This Is Why Everyone Is So Disappointed In The ‘Bama Rush’ Documentary

Spurned on by leaked deranged sorority emails, in recent years sorority rush season has become a TikTok phenomenon known as #rushtok. Fans of all ages and backgrounds tune in and make celebrities out of aspiring sorority sisters. Even if you’ve never intentionally searched out RushTok, you’ll probably recognize the singsong delivery of outfit details in the “Shoes: Target, Dress: Shein, Jewelry: Kendra Scott” format that is popular among rushing students.

The Bama Rush poster looks interesting AF.

‘Bama Rush is the extremely competitive sorority recruitment season at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Max documentary Bama Rush (2023) was presented as a juicy deep dive into this viral spectacle. However, the highly anticipated documentary was met with negative reviews by fans and critics, and has a shockingly low 1.6 rating on Letterboxd. So why did everyone hate Bama Rush?

There is plenty of interesting drama that the film could have covered. The rush process is plagued by controversy like those leaked emails, racist official and unofficial Greek practices (in 1986 a cross was burned on the lawn of a Black sorority at Bama), and the extreme cost of Greek life ($4-5k per semester). The problem is, the film chose not to dive into the most interesting aspects of Bama Rush and instead spent a lot of time on director Rachel Fleit’s lifelong struggle with alopecia and her personal fascination with fitting in and sorority culture. While her story is interesting, it’s no Bama Rush.

I can’t think of a worse way to get people interested in your personal health history than bait and switching them with a Bama Rush documentary.

Viewers felt like the documentary was a bait and switch. We were promised salacious sorority content and got the director’s personal story instead. One viewer said, “Using Alabama sorority rush as a Trojan horse to talk about your battle with alopecia is easily one of the most bizarre directorial choices in the history of film.” While the film does a great job of humanizing the four young students it featured, it just lacks a voice of reason that critically talks about everything sketchy about Greek life in general and Bama Rush in particular. Another succinct review says “This is a recruitment commercial for Alabama, a therapy session for a filmmaker with alopecia, a TikTok ad. This isn’t a good or interesting documentary.”

One creepy aspect of the documentary was its coverage of “The Machine”, a secret society linked to members of Bama frats and sororities that purportedly controls everything on campus. Director Rachel Fleit allegedly received death threats from the group. Yet it feels like we barely learn anything about this extremely interesting and important topic. At the end of this 100 minute film, none of the most interesting topics in the documentary were covered in any satisfying depth.

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