The Best Performances, Off the Field

A power duo.
A power duo. // Wikipedia

Let’s be real — many of you reading this aren’t going to pay a lot of attention at The Game. For all of you couch potatoes, the real showdown takes place in movies and on the silver screen. You probably pick up on every character with Ivy blood and wonder how screenwriters choose alma maters for their characters. In the competitive spirit of this weekend’s Harvard-Yale Game, we’re pairing up some prominent fictional students and alums of Harvard and Yale. Can you guess which school will reign supreme?

 

Gladiators in the White House

President Fitzgerald Grant III (H) v. First Lady Mellie Grant (Y) of “Scandal”

Shonda Rhimes loves her some Ivy League cachet. As the creator and showrunner of three hit shows — including soapy-as-ever “Grey’s Anatomy” and heart-stopping “Scandal” — Queen Rhimes is known for writing characters that are fast-talking, sexy as Hell, and above all, intelligent. Rhimes herself is somewhat of a prestige-seeker; according to her recent New York Times Magazine profile, the Dartmouth grad applied to and attended USC’s film school because she had read that it was more difficult to get into than Harvard Law. Badass, Shonda. Badass.

One of my absolute Shondaland faves is Mellie Grant, First Lady of the United States in “Scandal.” She and her husband, President Fitz, have one of the most convoluted marriages on television. She is his enemy, the only thing standing between protagonist Olivia Pope, his mistress, and his perma-erection for her. But she is also his friend, a loyal wife that gave up everything — and after last week’s episode, you’ll know that I mean literally everything — for her husband’s happiness and career. Incidentally, both are Harvard grads: Mellie for undergrad (which is perhaps the root of her occasional mean spirit) and Fitz for law school. But Mellie also attended Yale Law, and Bellamy Young, the glamorous actress who plays her, is a Yalie as well. Thus, I think it’s safe to consider Mellie a Yalie for the purposes of this article.

Winner: Mellie Grant, for being sharp, loyal and a fighter, unlike her wuss of a husband, Fitz.

 

Blonde Underdogs

Elle Woods (H) v. Quinn Fabray (Y)

Strangely, I’m not sure who I prefer. Back when I was a hardcore Gleek (which seems like eons ago), Quinn, played by Diana Agron, was my favorite from “Glee.” For a while, she was seriously underused. But, after audiences got tired of hearing Rachel belt her face off and seeing Finn (RIP) stumble awkwardly all over the stage, the writers finally took the hint and put in some more Quinn. Her rise in the show arguably coincided with the show’s exponential increase in quality and popularity. She not only contributed musical diversity with her light and sweet voice, but her time in the spotlight, and the darker plotline that came with it, also made “Glee” thematically more meaningful. Unfortunately, her strange rebellion, coming right before her admission into Yale, was one of later changes in the show that alienated me and many viewers.

Elle Woods, the unlikely Harvard Law student from “Legally Blonde,” challenges both the prosecution and the patriarchy with her impeccable courtroom demeanor and her jaw-dropping, eye-opening and neck-turning “Bend and Snap.” Personally, I still think this is Reese Witherspoon’s best performance. She beautifies and pinkifies Harvard Law without missing a beat. Despite her initial ditziness, Ms. Woods rises above expectation and does the impossible: she makes Harvard seem like a fun place to be.

Winner: Elle Woods. Quinn can sing, but so can Elle in the stage adaptation of “Legally Blonde”!

 

Classes ’06 and ’07

Mark Zuckerberg (H) v. Rory Gilmore (Y)

I know Mark Zuckerberg is a real person. Who cares? His ego — especially as it’s portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” — is unreal.  Going off of the movie, Mark Zuckerberg is this reclusive, backstabbing and entitled anti-hero whose pursuit of power — strangely, as a guise for popularity — drives all of his friends away. Eisenberg tries to lend some humanity to the role, and Facebook IS awesome, but here’s the unavoidable truth — Zuckerberg is the embodiment of how Cantabs put psets before people.

And then there was Rory. Like Zuckerberg, Rory was born in ’84, which means that she likely would have crossed paths with fictional Mark at the Game. But Rory, played by Alexis Bledel, would have actually gone to tailgates with her gorgeous boytoy Logan while Zuckerberg, sweatshirted and straight-browed, would have creeped from place to place like a zombie. Rory might even have covered the Game for the Yale Daily News, aka the greatest publication in the world.

Winner: Rory Gilmore. It was unfair to even compare the two. Maybe Paris and Zuckerberg could make it work, though.

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