New Year, New Netflix: ‘Moxie’

The patriarchy gets taken down from the halls of a high school in Netflix’s ‘Moxie’

Phoebe Sklansky, Staff Writer

When quarantine isolation hit, 2020 became the year of Netflix and chill. Stay-at-home mandates transformed binge-watching from a guilty pleasure into one of the only ways to stay sane. How else can we explain the popularity of “Tiger King?” But new competitors on the oversaturated streaming market means it’ll take a New Year’s miracle to reassert Netflix’s dominance. And that’s exactly what they’ve delivered: in 2021, Netflix plans to release one new movie. Every. Single. Week. There’s comedy, there’s romance, there’s historical fiction thriller—you name it, Netflix’s 2021 lineup has got it.

So, come join Leo DiCaprio, Gal Gadot and The Vanderbilt Hustler for “New Year, New Netflix,” our new column from the Life staff where one lucky writer will take you through a new Netflix movie every week. We’ve got a lot to watch, and so do you.

 

Spaghetti strap bans, mansplaining and the downplaying of harassment? Um, I’ll pass, and so will Vivian Carter and the other female students of Rockport High.

The new Netflix Original “Moxie” begins on the first day of 11th grade as Vivian (Hadley Robinson) and her best friend, Claudia (Lauren Tsai), gossip about who they predict will get the top rankings this year. And no, they don’t mean the highest GPA or Prom Queen—at Rockport High, girls are ranked by “Best Ass,” “Best Rack” and “Most Bangable,” among other degrading designations. Sexism and rape cullture are rampant at Rockport, but that’s about to change. 

Patrick Schwarzenegger is cute, sure, but boy does he have a punchable face. And trust me, you’ll want to punch his character, Mitchell Wilson, after watching his antics. This blonde captain of the football team—who reeks of male privilege—has taken it upon himself to harass the new student at school, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña). This is the problematic culture at Rockport High, where the patriarchy is about to come crashing down. 

After the rankings are released at a pep rally, Vivian dashes out of the gym, rightfully disturbed and unsettled by the blatant objectification. She discovers some of her mom’s old belongings from her “riot grrrl” phase, and just like that, the feminist zine “Moxie” is born. The zine makes waves right away, as the female students of Rockport begin to realize that other girls feel the same way about the school’s culture. Vivian continues to put out zines with the help of some new friends (and allies), and soon, feminism is trending in the halls of Rockport High. She also starts dating a guy, which is a questionable plot line given the film’s emphasis on female independence and strength—did Netflix feel like they needed a romance to legitimize the disruption of the status quo? Food for thought. That said, he is a feminist and actively supports “Moxie,” which is HOT. Moving on, because a man doesn’t deserve more airtime in this article. 

The “Moxie” cast features old and new talent. Ike Barinholtz nails his role as a sarcastic male English teacher, and who doesn’t want Amy Poehler to be their mom? Newcomer Alycia Pascual-Peña serves us killer I’m-over-the-patriarchy-and-what-of-it? vibes as Lucy, and Hadley Robinson navigates Vivan’s naïve-to-woke arc well. To give you a little glimpse at what I mean, Vivian brings a bottle of wine as a hostess gift to a raucous high school house party (iconic, but clueless) but is boldly leading the Moxie movement by the end of the movie.

Overall, “Moxie’s” feminist message was a little too on-the-nose compared to what I would have hoped (and as someone who proudly owns a “The Future is Female” t-shirt, that’s saying something). It felt more like Gen Z TikTok social justice rather than anything groundbreaking, but after all, it is a Netflix Original. While it’s refreshing to see feminism take the front seat in a movie for a change, I’m not sure that “Moxie” is the vehicle I’d choose. That being said, a platform is a platform, and it’s encouraging to see important issues like sexism, sexual assault and toxic masculinity addressed in a major motion picture. Though this movie is anything but nuanced, it does a great job of illustrating the problem of the patriarchy, and I will definitely be incorporating some of its killer lines into my vocabulary.

★★★★