July 17, 2011


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An Unmarried Woman
A sad and bitter scene from a well-known drama. Jill Clayburgh has left her husband, and is here confronting him about having him pay for her and their daughter’s therapy. Vassar as character point for someone smart, beautiful, and sophisticated.

Not the best James Bond movie, but a great line. This is a very famous clip. Vassar as character point for someone who can take care of herself. (See Gator for a joke along the same lines.)

Uncommon Women and Others
This is a filmed play by Wendy Wasserstein, written originally as her Yale thesis. Focusing on six women reminiscing about their senior year at Mt. Holyoke, the play moves back to present that time in their lives. Featuring Meryl Streep and Swoosie Kurtz, this scene takes place at tea time in the dorm, which all residents are expected to participate in as part of the college’s program of teaching “Gracious Living,” a concept of demure womanly etiquette popularized by Emily Post. Not everyone is entirely buying into it. Vassar is discussed comparatively to others of the Seven Sisters.

Fantasy Island
Anybody who grew up watching this show has to love its tropes. You’ll forgive my including so much of the credits, but they bring back a lot of memories. At the beginning of every episode, Roark (Ricardo Montalban) and Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) would go down to the dock and Roark would introduce the characters who would be visiting for that episode.  We’ve seen Vassar students all over, and faculty (Batman); here’s the first and only appearance of Vassar staff.

Thanks to Richard Koreto for the tip.

Happy Days
Another sitcom appearance, with an easy punchline about men attending Vassar.

Thanks to Lisa Bell ’89 for the tip.

The Facts of Life
The sitcoms keep rolling in, here with the pretentious, well-bred Blair doting on a new, rich boyfriend. Who legitimately goes to Vassar—this was from 1983, and men had been attending Vassar now for more than a decade. It’s the first time we see men referenced as attending simply as a statement of fact, no joke.

Thanks to Angela David Beatty ’93 for the tip.

The Paper Chase
In this episode of the drama series set at a law school, Hart thinks his professor has probably plagiarized an article he submitted for the Law Review, but he has trouble proving it. Happily, a Vassar girl saves the day. Vassar as character point for a character we never even see, referencing intelligence and studiousness.

One of the classic 80's primetime soaps, this fourth season episode has J.R. Ewing preparing for an interview and learning how to ingratiate himself with the reporter.

Remington Steele
A Vassar trustee is here the victim of harassment. Steele's partner, Laura Holt, is posing an alumna visiting her in order to gain access to the harassing calls.

Murder Me, Murder You
A TV movie featuring Stacey Keach as hard-boiled New York City cop Mickey Spillane. While investigating a missing girl—who turns out to be the daughter he never knew he had, who of course went to Vassar—he runs across a shady all-girl courier-service ring. In the end of this scene, the person he’s speaking to in this scene turns out to be the bad guy...and I do mean guy.

Thanks to Jim German for the tip.

St. Elsewhere (5 episodes)
I’ve put together a montage drawn from five different episodes in the 2nd and 3rd seasons. It’s a whole plot arc around Lizzie Westphall’s going to Vassar...and having a tough time of it. It’s a rather heartfelt and realistic look at freshman life from a well-regarded medical drama. There’s even a couple of nice Vassar-specific touches.

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