Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal review – the elite university salesman Audacious, outrageous and goddamn sensational.

March 15, 2021
Daniel Hart 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
4.5

Summary

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is easily platforming itself as one of the great documentaries this year — it’s audacious, outrageous and goddamn sensational.

4.5

Summary

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is easily platforming itself as one of the great documentaries this year — it’s audacious, outrageous and goddamn sensational.

Netflix documentary film Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal will be released on the streaming service on March 17, 2021. 

As a brit, I’ve never truly understood the fascination of “prestige” universities in the USA — Gilmore Girls gave me some idea; heck, Rory’s grandparents were adamant that she must go to an Ivy League environment and what came was incredible pressure for the character. The UK’s equivalent is Oxford University, but through the murmurs of high school, going to that University was not a fantasy; our fantasy was ensuring we were ready for the first week of University, prepped for freshers week, and understanding how many vodka red bulls can be bought with a £10 budget. It’s just not the same.

This is why Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is compelling; the story follows Rick Singer, a self-proclaimed “college recruiter” that helped wealthy families put their children into the “prestige” universities using the “side door”, rather than the “back door”. There’s a massive difference; while the “back door” accepts donations, and a significant contribution can help your child secure a place, the “side door” is by process of fake exam results, bribes, and fake spots into athletic programs. Rick Singer created a smokescreen charity organization where this conspiracy took place.

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal highlights the imbalance in society and the incredulous nature of super-wealthy families — the Netflix documentary sternly makes a point that available places at these institutions have a low acceptance rate; millions of students genuinely apply, putting their all into added classes and extra-curricular activities, who are extremely likely to be devastated when they open their decision letter. A student from a wealthy family is likely to have taken their place — circumstance trumps effort.

And if we look at the wealthy parents under a magnifying glass, to really tease out their motive, Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal exposes a strange insecurity that runs in these families. Ironically, there are over 3,000 universities in America; most of these establishments can provide a high quality of education — the prestige universities act as a statement, a social ranking that provides this false sense of security that your status is higher if you attend the organization. The documentary suggests that wealthy families lose all sense of rationality; getting your child into Harvard is the same as buying the latest Tesla. There’s a tragic correlation.

The documentary deep dives into Rick Singer and presents him as a simple man, but at the same time, an incredible salesman. Using FBI transcripts, the feature reenacts phone call conversations; his tone and language are easy on the ears, persuading parents to illegally buy into a conspiracy — it’s jaw-dropping how he navigated concerns and made the most illegal activity sound normal. In 90-minutes, audiences will witness a man feeding into a parent’s desperation to live vicariously through their children.

Let’s make no mistake, this is a spectacular story, and Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal opens up the void between wealthy and less fortunate families in America; the media coverage and the outrage that followed once the FBI submitted the charges is nothing short of extraordinary; the Netflix documentary manages to elevate this notable event and the impact it had on “prestige” universities moving forward. But there is some irony behind all this; this scandal enhances the social media phenomena that graces these universities — it’s likely to make a plucky student want to attend these universities even more, in a world where higher education is becoming less effective in career outcomes.

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is easily platforming itself as one of the great documentaries this year — it’s audacious, outrageous, and goddamn sensational.

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