Taylor Swift's Miss Americana: The 5 best and 5 worst things we learned

Miss Americana, the much-anticipated Taylor Swift documentary, made its Netflix debut on Jan. 31, 2020, immediately setting the Internet abuzz with reactions from diehard Swiftie fans. "I'm so proud of how she finally found her voice and that now she's not afraid anymore of what is going to happen if she says what she really thinks," one fan posted to Twitter. Added another, "Imagine being cancelled by the entire population on earth and coming back way stronger and grow more famous than ever. No one will ever accomplish that [feat] aside from Taylor Swift herself." 

There's no question that Swift's longtime fans will cherish Miss Americana for providing an inside glimpse into the singer-songwriter's life, which has gradually become more and more private as Swift has battled personal demons, navigated familial upsets, and fallen in love. Fortunately, however, Miss Americana somehow manages to capture sides to the songstress even the biggest Swift fans have never seen before.

Here's a look at the best and worst things we learned about Taylor Swift in the Netflix documentary Miss Americana

Best: Taylor Swift talked about falling in love in Miss Americana

Taylor Swift's love life has been a hot topic ever since the crossover star's teenage years. From her infamous phone call breakup with Joe Jonas to the whirlwind romance with Jake Gyllenhaal that allegedly inspired the fan favorite song "All Too Well," Swift's short-lived relationships have long been fodder for tabloids and late night monologue jokes. However, her romance with actor Joe Alwyn — whom the songstress started dating in 2016 — has managed to defy the odds.

While Miss Americana features Alwyn hugging Swift and kissing her forehead after a show, the superstar never mentions her beau by name in the Netflix documentary. Still, Swift did gush about her relationship with the British actor, saying she fell in love with "someone who had a really wonderfully normal, balanced, grounded life." Swift continued, revealing, "We decided together that we wanted our relationship to be private."

As home videos presumably filmed by Alwyn flash onscreen, including a clip of Swift serenading her boyfriend with her song "Call It What You Want," the songstress added, "It was happiness without anyone else's input. It was just ... we were happy."

Worst: Taylor Swift hid an eating disorder for years, as discussed in Miss Americana

Miss Americana doesn't shy away from showcasing some of the darker aspects of Taylor Swift's life and stardom, such as the singer's longstanding feud with Kanye West and her scary experiences with crazed stalkers. However, Swift also opened up about a personal struggle she'd managed to keep hidden from her fans and the media for the entirety of her career.

As Swift revealed during a car ride in Miss Americana, she spent years battling an eating disorder; though, if anyone asked her about it when it was happening, Swift said she'd deny anything was wrong (via Us Weekly). "I was like, 'What are you talking about? Of course I eat. It's perfectly normal. I just exercise a lot,'" Swift said in the documentary, recounting how she'd defend her ultra-thin frame. The star continued, admitting, "And I did exercise a lot, but I wasn't eating."

Added Swift, "I don't think you know you're [developing an eating disorder] when you're doing it gradually."

Best: Miss Americana shows Taylor Swift learning to accept her body

Despite secretly battling an eating disorder, Taylor Swift has seemingly managed to take control of her health and happiness by changing her mindset, no longer bending to meet society's expectations of what she should look like. 

In Miss Americana, the "Lover" songstress, whose record Lover contained a lot of details about her relationships, lamented the pressure put on women to maintain a certain appearance, saying, "There's always some standard of beauty that you're not meeting." Calling the expectations "f***ing impossible," Swift continued, "If you're thin enough, then you don't have that a** that everybody wants. But if you have enough weight on you to have an a**, then your stomach isn't flat enough."

According to Swift, she still feels pressured to look thin, especially when faced with unflattering paparazzi photos (via USA Today). However, the superstar refuses to allow herself to fall back into what she calls a "hate spiral." Talking to the Miss Americana cameras, Swift said, "I caught myself starting to do it yesterday, and I was like, 'Nope, we don't do that anymore ... Because it's better to think you look fat than to look sick.'"

Worst: According to Miss Americana, the Kanye West incident affected Taylor Swift more than anyone knew

Even if you don't consider yourself a diehard Taylor Swift fan, chances are you know at least some of the details surrounding Taylor Swift's feud with rapper Kanye West. At the 2009 VMAs, West stormed the stage as Swift was accepting the award for Best Female Video, grabbed the microphone from her hand, and declared, "Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!"

Apparently, the televised fiasco cut deeper than Swift's speechless reaction let on. After interrupting Swift, West was booed by the VMAs audience; however, according to Swift, she thought she was the object of everyone's displeasure. "It was so echoey in there," Swift said in Miss Americana, recalling the infamous moment. She continued, "At the time, I didn't know they were booing him doing that. I thought that they were booing me."

Calling the 2009 VMAs "sort of a catalyst for a lot of psychological paths" she ultimately traversed, Swift told the Miss Americana cameras, "For someone who's built their whole belief system on getting people to clap for you, the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience."

Best: Taylor Swift's Miss Americana showcases her outstanding work ethic

During the first five minutes of Miss Americana, Taylor Swift's record-shattering career is pieced together chronologically, beginning with a teenaged Swift being introduced at the U.S. Open to sing the national anthem. From there, viewers watch as Swift becomes an overnight country sensation with her debut album, ultimately working her way to international superstardom.

"Thank God I had that work ethic," Swift said at one point during Miss Americana. She continued, "I can't change what's gonna happen to me, but I can control what I write."

