In 2018 Netflix has let through some.. interesting choices when it comes to films/ TV with a plus size lead, and not all of them landed - (minor spoilers)
Isatiable came out in August;
A girl who aims to get revenge on all those who wronged her when she was plus size, after she loses weight due to an accident.
Before the show was even aired, it was met with immediate backlash as the trailer seemed to give off the impression that she couldn't be seen as beautiful or valuable until she lost the weight, and understandably, people were not happy.
Obviously people did pre-judge the show just on the trailer alone as apposed to watching it for themselves, which is the whole book-cover-judgy dealio, but unfortunately a badly cut trailer can absolutely ruin your perception about what the show is actually about. I personally didn't get round to watching it as honestly, even ignoring this I was just not gripped at all at the trailer, and the main character just looked so unlikeable to me - so perhaps the show was good and I've just... not heard about it again? Maybe.
Released in September was Sierra Burgess is a loser. Which I did watch.
A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes.
Now. I was actually pretty excited for this movie as I really adore Shannon Purser (who you would recognise as Barb from Stranger Things) and although in the trailer you could see that the main plot was about catfishing, you were like "okay, that's a little weird but, it looks pretty cute!". But the film has some bizarre uncomfortable moments and things that just do not make any forgivable sense, with the only character that has actually has any brains being Seirra's best friend Dan.
Seirra "not being obsessed with her looks" and refusing to wipe dribbled toothpaste off her face, as if personal hygiene meant you were obsessive.
Using sign language/ pretending to be deaf to get out of talking to the boy she's catfishing in case he recognises her voice, when she literally could have done anything else
Betraying her friend's trust because of unexcused jealousy
A really weird date rape kiss scene that was.... very uncomfortable
The line "oh your voice doesn't sound skinny"
I feel more sympathy for Veronica (The bitchy one) nearer the end of the film than I do Sierra
What's the worst part is is she still gets the guy after she's literally been lying to him for weeks, thus all of this goes completely unpunished because she's got low self esteem.
This film is meant to be a beautiful relatable story about a plus sized unpopular girl being able to be like everyone else, and not giving a flying flip; but she's shown as this big nerd who just lies and manipulates people into doing what she wants. I just don't think that's kinda what we want out of a coming of age movie aimed at teens.
Now I'm not saying the overall movie is awful, because honestly, it's not, it was actually an enjoyable watch in places: I love Dan, I love how we watched Veronica grow and learn into being a better person, it was good character development! But this character development means that any sympathy I had with Sierra at this point falls so very flat. Characters are meant to have relatable flaws when you have to sympathise with them, but the only reason I could pick up that we're given to feel sorry for her is her appearance? Okay? If you're going to give me a sweet teen love story with a plus sized lead about learning to love yourself; which would be fantastic representation for so many people; maybe don't make them an manipulative butthead.
Now it's time to talk about the absolute masterpiece that is Dumplin', released December.
Willowdean ('Dumplin'), the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, signs up for her mom's Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.
Okay so, the other two reviews have been mostly negative. Obviously they're also subjective. But this, this I have absolutely nothing bad to say.
The plot - excellent
The characters - interesting and flawed (in a normal way)
The soundtrack - Rootin' Tootin'
The character dynamic - awesome
Did I cry - yes about 10 times thank you
I watched this film twice in one day and it honestly was one of the most feel good things I have seen in a very long time. It deals with getting over grief, self destruction and feeling a sense of worth.
So lets start with our main character Willowdean/ Dumplin' (who we will now continue to call WD so it doesn't get as wordy). She's plus size with a beauty pageant obsessed Mother and they are currently mourning the death of WD aunt/ her Mother's sister, she's deeply self conscious and is self destructive because of it.
Which is such a painfully relatable trait for me to see on screen and it is done in a very realistic way, of wanting to push people away when they've not done anything wrong, and it's coming from a place of hurt. Her love interest for the film is her colleague Bo, and I loved him as a love interest - the love interest is absolutely not the main part of this film, more of a side story; which is amazing. A lot of films that centre on gaining confidence are usually about the girl getting the balls to finally get the boy. But this is not about that. Yes sure, she does get the boy, but the main storyline here is about her doing things just for herself and no one else.
But Bo is understanding, non-argumentative towards her and he doesn't have that classic trait of overbearing love interests of yelling at them when something goes wrong, or just sorta showing up at their house if something dramatic happens. Nope! WD has a self conscious freakout when they kiss and does he stalk her and yell at her about her insecurities? Nope! He gives her some goddamn space and lets her figure it out herself! He's not trying to make her into something she's not, he literally just really likes her for exactly who she is. What a boy.
The friendship dynamic between Ellen is really amazing. Ellen also has insecurities, regardless of the fact that she isn't plus sized, they don't make it out like WD has it off worse, they acknowledge that everyone has problems, everyone can have self conscious thoughts even if it may not be obvious on the outside. They've known each other since childhood and they've grown up together with their love of Dolly Parton. They have a fight, they have a touching scene of making up, it's fab. She also gains two other friends Millie and Hannah who are some really beautifully characterised misfits. An absolute joy to watch on screen.
WD and her mother don't share that much in common, but it's clear her mother wants to look out for her at any moment she can. When WD shows up to to apply for the beauty pageant after finding out her (always confident and happy) aunt got too scared to compete, her mother doesn't scream at her and march her out. She's obviously not fantastically happy about it as it's obvious she's doing it as a protest, but gives her a chance, and ends up being so proud of her and learning from her at the end.
The film will hit you in some heartfelt and relatable emotional places, and it is here to show you that every body; not just plus size, not just small, every body has insecurities, and every body is an acceptable body. It doesn't drag one down whilst trying to build up the other. Which is why everyone who's ever had body insecurities regardless of size can come out from this film feeling very refreshed.
Oh. I didn't mention my favourite cameo.
Drag Race Ginger Minj is in this along with actor Harold Perrineau playing Lee, and seeing her little improv moments on screen added to my feeling of overall joy.
Probably mainly because I'm a drag queen fan.. but still. They were a beautiful part of the plot and Dumplin' also put out this super fun Jolene music video as a promo, that you must watch if you're into drag.
Dumplin' doesn't put anyone of any other shape or size down to bring itself up
It's love interest is actually a truly sweet guy who you want to root for
The characters are flawed and well written
Everyone develops and learns from one another
The soundtrack is awesome
Deals with handling grief and self destruction in a relatable way
They end the film realistically and not with everyone coming out on top
You will feel good after watching this film
Watch it please okay
Worth noting that if you got this far and you liked these things!
That's okay! Not saying you shouldn't! I'm glad you liked them!
This is just my opinion.