despite how it started, what she's doing to Jamey is catfishing.

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Above, Shannon Purser (Sierra) and Kristine Froseth (Veronica) are pictured in "Sierra Burgess Is a Loser." Sierra enlists Veronica to help her talk to Jamey in person. Aaron Epstein / Netflix

There are some aspects of the movie that are common in films like it. There's more to the "mean girl" Veronica, as Sierra learns when she sees her home life and how her mother copes with her father leaving her for a 22-year-old and with no money to pay for anything. The two girls also become friends by the end.

As typically happens in these movies, Sierra changes—and not for the better. She publicly posts a screenshot of Veronica's boyfriend breaking up with her via a direct message on a social media website. However, the change doesn't happen because she's trying to fit in with a new group of friends. She sees Veronica getting close to Jamey outside of their arrangement.

The movie ends like many other romantic comedies. Sierra and Jamey get together, complete with a grand gesture moment and help from Veronica. He shows up at Sierra's house to take her to the homecoming dance and tells her Veronica played him her song.

What Makes Netflix's 'Sierra Burgess Is a Loser' Different From Other Cyrano de Bergerac Retellings | Culture