The fun thing about the pandemic’s complete shattering of the illusion of time is that there is no longer such a thing as “too soon,” which is how we wind up with a documentary about the college admissions scandal—a thing that simultaneously happened very recently and an entire lifetime of news cycles ago. Debuting March 17 on Netflix, Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal reunites filmmakers Chris Smith and Jon Karmen with the streamer, which previously released their Fyre fest documentary Fyre—aka the one with the guy who said he’d suck dick for bottled water.
For their latest effort, Smith and Karmen combine documentary footage with recreations based on actual FBI wiretaps of conversations between Rick Singer (played in the reenactments by Matthew Modine) and his clients—wealthy parents who paid Singer lots of money to get their kids into prestigious colleges through what he called a “side door.” Those clients notoriously included celebrities like Felicity Huffman and former Aunt Becky Lori Laughlin, both of whom served minimal prison time (two weeks for Huffman, two months for Laughlin) for their part in the scandal.
Here’s the official synopsis for Operation Varsity Blues:
An examination that goes beyond the celebrity-driven headlines and dives into the methods used by Rick Singer, the man at the center of the shocking 2019 college admissions scandal, to persuade his wealthy clients to cheat an educational system already designed to benefit the privileged. Using an innovative combination of interviews and narrative recreations of the FBI’s wiretapped conversations between Singer and his clients, Operation Varsity Blues offers a rare glimpse into the enigmatic figure behind a scheme that exposed the lengths wealthy families would go to for admission into elite colleges, and angered a nation already grappling with the effects of widespread inequality. From Chris Smith and Jon Karmen, the filmmakers behind Fyre, and starring Matthew Modine as Rick Singer.