Accepted looks at the TM Landry Prep School in rural Louisiana. The school boasts an incredible 100% college acceptance rate with over 30% of their students going to Ivy League schools. The student body is predominately Black and underprivileged. It is a feel good story until a scandal rocks the school. But do the ends justify the means?
The school does not sound like a real institution. There are no text books, no schedules, and no homework. It does not make any sense and yet somehow it works. The cracks begin to form early in Accepted. Founder Mike Landry refers to the school as Hell. Meanwhile, the students talk of six day weeks that last until eight o’ clock at night. But is it all just part of the price to pay for success?
Once the scandal breaks, the documentary asks a very interesting question. In an educational system that works against people of color and the poor, are Landry’s methods not just the best ways to succeed, but the only ones? Accepted does not take a side and just lays out what is happening. This allows the audience ask their own questions and make their own decisions.
Nowhere is this more clear when allegations are levied at the school. Accepted tackles everything head on. The stories are unbelievable and the tactics employed by Landry are brutal. In one of the most telling moments, it is revealed that Landry had staged an earlier moment in the film. Obviously, there are some things Landry should not have done; and there is not question he helped students fill out their college applications. But the documentary posits he may have had good reason for the latter.
Wisely, Accepted focuses on the students of the school during the second half. While they try to figure out what to do in the aftermath, it also gives audiences a chance to take everything in. As the documentary comes to an end, the Lori Laughlin college admissions scandal hits the headlines. It also highlights what makes the situation so complicated.
The students at the TM Landry Prep School were competing against rich white people who could pay to send their kids to college. At the same time, the Black kids were literally pulling their hair out just for a chance to be considered. This is where the dilemma lies. Accepted shines a spotlight on a flawed educational system and the school who harmed and hurt its students while trying to take it on.
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