It’s not often that colleges get called out negatively on TV. Usually, writers namedrop the college they attended in passing: “These guys were frat brothers of mine from my time at Northwestern” (a sort of quote from an episode of Andy Richter Controls the Universe); it’s not really an endorsement, but it is a type of plug, I guess the screenplayer writer‘s to hanging one’s diploma on the wall at work. Anyway, aside from some Simpsons jokes making fun of Yale (because there was a time when many of the Simpsons writers had come from Harvard), college namedrops are neutral at worst.
But, when watching tonight’s episode of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip“, the following dialogue was exchanged:
note, this is more of an “I think this is what they said” than a pure transcription
Matthew Perry’s Character: I’ll write you a letter of recommendation.
Bradley Whitford’s Character: Speaking of which, against my better advice, my nephew is applying to Northwestern, and he needs a letter of recommendation, too.
Not that big a deal, I know, but in a way, my non-donating-alumnus status just got a high five from Hollywood! Now, I guess it could be rationalized away by the writers by saying, they were getting at: “there are better such and such programs at some other college than Northwestern,” but I feel like I’m part of higher educational history: The first(?) prime time dis’.
Calling Out Northwestern on National TV gets four-and-a-half stars for being the first negative namedrop of a college, with that 1/2 being deducted for the episode of “Studio 60…” being a perfect example of everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with the show. *note: I don’t really have any negative feelings towards Northwestern or anything like that, but considering how rarely it’s brought up in pop culture, the fact that it was a negative (or pushing towards negative from neutral, at best) mention makes it quite newsworthy.