Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., became a Netflix star on Wednesday when the massive streaming service released a new documentary— painted by many as inspirational — following her audacious and uphill bid to beat longtime incumbent and former Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., in 2018.
The documentary follows Ocasio-Cortez, along with three other progressive, female candidates challenging Democrats in congressional races across the country. Throughout the film, Ocasio-Cortez portrays her run as an unlikely, almost irrational, attempt to take power away from the Democratic Party and put it back in the hands of ordinary people.
“If I were, like, a normal, rational person, I would have dropped out this race a long time ago,” Ocasio-Cortez, then a bartender, said at the beginning of the documentary.
She beat Crowley while the other candidates followed for the film — Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri and Jean Swearengin of West Virginia — lost their races.
The documentary’s ending shows the now-iconic moment when Ocasio-Cortez covered her mouth in shock at the news that she’d defeated Crowley.
During the documentary, she addressed concerns about her newcomer status and the audacity she showed in taking on Crowley, who served as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
“In the beginning, the fundamental question is like: ‘Why you?’ Why do you think you can do this?’ The reason why was ’cause nobody else would — so literally anybody could, right? Because the alternative is no one,” she said.
The documentary sheds light on some of Ocasio-Cortez’s inspiration, and passion for the working class, when it delves into her personal life and relationship with her parents.
“My father knew my soul better than anyone on this planet,” she said. “He really made me believe that I had true power in this world.”
She recalled how her mother would clean “a woman’s home in exchange for SAT lessons for me.” Her extended family, she said, “chipped in” everything they could to put a down payment on a house in Yorktown — a move she indicated was intended to give her a better shot at graduating high school than she had in New York City.
“When I was a kid, about half of New York City high schoolers would never graduate,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez promoted the film as a story both parties could enjoy.
“At early screenings, even Trump supporters left the film in tears – because it’s about the power of everyday people,” she said. Others indicated they had similar reactions.
Still, some on Twitter derided the film, dismissing it as an experience they’d willingly trade.
“#NoThanksIdRather cancel my Netflix subscription,” one person tweeted.
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