Review: Netflix’s “Operation Varsity Blues” exposes college admission scandal

Matthew Modine portrays William "Rick" Singer in a recreated scene from the documentary "Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal." (Adam Rose/Netflix via AP)

By Jenna Frisby | Social Media Editor

Money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you a spot on a D1 athletic team. Or so we thought.

In March 2019, perhaps one of the largest college admissions schemes came to light. More than 50 people were charged with their involvement in bribing their children’s way into top universities around the nation. Netflix recently released “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal,” which tells the story of how this scam came to be.

The primary focus of the documentary is on the ringleader of the operation: Rick Singer. He used his connections at universities to manipulate admissions and testing procedures in order to get his clients into the school of their choice. Primarily, he achieved this through athletic recruiting, especially on some of the lesser publicized sports such as crew, sailing and water polo.

The documentary uses a combination of actors and actual phone conversations that took place to give the audience a realistic look into how these bribes took place. Viewers are able to hear the literal words exchanged between Singer and his clients, providing an interesting, yet chilling aspect to the story.

Infamously, two of the families involved were actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli and actress Felicity Huffman. The documentary explains that while these celebrities gained the most press attention, there were other parents around the country doing the same thing. After watching the documentary, seeing how many parties and universities were actually involved, the media downplayed the scheme’s widespread damage.

One of the most heartbreaking moments of the documentary was when they showed all of the kids who were rejected from their dream school. These students were hard-working and deserving kids compared to the entitled and privileged children who got in fraudulently. Part of the American Dream is that hard work will pay off and that all citizens are given equal opportunities to succeed. The rich kids that were handed a ticket into college on a silver platter took that dream away from them.

It’s remarkable how this scam was able to go on for so long before being exposed. The operation was so strategically planned by Singer and any threat of exposure was bribed to keep quiet.

The amount of attention and criticism all parties involved has made up for the unethical behavior they displayed. On the other hand, the irreversible damage of taking a spot on a roster and ruining an “average” student’s chances of getting into college can never be forgotten.