While the montage serves as a good reminder that Swift has undoubtedly earned her place as one of the most recognizable pop stars in the world, Miss Americana truly captures the singer's work ethic by including her reaction to her sixth studio album, Reputationbeing excluded from the 2018 Grammy Awards' top categories (via Vulture). "This is good. This is fine," Swift said upon hearing the news, visibly holding back tears. She continued, "I just need to make a better record."

Considering Swift was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2020 Grammy Awards, it seems she accomplished her goal. 

Worst: Taylor Swift's had a hard time with her mom's cancer diagnosis, as shown in Miss Americana

Taylor Swift is incredibly close with her mother, Andrea Swift. So, Swifties everywhere were understandably concerned in 2015, when Swift announced her beloved mom had been diagnosed with cancer. 

In Miss Americana, Swift opened up about how her mom's cancer diagnosis has impacted her life, saying, "That has been really hard for me because she's my favorite person." She continued, "[The diagnosis] woke me up from this life where I used to sweat all these things. But, like, do you really care if the Internet doesn't like you today if your mom's sick from her chemo?"

While her mom's cancer diagnosis isn't discussed in-depth in Miss Americana, Swift did reveal in a January 2020 interview with Variety that her family had received another devastating blow. "While she was going through treatment, they found a brain tumor," Swift told the publication. She continued, saying, "And the symptoms of what a person goes through when they have a brain tumor is nothing like what we've ever been through with her cancer before. So it's just been a really hard time for us as a family."

Best: Taylor Swift proves her songwriting prowess in Miss Americana

"Everybody in music has their own sort of niche specialty thing that they do that, you know, sets them apart from everybody else," Taylor Swift explained in Miss Americana. She continued, saying, "My storytelling is what it is for me. I know that without me writing my own songs, I wouldn't be here."

Since the beginning of her career, Swift has been known for her ability to expertly craft songs that perfectly encapsulate emotions and experiences to which every person can relate. Of course, however, not everyone was always convinced. "I had assumed Taylor didn't write too much of her own music ... and was likely puppeteered by an aging gang of music executives," artist Imogen Heap once wrote in a 2014 blog post (via Mic). 

While filming Miss Americana, Swift was seemingly on a mission to prove that she's a singing-songwriting machine — and it would be nearly impossible to walk away from the documentary unimpressed. From the clips of Swift crafting the hook to "Getaway Car" to the clips of her writing "Only the Young," Swift used Miss Americana as an opportunity to remind the world of her songwriting talent. 

Worst: In Miss Americana, Taylor Swift is told to keep her opinions to herself

Miss Americana is filled to the brim with emotional, gut-wrenching moments. However, one of the biggest tearjerkers presented by the Netflix documentary is Taylor Swift's revelation that she'd long been discouraged from speaking out and ruining her "nice girl" reputation. 

"Part of the fabric of being a country artist is 'Don't force your politics on people. Let people live their lives,'" Swift explained in Miss Americana. She continued, "A nice girl doesn't force their opinions on people. A nice girl smiles and waves and says thank you. A nice girl doesn't make people feel uncomfortable with her views."

In one standout emotional scene, Swift began to cry during an argument with male members of her team, including her father, while explaining her desire to endorse democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections (via USA Today). "I just want to read you what I wrote," a teary-eyed Swift said, barely able to finish her sentence without being interrupted by her dad, who insisted she stay out of the political fray.

Best: Taylor Swift finds her confidence and uses her voice in Miss Americana

Despite being heavily discouraged by male members of her team — especially her father, Scott Swift — from speaking out and endorsing candidates in the the 2018 midterm elections, Taylor Swift finally found and fully harnessed her voice in Miss Americana. "I need to do this," Swift told her father, pleading for his blessing to publicly endorse Tennessee's democratic candidates. Wiping away tears, she continued, "Dad, I need you to forgive me for doing it, because I'm doing it." 

And, as seen in Miss Americana, Swift did do it, making headline after headline with her unprecedented Instagram post endorsing former Governor Phil Bredesen and Representative Jim Cooper (via NBC News). Later, on the set for her "You Need to Calm Down" music video, Swift revealed, "I feel really good about not feeling muzzled anymore. And it was my own doing."

Added Swift, "I needed to learn a lot before I spoke to 200 million people. But I've educated myself now, and it's time to take the masking tape off of my mouth."

Worst: Taylor Swift's life is planned for her in advance, as shared in Miss Americana

As glamorous as Taylor Swift's life can certainly seem through carefully curated Instagram photos and show-stopping performances, Miss Americana proves that superstardom has just as many cons as it does pros — if not more. 

In one Miss Americana scene, Swift can be seen hanging out with producer Joel Little and enjoying a burrito — a culinary item she surprisingly revealed she didn't even try until her late 20s (via The Atlantic). While talking with Little, Swift expressed her nervousness about turning 29 years old. "There's a part of me that feels like I'm 57 years old, but then there's a part of me that's, like, definitely not ready to have kids, definitely not ready for all this grown-up stuff," Swift said. Little responded, telling her he doesn't believe anyone's every really "ready" for those things. Instead, he said, people figure it out when it happens.

"I kind of don't really have the luxury of figuring stuff out, because my life is planned, like, two years ahead of time," Swift revealed, delivering a sobering reminder to never take a moment of normalcy for granted.