Miss Americana (2020) is a Netflix documentary focused on Taylor Swift and her career thus far. Directed by Lana Wilson, Taylor Swift is the focus whilst inviting fellow musicians and producers, including Brendon Urie, Ryan Tedder and Jack Antanoff. Focusing on the production of her latest album, “Lover”, Taylor looks back at her life, the immense pressure the media put on her and how life in the spotlight has shaped her life.
I will like to start off the review by clarifying my stance on Taylor Swift pre-Miss Americana. Contrary to many people thinking it is “cool” to hate on her in this day and age, I have been a fan of Taylor for many years. From her music to her persona, I have appreciated the choices she has made in terms of the music industry and being true to herself. Whenever any media outlet blasted her, I saw through it and could tell it was clickbait to drag down a woman being successful in the industry. I have been by her side for years, and it has annoyed me when people thought it was okay to start hating on her because of lies and a negative perspective she had placed on her.
This documentary goes back into the start of Taylor’s career and covers so many aspects of her life in the space of 80 minutes. A lot of aspects that were covered about her in the media, from the MTV Awards scandal with Kanye to her decision to embrace her political stance. Whilst these moments are shown, they are also delved in deeper with behind-the-scene footage and extra commentary on what she was going through in those moments, which helps create a connection with her and adds extra weight to those moments we have all witnessed over and over again.
I was concerned about how her music would be incorporated into the documentary, considering her current issue of having her own music blocked for personal use including this film. However, they get around this by using concert footage across the years. I am glad that they didn’t just stick with recordings from her new album, which is in fair use, as I feel that doing that would have caused the documentary to feel even more like a commercial alongside her newest release. This felt more authentic and also allowed for these wide shots of the crowd and to see how quickly she progressed to stadiums and sell-out arenas.
For a documentary focusing on one individual and having it be somebody so young, it was smart to make it a shorter runtime of 80 minutes. Whilst so much has happened to Taylor already, there is simply not enough to drag this out for longer than an hour and a half and I am glad they did not attempt to do so. Instead, the information is presented cleanly and simply, giving the facts and letting the situation sink in before moving to the next topic of choice. It felt like a natural progression and, even with a clear bias for Taylor, nothing felt forced in order to make her come out looking good here.
There were several guests that came on to be a part of the documentary, most of which were recordings at the moment and not narration or an interview style. I quite liked this approach, as it felt more organic and real than just having them sit in a chair and be asked about her. This is a case of show, not tell and it works effectively here. I also have to say that, as a huge fan of Panic! at the Disco, I may have left out a joyous squeal to see Brendon Urie appear, showing the process of recording a song and music video alongside Taylor.
The one issue that this documentary falls through, which is something that cannot be helped when it comes to a subject matter like this, is that it can come off heavily as a “documercial”, in which it feels like more of a commercial or promo for Taylor and not a documentary. There is a heavy focus on Lover and working on her latest album, which is actually the least interesting section of the film and one that it constantly goes back to. I wish that the documentary focused a little more on her past and how she became who she is, not just where she is at this moment and time.
Whether you are a fan of Taylor Swift or not, this documentary delves deep into the world of being in the entertainment industry and the downfalls of the situation. It is heartbreaking to see everything she went through laid in an 80-minute runtime, and I hope people give this a watch and realise how much pressure they have put on her. I have been a fan of Taylor Swift for years now, and whilst this film can come off as a commercial for her at times, I hope people who aren’t so generous to her give her a shot.
Have you had a chance to check out Miss Americana yet? Are you a fan of Taylor Swift, or could you be persuaded by this documentary to become one? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.