This Netflix original deep dives into the college admissions scandal that seized the 2019 news headlines. Directed by Chris Smith and screenplay by Jon Karmen, new light is shed on the world’s largest college scandal that occurred roughly two years ago. With the major college decisions and pressures upon high schoolers across the nation occurring, the scandal still seems significantly relevant today. “Operation Varsity Blues: The Colleges Admissions Scandal” helps viewers to understand how Rick Singer, portrayed by Matthew Modine, managed to get students into prestigious schools for a number of years. It also reveals how the scheme eventually eroded.
The style of the documentary consists of information and cutaways of a classic documentary, yet includes a narrative style. In cooperation with an interview of attorneys, college counselors and people involved in the scandal, Rick Singer, played by Modine, shows how Singer’s “side door” into colleges worked in real life. Plus, the dialogue used is taken directly from wiretaps.
The documentary follows how Singer rebranded himself from a basketball coach to a “college counselor” for the wealthy. According to the documentary, parents collectively paid Singer approximately $25 million between 2011 and 2018.
The documentary follows how Singer rebranded himself from a basketball coach to a “college counselor” for the wealthy. According to the documentary, parents collectively paid Singer approximately $25 million between 2011 and 2018. He guaranteed admission to high ranking schools by using what he called a “side door” method which include strategies such as: cheating on standardized tests, portraying students as top tier athletes in sports they never played, and deliberately misidentifying white applicants as Black or Latino. The phone conversations Singer had with parents clearly reveals Singer’s force of getting powerful people to do what he wants.
The documentary is not afraid to expose the names of all those involved, especially since that is what people want to know. However, names that significantly stood out included: influencer Olivia Giannulli (known as Olivia Jade), her parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, and actress Felicity Huffman. These families received major media coverage when the scandal broke out as a result of their status. The documentary makes sure to establish the juxtaposition between a rejected USC student and Olivia’s carelessness for her education.
Not only does this documentary look deeper into the scandal, but the corrupt and unfair college admissions system. This documentary is entertaining from beginning to end as Singer’s ultimate scheme begins to unravel. Informative as it is enjoyable, “Operation Varsity Blues” is a great watch.
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