But do you really need to be talking about them?
By Taylor Mascetta
“You think your life is hard? I’m a high school junior that wears size 13 Nikes. MEN’s size 13 Nikes. Beat that.” This quote alone should tell you all you need to know about Netflix’s newest teenage soap opera “Tall Girl.”
The movie tells the story of Jodi, a six-foot-one high school junior. Forget the starving children of Africa, those suffering from crippling depression and those facing racist or homophobic harassment: Jodi wears size 13 Nikes, which is a ~true~ tragedy! Jodi faces multiple mean-spirited comments daily, especially “how’s the weather up there?”, which is repeated at least ten times throughout “Tall Girl.” Instead of doing anything to defend herself, she locks herself in a bathroom stall and reads “Gulliver’s Travels” while repeatedly flushing the toilet (yes… this is an actual scene). The cycle of relentless abuse momentarily stops when Swedish foreign exchange student Stig, who’s the typical blonde-haired, blue-eyed heartthrob, transfers to Jodi’s high school and moves in with her best friend Jack Dunkleman. Jodi, with the help of her model sister Harper, undergoes the essential teenaged rom-com makeover to impress him. However, after he inexplicably starts dating mean girl Kimmy after two days of school, hijinks ensue when Stig realizes he also likes Jodi. Oh, and Dunkleman is also in love with Jodi, so he also spends the entire movie trying to win her heart. Ah, gotta love teenage love triangles.
Simply put, the film is insufferable. Within the first twenty minutes, I had already had enough of Jodi’s self-deprecating comments, and nearly threw my laptop across the room multiple times. She pushes everyone who cares about her away, but allows her bullies to walk all over her. Jodi whines about being single, and knows Dunkleman truly cares for her, but she won’t date him because he’s short. Fareeda—Jodi’s closest friend and the best character in the film—constantly tries to hype her up, but Jodi consistently ignores her advice. Thankfully, the movie does have a satisfying conclusion; Jodi accepts herself, tells off the whole school and gets herself a man (I won’t spoil who). However, 90 percent of the movie is Jodi complaining about her insecurities; her self acceptance speech is a complete 180 degree behavioral turn in the final ten minutes. Her newfound confidence is too little, too late.
Along with the incessant pity party, basically every character is an asshole. Dunkleman is endearing, but he’s also the instigator of Jodi’s love issues, all because he wants her for himself. Harper’s only purpose is to give Jodi a makeover and make lots of corny one-liners. Stig starts as a sweet darling baby angel that must be protected at all costs, but quickly becomes a grade-A jerk by the climax. The most interesting thing about Jodi’s parents is the fact that her mom is Angela from “The Office.” And then there’s Kimmy—her constant belittlement of Jodi is endlessly irritating, and her redemption story is nonexistent. Fareeda is the most likable character out of the bunch—she’s confident and the only character that doesn’t take shit from anyone. Unfortunately, it’s obvious she’s the standard “POC supporting character” for diversity, and she completely vanishes an hour into the film.
The elephant in the room with “Tall Girl” is Jodi’s “alienation” from society. Jodi is white, slender, wealthy and straight. Sure, she’s tall, but her issues are extremely hyperbolic and melodramatic. The film depicts her as the “minority” and it’s hard to root for a character you just can’t feel pitiful for. Besides the height, this girl has everything. What makes it worse is that she doesn’t care about anyone else’s problems besides her own. There’s a scene where Fareeda insinuates she has a tough time at home, and she tells Jodi that it would be nice if one of her friends checked in on her for a change. Naturally, Jodi sweeps this info under the rug and begins considering height reduction surgery instead. It’s as if Netflix is grooming its audience to pity the white girl. Progressive shows such as “Sense8,” “One Day at a Time,” and “Tuca and Bertie,” which do show the struggles of marginalized POC or LGBTQ+ groups, are being dropped left and right in favor of films like this.
I’ll give “Tall Girl” this—tall girls everywhere can relate to Jodi’s struggles. Also, the revelation of why Dunkleman carries around his milk crate made me swoon. The movie, however, just takes itself way too seriously. It feels insensitive to real problems that are going on. But, there’s one good thing that came out of this film—those Tik Tok memes. Go scroll through the tag if you have the app; it’s an absolute goldmine.
And, by the way, did you know she wears size 13 men’s Nikes?