Calm Down Jodi, You’re Just Tall: Why the Netflix Original Tall Girl is Problematic
Netflix is known for their original movies of which some have done very well (To All The Boys I Loved Before) but Tall Girl is a movie that not only looks ridiculous, but absolutely is. The movie follows Jodi: a blond, conventionally attractive, straight, white, wealthy woman and her very difficult life. Her biggest issue is that she is…tall. That’s right, the movie shows her “incredibly difficult life” as a girl that is 16 and 6 '2.
Within the first ten minutes, the movie delivers the most egregious line I have ever heard. Jodi narrates: “You think your life is hard, I'm a junior in high school wearing size 13 Nikes, Mens." As a disabled, Muslim, immigrant, woman of color it was so funny to hear that line. Not to mention, after a quick google search, I learned men’s Nike shoes cost upwards of 100 dollars. Maybe I’m wildin’, but I’m failing to see an issue here.
Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that I’m sure tall girls are often bullied. This movie could’ve done a great job exploring the challenges that tall girls face, but making all other problems obsolete in the face of a privileged insecurity is not the right approach.
Right after Jodi makes that gut punching line, we are introduced to her black friend. If not already lost, this is where the movie loses me 100%. I really am failing to understand if this movie is a joke or if it’s actually serious. Right after, we meet Jodi’s insanely beautiful pageant queen sister (whose downfall is her allergies?) and Jodi’s two clueless parents. I promise I am not being necessarily mean when I say that because when Jodi confronts her mother about what adversity her mother could possibly face, she replies, “Well, I was not very popular with the other girls in school because I was too beautiful.” I can’t even think about what I would say to that.
We, soon after, are introduced to one of Jodi’s two main love interests in the film: Jack, who’s only characteristics are that he’s short, he carries his books in a milk crate, and he relentlessly hits on Jodi. Literally ten seconds later, Stig, a tall and handsome exchange student, comes along and Jodi immediately falls for him. To get his attention, she enlists the help her pageant queen sister who gives her a makeover, which is problematic in and of itself because that perpetuates the idea that girls need to wear makeup and dress a certain way in order to attract boys.
The most iconic scene, however is the prank call. Jodi’s childhood bully: Kimmy and her henchman call Jodi posing as Stig and ask her to homecoming, but later reveal that it was a prank. The implication is that no one would ever love Jodi because she’s a foot taller than the average height of a woman. I found it a bit unrealistic because I don’t think being tall would warrant that kind of extreme reaction. Her new look, however does catch the attention of Stig and he invites her over (romantically, even though he is dating Kimmy) to watch a movie. At the end of the movie, they kiss, even though they know it’s wrong.
Her new look also piques the interest of yet another boy, who is none other than Kimmy’s henchman. Now, I want to note here that Jodi’s biggest insecurity with her height is that boys don’t like her (which also perpetuates the idea that a women’s value is tied to men wanting them) but so far every man in the movie so far has shown romantic interest in Jodi. So, it doesn’t seem to be that big of a problem.
The last thing I want to say about this movie pertains to the ending where Jodi ends up with Jack. First of all, I find the romance forced and last minute, as the whole movie is spent on Jodi and Stig and the last maybe 5 minutes is spent on Jack. Second of all, I just think his character is a little problematic, as he refuses to take no for an answer and at times seems manipulative and possessive. What bothers me is that he still ends up with Jodi, despite her not showing any romantic interest in him throughout the film. I don’t think that's a good message to be sending. Also, turns out, the reason he carries all of his books in a milk crate is so that he could eventually stand on it and kiss Jodi one day, which he reveals at the end of the movie where they share the most awkward kiss known to man.