It’s a showy way of illustrating what happened, but as is so often true with such endeavors, too cute for its own good, blurring the lines between scripted drama and reality. Make a movie or make a documentary, but ultimately, make up your mind and pick a lane.
The feature-length film does provide greater insight into how the scheme worked, and the extent to which these wealthy parents lived out their own hopes and dreams through their kids. “The parents are applying to college, and the kid is the vehicle through which they apply to college,” says college admissions counselor Perry Kalmus.
Indeed, perhaps the most effective video woven into the documentary features kids exulting or deflating when they receive college notifications — one states feeling “broken” by a rejection — underscoring both the pressure they face and the youths deprived those triumphant moments because of admissions extended to peers whose parents used Singer’s “side door” to buy their way in.
Akil Bello, a test prep expert, finally gets to the heart of the matter — and perhaps why so many had such a visceral reaction to this story — asking, “Why did these parents choose to cheat when their children had so much already?”
It’s a good question, as is the one about why “Operation Varsity Blues” felt compelled to dramatize a documentary that didn’t need any of that embellishment.
“Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” premieres March 17 on Netflix.