July 17, 2011


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In the Bedroom
This is an excellent drama about a young man involved with an older woman; her violent ex-husband beats, and later kills him. This scene comes after the beating; his parents worry over the situation and seem to imply he’s a Vassar student. A character point of no particular moment, save that he’s sensitive and intelligent.

Gilmore Girls (3 episodes)
Vassar showed up three times in the second and third season of this popular show about a young mom raising a teenager in an idyllic New England town. Nothing so remarkable here—a character point for a place where a smart and/or well-bred girl should want to go.

Thanks to Jim German for the tip.

Malcolm in the Middle
A top sitcom, and a curious instance where the writers could really have chosen any college, but opted for Vassar. Doesn’t seem to have much import or reason behind the choice; perhaps the writer had a connection to the college?

Thanks to Barbara Monroe for the tip.

Kate & Leopold
Hugh Jackman plays a wealthy New York playboy from the 1870s who has traveled through time to present-day Manhattan where he meets and falls in love with Meg Ryan. He is considerably more sophisticated, cultivated, and charming than anybody around him in 2000, and one loser friend of Ryan’s convinces him to go with him to a club to be his wingman. Jackman turns on the charm with the ladies around the table. (He goes on in this scene to describe the opera Madama Butterfly in loving detail, which is curious since it was written in the 1890s, but I digress.)

Thanks to Jim German for the tip.

Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Woody Allen wrote one of the best Vassar jokes I’ve ever run across in his essay “The Whore of Mensa.” Here, as there, Vassar is used to refer to a place for intellectual women.

Thanks to Michael Weissbluth for the tip.

Justin Long was a Vassar student for a year or so, so I’d imagine this joke crept in through his role in the show. Here, he’s hiring an escort to be his prom date and trying to pass her off as a Vassar student.

Thanks to Jim German, Josh Siegel, and Denise Whalen for the tip.

The District
Yet another cop show (see more police procedurals), this one set in DC. And another Vassar girl tangled up in a web of crime.

Thanks to Jim German for the tip.

Summer Catch
This slight baseball romantic comedy has a fairly basic rich-girl/poor-boy dynamic (see The Flamingo Kid for another). The female lead, Jessica Biel, is supposed to be a Vassar graduate—it says so in every production summary, on the DVD box, and in media that drew from the production materials—but it’s never actually said in the movie. A character point for a rich, smart, and ambitious woman.

The Daily Show (2 episodes)
It’s hard to remember Stephen Colbert back when he was playing characters other than “Stephen Colbert.” The first clip is all the way back from 2001.  A second clip, from 2005, with a bit of a sexist cast in the joke, is also here.

Thanks to Bronwen Pardes ’95 for the tip to the ’01 clip.

The Sopranos (2 episodes)
A wildly popular and critically acclaimed show about the mafia in suburban New Jersey. The first scene here was actually the later one—it’s just a Vassar poster on a wall (look carefully when the woman walks in and out of the office). In the third-season episode “He Is Risen,” daughter Meadow is drunk and wild and trying to get to Vassar to hear a band, but her recalcitrant and ill-fated boyfriend isn’t inclined to go.

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