XC: Top Yalies onscreen
For some Yalies, the question “where do you go to school?” is always a little awkward. Say “Yale” proudly, and it comes off as conceited. Say “oh, a college in Connecticut” and it comes off even more so. Face it – the Yale name carries weight, partly because books, movies and television alike have used Yale and its reputation in their storylines. With Oscar nominations recently released, XC highlights some of the notable fictional characters who have rejoiced in their acceptance to this fine Ivy League institution.
Rory Gilmore: In the popular television show “Gilmore Girls,” main character Rory Gilmore spends three seasons fantasizing about her life as a Harvard undergraduate, only to choose Yale at the end of the third season instead. Not that she doesn’t get into Harvard. Rory gets her pick between Harvard, Princeton and Yale, but with four more seasons to go show writers decided to keep her in Connecticut, only a 20 minute drive from her fictional hometown of Stars Hollow.
Blair Waldorf: In the original “Gossip Girl” books, Manhattan socialite Blair Waldorf attends Yale. Unlike Rory, Yale is her dream school all along, although she makes a few mishaps along the way. At her Yale alumni interview, Blair accidentally kisses her interviewer, and her father has to make a large donation to the school to compensate. But no worries – it barely makes a dent in the family’s fortune, and Blair gets her Yale education in the end. Her obsession with the school continues throughout the book series, and in the final chapter Blair’s half-sister is even named Yale.
Kat Arujo: “Mystic Pizza,” the famous romantic comedy from the 1980s, features Kat Arujo, a main character who majors in astronomy at Yale. Kat and her sister Daisy have little in common, besides the fact that they work at the same pizza restaurant in Mystic, Connecticut. All Daisy wants is to find love, but Kat is goal-oriented and is set on achieving her astronomical dreams. The Arujo parents make it no secret that they favor Kat, their younger, less promiscuous, Yale-accepted daughter.
Peter Brand: In the 2011 sports drama “Moneyball,” Jonah Hill plays Peter Brand, a sports analyst who graduated from Yale with a degree in economics. Brand introduces a new method of assessing players’ talent, changing the Major League Baseball draft and how a coach picks his team. Unlike some of these other personalities, Brand is in no way an embarrassment to the Ivy League – he lives up to the Yale name. A true Yalie knows how to shake things up, whether it’s in politics or baseball.
Quinn Fabray: In the third season of “Glee,” Quinn Fabray receives an acceptance letter to the Yale, where she plans to study theater. Of course the letter doesn’t come in mid-December or late-March, when real-life decisions are sent to prospective students, but rather shows up in her mailbox at the end of January. A special letter for a special girl, one with mediocre skills in cheerleading, singing, acting and getting pregnant in high school. Quinn proudly tells her glee club that she’s going to graduate from Yale at the top of her class. Good luck, girl.
Taylor McKessie: Then there’s High School Musical. In a movie series about defying stereotypes, Taylor McKessie is the nerd who also happens to sign and dance. It must be this versatility that secures her Yale acceptance, which is announced on stage at the end of the school musical. Because after watching a debacle of a play with changing lead roles, the whole audience really wants to hear where every member of the senior class will be attending college.
Topanga Lawrence: The ever-popular television show “Boy Meets World” sends kids an important message. Main character Topanga Lawrence is accepted to Yale to the dismay of her clingy boyfriend Corey. After some serious soul-searching, she decides not to go Yale, but to go to school with her boyfriend instead. She even proposes, and because it’s TV it works out. In the real world, education might have a little more weight over love.
Montgomery Burns: “The Simpsons” character Mr. Burns, everyone’s favorite animated villain on a long-running sitcom, attended Yale prior to his days of prime villainy, and was even a member of Skull and Bones. He’s frequently spotted wearing the classic sweater with a dark “Y” sewn onto the front – this evil genius is also quite fashionable. As he would say in a low, sinister voice, his time at Yale was “excellent.”
Josh Lyman: “The West Wing” character Josh Lyman, who spends most of the series as Deputy Chief of Staff for the White House, attended Yale Law School. Lyman is known for his sharp wit, cool confidence, boyish charm and occasional know-it-all attitude, all of which he probably picked up during his law school years. He’s also incredibly proud to call Connecticut his home state, which makes him a stellar alumnus. With all of Lyman’s political success, it’s too bad he’s only fictional.
Shale University: Rather than include a character who attended Yale, “The Flintstones” features an entire university based off of it. Shale University is Yale’s prehistoric counterpart, a member of the Poison Ivy League. In one episode of the show, the Shale University football team faces the archrival, Prinstone University. It’s nice to know that at least in prehistoric times, before the sport was really invented, Yale’s football team was a highly-respected contender in the Poison Ivy League.