Review: Netflix’s ‘Dumplin” an Inspirational and Eye-Opening Drama for All

Mathya Clay, Copy Editor

Everyone has insecurities. Whatever those insecurities may be, people also have their ways of coping with them. Teenage girls are the most prone because of societal pressures to look “perfect.” This is particularly evident in the beauty-pageant obsessed Clover City, the setting of the Netflix original movie “Dumplin’”. Clover City might be obsessed, but Willowdean Dickson has wanted nothing to do with the pageant until now.

Small town Clover City, Texas runs around its Miss Clover City Pageant. It’s the “sold out” show of the year, and every girl in town aspires to win the crown. At least that’s what it seems. Willowdean is the daughter of former pageant queen of 1991, Rosie Dickinson, and her mother’s past fame still suffocates Will’s life. After the tragic death of her aunt who, “raised” her, Will is no longer willing to accept being left behind because of her mother’s high pageant standards.  

In Netflix original’s adaptation of Julie Murphy’s novel of the same name, Will, called by Dumplin’ by her mother, leads a “revolution” against the famous Miss. Clover City Pageant, but it doesn’t go as she originally planned. Will’s mother, being an ex-beauty queen, is very harsh because she has a belief that, “it is harder for big girls,” and says that if she becomes skinny she would have it easy. Even though Will despises hearing her mother say this, she doesn’t deny it. Throughout the movie Will gives up opportunities because of her insecurities. Opportunities like going out with her crush because she can’t fathom the idea of him wanting her. Will has it hard and truly has every right to be angry and upset. Her bold attitude makes the process of her “revolution” even better.

Will hides none of her feelings and ideas, creating one of the great lessons from the movie. Will was proud to stand up for what she wanted. If she thought pageants are about yearning over people “with their measuring tapes,” then you know that’s what she truly thinks and will tell those who thinks otherwise.

A lot of young people don’t speak up, whether it is from fear of their peers or fear of not being heard. Will speaks up and makes a great change in her local town when it comes to inclusion and stereotypes. As a young woman I was inspired to speak up and make needed changes in such a way Will does.

Another thing I loved about the movie are the plot twists. I’ve seen movies and read books that start off the same as “Dumplin’” and they have all ended the same. A stereotypical example: The girl is insecure about something and too shy to speak up. Then suddenly a guy sweeps her off her feet and all her problems disappear. “Dumplin’” was very far from the standard story. “Dumplin’” uses such interesting transitions and explanations that I could not expect the next step, and this kind of storytelling made me want to keep watching out of sheer curiosity

Overall “Dumplin’ was about body positivity and not allowing insecurities to get in your way. Will’s self consciousness came about with her weight. In the start Will didn’t care about opinions, others around her put her down for her body so much, that she began to believe what they were saying as the movie went on.

This is especially shown in a crucial scene when Will has the boy of her dreams, Bo, falling for her and spewing his love. Instead of jumping for joy and happiness she told him, “People like me dont belong with people like you.”  Bo refusing to listen, tells her that she is wrong and “to hell with anyone else who’s ever made you feel less than that.”

This scene is crucial to the message. Throughout the movie Will denies  her and Bo’s feelings for each other because of society’s stereotypical opinions. Although the movie never shows that she does not like the way she looks, it does show that she does how others think of her because of her appearance. Will believed that everyone thought negatively of her. In a scene before that, she even accuses her best friend of many years of secretly disliking her because of her weight. These conflicts reveal how much young girls let society sway their own opinions about themselves and others.    

As you go on the journey with Will and her friends, you are confronted with serious opinions and life lessons like how to deal with growing pains and gain self confidence, things relevant today. As someone who’s very open-minded, the movie had me thinking about my actions and my attitude towards people.

“Dumplin’” is an enjoyable comedic drama about a teenage girl dealing with society’s unrealistic standards. Even though it’s entertaining, it is also educational and teaches a way of living life to which many of us can aspire.