Review: Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal

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A tale of privilege used to elevate children into elite colleges and universities, Operation Varsity Blues is a unique documentary that blends cinematic recreations with first-hand interviews to dive deep into the escalating scheme started decades ago.

The 2019 announcement by federal prosecutors shook much of academia when they shared that they had charged 50 individuals with fraudulently manipulating the system and gaining admission for their under-qualified children. Actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were just two of the high-profile names involved in a scheme devised by independent college counselor Rick Singer. The details are salacious and troubling, exposing well-documented issues at many of the elite institutions within the United States. However, the way they are presented here through dramatization, which utilizes actual dialogue obtained through phone taps, cheapens the ultimate product and makes it comparable to a low budget crime show. One could even argue that this looks like a Lifetime film.

It is hard to argue with the facts presented, however, as the interviews included offer context not only to the specific case, but the admissions process in general. What results is an all-encompassing look at an intricate web of lies and deceit that permeates higher education and upper class circles, most of which was only glossed over when the story first broke. Operation Varsity Blues makes the case for the need for massive reforms in our admissions process, as well as the pressures we put on high schoolers to attend a “prestigious” school.

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is now available to stream on Netflix.

Rating: 4/5

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