Lifestyle & Culture

Battle of the Netflix Rom-Coms: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” versus “Sierra Burgess is a Loser”

With the release of Netflix’s iconic “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Sierra Burgess is a Loser”, Claire Ince answers the age-old question: which movie’s Noah Centineo is better?

Netflix have absolutely smashed it with their rom-coms this year, and in doing so, have fuelled my procrastination habit for the entire semester thus far.

So I thought, “what better way to get a kickstart on my next round of assessments, than to completely avoid doing them and critically evaluate their two latest film releases?”.

Thus, I give you a very scientific and not at all biased:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (TATBILB) versus Sierra Burgess is a Loser (SBIAL).

P.s. Don’t worry fam, Yak Media is strictly spoiler free 😉

The Plot

As much as I love scouring UON Love Letters simply to entertain myself (*cough*), there is nothing better than receiving a handwritten note from your crush (I mean, I don’t really know for sure, but I IMAGINE there’s nothing better).

Likewise, I imagine being catfished feels pretty horrendous and I can’t say I ever want to experience it, but I can totally get on board with some good self-discovery.

Neither of the films followed a particularly ‘normal’ plot, and that’s something that I feel that many people will argue to be a negative. But in both cases, I found that the whacky plot lines only highlighted the beauty of the message that each film conveyed.

In the case of TATBILB, I was constantly reminded that sitting back and not unveiling my feelings to the (non-existent) Peter Kavinsky in my life will not get me anywhere, and that if (when he finally shows up) I don’t, I will never have the closure I need, or a chance at finding love.

SBIAL also managed to give me my daily ego check by reminding me that I am, in fact, a loser, and that I shouldn’t be ashamed of it (also, honestly is the best policy).

Even though the plot of SBIAL was significantly more far-fetched, I somehow feel as though it was considerably more ‘possible’ than TATBILB. For that reason alone, SBIAL just progressed with a considerably more natural rhythm than TATBILB for me, but there wasn’t much in it.


Both films earn another major thumbs up for me as far as representation goes.

Firstly, the way in which Lara Jean’s Korean background was portrayed was phenomenal, and once again, the balance was perfect in my eyes. We got to see tidbits of her culture peeking through when it came to food and interests, but brilliantly, she was just a girl named Lara Jean, rather than a KOREAN girl named Lara Jean.

I also thought the character of Lucas was a great step in the right direction for LGBTQ+ representation, as similarly, being gay was a part of the Lara Jean/Lucas subplot, but it in no way became Lucas’ defining feature for the film’s entirety.

That doesn’t discount the representation in SBIAL either. It’s hard to say which is better than the other because while TATLIB is a great example of Korean-American representation in film, SBIAL has equally important body-positive representation.

The film portrays insecurity and low self-esteem in a way that is incredibly relatable, without being completely stereotypical or annoying (*cough* Insatiable *cough*).

First of all, I absolutely love the fact that insecurity wasn’t just a ‘girl thing’ in this story, as we got to see Jamey go through a lot of self-doubt in a similar way to Sierra. It was real, and that’s more than I could’ve asked for.

However, Twitter has understandably been in uproar over the film’s release, with many users calling it highly problematic. This is largely due to completely discounting the legal ramifications of catfishing, as well a highly transphobic remark made by a minor character.

I won’t go as far as completely discrediting the film as a whole because of this, as I do think the general representation is highly effective and should be applauded. However, I do advise viewer discretion and/or thorough parental guidance.

The Heroine

As a character, I found Lara Jean to be extremely relatable.

Despite the plot being the furthest thing from relatable for me, I found it really easy and smooth to follow, simply because Lara Jean was such a natural, life-like character.

Lana Condor’s performance was so majestic that I often found myself forgetting that this story was fictional and that she was portraying somebody other than herself. Thanks to her natural and hilarious portrayal, I was able to fully immerse myself in the film, and forget that I was supposed to be critiquing it.

Likewise, Shannon Purser brought Sierra Burgess to life. Her performance was completely undetectable, and not once did I catch myself critiquing her; so much so that I am prepared to say that she is one of the greatest actresses of our generation.

But unfortunately, I didn’t actually find Sierra to be as relatable as I would’ve hoped from a film that’s supposed to be relatable.

Despite relating to her circumstance, I found myself getting quite annoyed at many of the decisions she made throughout the film, and that forced me to slightly dislike her at times.

The Love Interest (Aka, what you’ve all been waiting for)

I don’t mean to be dramatic or anything, but I think the teenage heart within me has actually fallen in proper love with Peter Kavinsky.

Peter is the perfect representation of everything my perpetually single high school self was looking for in a man (and low key still is). He’s brooding, cheeky and uber charming, but completely down to earth and sensitive at the same time. Also, arms.

When it comes to any kind of fictional love story, the most important thing for me is that there is a good balance between the main character and the love interest. I don’t want the love interest to completely take over the story and overshadow the main character, but I also don’t want them to be an ‘accessory’ to the main character and not have a personality of their own.

The balance in TATBILB is on point, and that’s exactly why I love it so much.

Both Lara Jean and Peter progress at a natural rate throughout the film as they learn from each other, but they aren’t so dependent on each other that the story becomes inaccessible and cliche in an annoying way.

Then I met Jamey.

In my opinion, Jamey and Peter aren’t all that different. They’re both athletes, both goofily charming, and both have insecurities. The real difference is that Jamey is much shyer and more awkward, and to me, that makes him that much more ‘real’ (*cough* and attractive *cough*).

Thanks to the whole catfishing plot, the love story wasn’t really as accessible in this film for me. But in no way is this a bad thing; the story was just more about the journey of finding love internally rather than externally, and that’s something that TATBILB was definitely missing.

Noah Centineo has won my heart through both of these characters in a big way, but Peter has JUST managed to take the top spot, purely for managing to rehydrate my shriveled heart.

So, which is better?

To put it bluntly, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was always going to win in my book. If I watch the same film 4 times in 24 hours, it’s safe to say that it’s pretty unbeatable.

In saying that, this vote is not unlike the tomato vs barbeque sauce debacle; they’re both undeniably equally brilliant options, and even though nobody will question another’s love for the other condiment, we all still have our preference (aka, please don’t roast me in the comments).

Either way, I highly recommend you indulge in both films and see for yourself (once you’ve finished your assignments, of course).

Feature Image: Claire Ince


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