Ben Oliver

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film

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal

I’m sure the kids that did get accepted were super deserving.
01 May 2021

A look into the scheme that allowed wealthy American parents to buy their kids’ way in to prestigious universities.

This documentary leans too heavily on dramatisation, but you can see why they made that choice. Some of the telephone wire tap transcripts between the parents and Rick Singer, the guy who masterminded the idea, are so candid that they are more arresting that any facts or figures a talking head could throw at you. In fact, if I hadn’t known they were real I wouldn’t have believed that people would so clearly and precisely discuss their crimes over the phone.

There are no surprises at all here, it’s almost disappointing how pedestrian the scam was. You phone Singer, you say you want to pay to get your kids in Harvard, he bribes officials to make it happen. It’s all laid out, clear as day on the phone for the FBI. There’s no clever trick, no sleight of hand, just money and greed.

A well-told but not particularly interesting story.