July 17, 2011

2011 – 2013

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2011 – 2013

Charlie Sheen’s Torpedo of Truth
I’ve mostly kept the gallery to references from fictional entertainment but the inside of Charlie Sheen’s head during his 2011 meltdown probably qualifies as fiction. He re-cut his disastrous 20/20 interview, inserting his own new answers and surrealistic clips and effects, to play as part of his stage show he’s been touring around. And at the 2:20 mark he makes a Vassar joke that makes no sense.

Thanks to Mads Vassar blog

Walking torso Taylor Lautner tells you what you need to know in this actioner.

A Gifted Man
Here's a very earnest show where a brilliant doctor does good. Happily this scene doesn't involve the dead wife appearing as a ghost and giving him advice, a major feature of the show. Shocking it only lasted a season.

Sharp eyes caught this boat appearing in establishing shots for scenes in the Miami Police Department in season 6, episodes 6 and 7. No idea if it was part of the art direction or just what happened to be in the marina when they set up the shot.

Thanks to Stephanie Burkland for spotting these. 

General Hospital (2 episodes)

Perhaps the only people more obsessive than I are the folks to who put transcriptions of every soap opera online. They’re helpful for finding things like this. Here it's Vassar as a character point for an intelligent young woman, and also for a (seeming) grifter. See also All My Children and Another World.

Thanks to Sara Falkove for this one.

College Humor: Superhero Auditions
This web sketch comedy has a running series of auditions for people aspiring to be superheros. This installment from August features a less than stellar superhero and a not-bad Vassar joke.

The embed seems to not be working, so try this link instead.
Thanks to Michael Mestitz for the find.

Here's a not-great sitcom new for the 2011-12 season, which isn't doing so well in the ratings, and this scene might tell you why. Tired humor around male-female relationships with beautiful people who don't work real jobs but have great apartments and fabulous lives. And college will make you temporarily gay. There's hardly a trope this show doesn't bring back from the dead.

Thanks to Dorie Bofshever on this one.

This fourth-season episode from the comedy-drama Castle has father Nathan Fillion coming to terms with his daughter's leaving for college. Vassar is just a label for "good school near New York" -- a good description, after all.

Thanks to Joel Ferat '97ish for the tip. 

Pretty Little Liars (3 episodes)
A show about murder and intrigue among teenagers, here one of the members of the clique confronts her boyfriend about a secret of his past. In later seasons, lead character Aria has difficulty getting into college.

Larry Crowne
In this Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts vehicle, Julia is a teacher at the fictional East Valley Community College. After a hard day, she comes home to a fight with her husband, Bryan Cranston. I'm not sure what this reference to Vassar is actually supposed to mean... 
Thanks for Sean Dacey for the tip.

The Middle (4 episodes)
Yet another sitcom reference - and a bit of a running plot point -- that the dopey teenage boy's quasi-girlfriend left home to go to Vassar. This is the first appearance of this particular stupid-but-obvious joke on the sound of the college's name.

Thanks to Efraim Torres and Stephanie Burkland for the finds.

The Cleveland Show
A new one for the animation gallery from late 2012, this Family Guy spinoff has Cleveland Brown pretending to be homeless. He appears here having found some castoff clothing.
Thanks to Ian Heller for the find. 

Breaking In
This sitcom about a security company of various misfits and miscreants didn't really go anywhere but did give us a spectacularly random Vassar joke. Is it sexual? Weird? I've no idea. The character is pegged as "creepy" and most scenes with her are examples of that weirdness--clearly, this being one.

Pitch Perfect
This comedy about a college a cappella group uses a lovely establishing shot of Vassar to set the scene of the fictional Barden College. (The shot was also helpfully in the film's trailer.) It's rather nice that Vassar is recognized as looking so quintessentially collegiate as to show up in things like this. I've thrown on two funny scenes so this is more than just a five-second shot of the campus.

Not Fade Away
David Chase's coming-of-age story of young musicians in 1960s New Jersey has two old friends reconnecting and starting a romance. Vassar, drugs, and student-teacher relationships all crop up.   

House of Cards
This one -- from the U.S. version of the show -- pretty much speaks for itself.
Thanks to Brett Wean '95 for the catch.

Frances Ha
Vassar alum and much-loved indie filmmaker Noah Baumbach '91 shot a lengthy sequence of his 2012 film on campus.  While Vassar isn't named, the title card does set the scene in Poughkeepsie. The whole sequence is included here.

An oddball comedy in the Napoleon Dynamite vein of a teenage genius at college. He ends up joining the collegiate "Mastermind" team -- intercollegiate competitive trivia, essentially -- and is pursued by a girl who wants his "genius babies." Nice establishing shot of Vassar, at least.

Reaching for the Moon
A biopic of poet and author Elizabeth Bishop '34, who traveled widely, but extended a two-week stay in Brazil to fifteen years, beginning in 1951, in part to her relationship with Maria Carlota Costallat de Macedo Soares.  

The Brass Teapot
An establishing shot of the Library and a scene which looks to have been shot inside are the only reason to pay any attention to this movie, which sold (literally) a hundred tickets on its release in two theaters. The teapot spits out money whenever its owners hurt themselves, so they begin hurting themselves. Two Hasidic Jews (one played by the very non-Jewish Thomas Middleditch of Silicon Valley) show up at his door, punch the hero out, and demand the teapot, which belonged to their grandmother during the Holocaust, or some such nonsense, so they decide to do some research -- at Vassar, apparently -- as to what this thing is.   

Thanks to Rainah Umlauf '17 for pointing me to this.

The Newsroom
This is quite the confluence of Vassar tropes, adding up to a truly awful set of scenes in a critically reviled show that's losing audience like a house on fire due to its preachiness and jaw-dropping self-satisfaction that comes oozing out of the screen with the increasing terribleness of each episode. The character is played by actual Vassar graduate Grace Gummer '08 (and daughter of Meryl Streep '71). Just a guess, but it would seem that in having cast her, writer/creator Aaron Sorkin then rewrote part of the character with that in mind. The character went to Vassar! She then worked as a writer specializing in women's issues/reproductive rights! She's very smart and frequently references that she went to Vassar! She's an independent woman and gets mad when a male journalist gives her an interview she wants but couldn't get herself (but then feels bad for him because he got in trouble for doing so)! There's a stupid pun on Vassar's name! Anyway, here she's been kicked off the Romney campaign's media bus for demanding answers; later she's writing the story based on her interview with Romney; and then she's making up (and out) with the male lead. Barf. Aaron Sorkin has now even managed to ruin Vassar.      

Rachel Bloom video (Pictures of Your Dick)
Fantastic comedian/singer Rachel Bloom has a very funny song with a hard-to-spot Vassar reference at 0:44

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