The Eye-Opening Documentary Gaining Serious Ground On Netflix

While former Jeopardy contestant Ken Jennings was acting as the guest host shortly after the death of long-term trivia show legend Alex Trebek, a category loosely related with the Showtime television series Shameless appeared on the board. The clues were read by one of the show's stars, William H. Macy. Macy looked haggard and deflated while reading clues about shameless behavior. And why wouldn't he? It was only two years ago that his wife, Felicity Huffman, found herself to be a part of one of the most public and notoriously shameful college scandals in American history: Operation Varsity Blues.

In March 2019, the largest college admissions scandal to ever be prosecuted by the United States Justice Department became a matter of public record. Approximately 53 people, including parents, corrupt university staff, and the man behind it all, William "Rick" Singer, were all charged with crimes related to illegally manipulating the college system for personal gain.

Singer, who billed himself as an independent college counselor, aided children with wealthy parents in gaining admission to ivy league schools via a "side door" which involved faking things like athletic aptitude and race, all while utilizing bribes upwards of $500,000 to guarantee successful admission.

The investigation, named "Operation Varsity Blues," was a massive part of public discussion in 2019. Of course, 2020 acted like a car mirror, making everything before then seem further away than it actually was. Thankfully, a new film on Netflix is bringing the scandal back to the forefront of people's minds.

Dramatizing FBI wire tap transcripts to tell an important story

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal, directed by Chris Smith (Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened), is a Netflix film which dropped on March 17, 2021 almost exactly two years after the story became public knowledge. The film features a mixture of interviews and recreations of events with Matthew Modine starring as Rick Singer.

The relevant information regarding the recreations is that the FBI made available transcriptions of wire tapped conversations between Rick Singer and the people he worked with and for. The only caveat is that, in some cases, conversations are combined or modified "for time and clarity." However it's worth noting that former investigators within the film make a point of explaining that people tend to be pretty brazen when it comes to being open about committing white collar crime — so, there's not really too much need to dramatize!

In addition to interviews and recreations directly related to the scandal, the other thing Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal employs is explaining the basic realities of how stressful college admissions are for people who are not wealthy. The reason this story remains part of public dialogue is because, despite the extent of the crimes committed, most of the people caught spent minimal time in jail and most are already out. Meanwhile, entrance into ivy league schools (or any schools) remain a challenge for most students, especially financially.

While someone like William H. Macy still finds himself appearing on Jeopardy and starring in a hit series, less fortunate parents find themselves struggling more and more to guarantee that their kids can gain the kind of education that would hopefully secure them a job with a living wage. No wonder we're still talking about this.

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is streaming on Netflix now.