Bama Rush releases on Max but is not as dramatic as it seemed



Bama Rush carries out the story of young girls and their experience with the Rush culture

Katy Clark

On May 23rd, Bama Rush was released on Max. This documentary, directed by Rachel Fliet, follows four girls as they get ready to rush to the University of Alabama. All from different backgrounds, these girls discuss their trials, insecurities, and the reasons closest to them why they want to rush during this hour-and-41-minute documentary.

Based on the trailer, the documentary seemed like it was going to reveal all the dark secrets of Bama Rush and finally get into the deep-set controversies that surround it. Instead Bama Rush seemed like a fluffed-up censored version of what the audience expected it to be. It seemed to be more of a day in the life as a want-to-be pledge than a commentary on the institution as a whole.

The Storyline

One of the more dramatic lines from the trailer that pulled people in was the promise that this film would have the ability to end Greek Life as we know it. With these high expectations coming into the film, it felt like the viewer was slightly blindsided watching the movie. They saw that it spent more time talking about the four girls and how they were planning for the Rush season than the inner workings of the sororities at Alabama. While it was interesting when they touched on topics like The Machine and the backlash Fliet received from people at the university, this part of the documentary seemed more shoehorned in than an integral part of the film. 

Speaking of the four girls, their stories actually ended up being more exciting and relatable than expected from the trailer. These girls were not the shallow and stereotypical sorority girls that were to be expected from watching a documentary centered around rushing.

In particular, Makayla and Holliday had me emotional at certain parts of their story. Friends before rush, their dynamic seemed friendly and wholesome, albeit they did have their struggles and fights. When the title card talked about their friendship breakup, it left me feeling a little heartbroken. In a world where it might be easy to be fake and lose one’s individuality, their friendship seemed genuine and something for the audience to root for.

Major Takeaways

In addition to the characters, the viewer gets an inside look at the recruitment process, however much to my surprise, it focused more on the anticipation of Rush than the actual process itself. It felt like the director spent 75 percent of the film in the first half talking about their nerves and excitement and how they prepared but did not do a good job covering the actual recruitment process itself. I would have wanted to see more footage from Bid Day and the characters about to go into their interviews with the different houses. Instead, the characters spent the majority of the film not at the sorority houses and doing sorority-related activities. Although this might not be the fault of the editor, as sorority rules may limit some footage, the way the trailer was presented inaccurately displayed the direction of the film.

Although this may be unpopular, I thought the use of the tik tok montages and party sequences were expertly used to show the true cutthroat and intensity of rush. This was something that took many people around the world by storm in 2021 with #bamarush. I thought it accurately captured the southern traditional culture surrounding Bama Rush and really immersed the viewers into the life of a person who wants to be a sorority girl. It led to important discussions about body image insecurity with Isabelle and a yearning to fit into sorority culture with Makayla.

Final Thoughts

Instead of getting a cutthroat expose on rush culture at Alabama, Bama Rush gave me a focused character-driven story that showed the ups and downs of emotions during the preparation for rushing. I definitely expected to come out of the documentary knowing more about the process than I actually did due to its shallow dive into many parts of the process. That does not mean I was totally disappointed as I did like the characters more than I thought I would. I also enjoyed learning their stories. In the end, I did not get much out of this documentary, and for viewers yearning to learn the deep dark secrets they should know they will be disappointed. In the end, it is just about four girls trying to find their place in Alabama.