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Back to School

September 20, 2012 — 14 Comments

September. Weather cooler, pants longer, days shorter and TV better. There is a shift in the air, and perhaps no more pronounced than in the grand lecture halls and dingy dorm rooms on college campuses all across the globe. Earlier this month, millions of students returned to the college life, trading their crappy summer jobs for crappy 8:00am classes. Some ready to learn, some ready to party, and some ready for both. While everyone feels this shift, I’m observing it at close distance. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a graphic designer at a university, and so I can’t help but relive my own college memories at times like this. Sure, I’ve wandered into the realm of academic nostalgia before on the blog, but September also brings the pangs for the social joys of college life. You know: cheap Corona nights, dorm pranks, crushes that last for approximately one psychology class.

Since most of you don’t find yourselves surrounded by memories off ye ol’ college days, I thought I’d pillage Julie’s College of Pop-Cultural Knowledge once more and let TV do some reminiscing for us. And let’s be honest: TV life is always way more fun than real life.

Always one to dress for the occasion, I’ve prepared for this lecture with some recently thrifted college fashion: this studious vintage mini, a collared shirt, and a chunky belt. I’ve put them with my not-thrifted Oxfords and a bag big enough to hold all the books I read spark notes for. Even if you’re years and miles away from your college days, these shows are bound to make you long for the college experiences you actually had, and the ones you wish you had. Some of them are shows, some just episodes, all fantastically fun portrayals of life within the the post-secondary universe.

Oh gosh, I’ve professed my love for this show on more than one occasion. But any self-respecting list maker (that’s a thing, right?) couldn’t start a college list without it. While this show has veered into broader territory in its later seasons, season 1 is the most delightful look at community college cliches ever. The joys of running the school newspaper, core classes that make your brain cry, electives that no school actually offers, but should. It’s all gold. Plus, I think we can all agree that paintball wars should indeed be mandatory at every university.

This show could quite actually be called the opposite of Community. It takes college so seriously. But still, it’s full of glorious young-intellectual angst. It could also be credited with cementing a classic TV rule: that all dorms are SO MUCH NICER than any actual dorm in real life. Extra credit: they taught me how to say “hey“.

The Simpsons: Homer Goes to College
If I need to explain why this episode is classic, I don’t think you should be reading my blog. But in case I do, here you go: Here and here.

Undeclared is to college what Freaks and Geeks is to high school: An awesome, Judd Aptow creation that was tragically cancelled before it’s time. My brief affair with this show began out of the same motivation that got dudes watching 24 – “It’s that kid from Popular Mechanics for Kids!“.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This isn’t a show about college, of course, but two fantastic college episodes are enough to get it on the list. Buffy and the gang would eventually do what most teen shows do: stop going to college after a few months because it’s just too hard to keep it interesting. But two episodes in Buffy Season 4 are some of my favourite bits of college-themed TV. Firstly, episode 4.1 has Buffy completely intimated and lost in her new university surroundings. She even does the classic walk into the wrong classroom and don’t realize it until it’s too late. This wins because I TOTALLY DID THAT. The second must-watch episode is the one with Buffy’s roommate. She labels her food, listens to Cher on repeat, and irons her jeans. Therefore, she’s an evil demon. We’ve all been there in some fashion, right?

I could expand this list to movie territory, but then I’d have to reveal to all of you I haven’t seen Animal House, and I just haven’t worked up a decent enough excuse for that yet. I have seen Old School though, so that’s got to count for something.

If I do ever get around to a Top 5 College Movies list, I have an anecdote ready to go for The Social Network. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the movie, but I did have the privilege of being in college when Facebook launched as a a new, exclusive college thing. At one point, I made the mistake of inviting everyone in my “network” to our Halloween party, and all four of my housemates did the same. The next thing you know, our house is so packed I thought it might explode, our lawn is torn up with tire tracks, a ninja turtle is puking in the hallway, and my housemate and I are outside dealing with a spontaneous visit from the landlord. We did our best to convince him of our upstanding citizenship, while dressed as a vampire and a cheerleader, respectively. Nothing says “responsible” like pom poms and a cape.

And as hard as I’m trying for a college look today, that one will always take the cake. A TV moment if ever I’ve lived one. Give me an “A!”

Mirror Mirror

June 30, 2012 — 29 Comments

Does this outfit look a little familiar? The shirt is from here, but that’s not what I’m referring to. Let’s break this down piece by piece: I’m wearing a pleated skirt, some gladiator sandals, a high-necked shirt, and a skinny belt. And it all came from the thrift store. Hmmm. On paper, that’s the exact same description I’d use to describe this outfit from not two posts ago.

Pleats, sandals, hair down, it’s all the same!…But is it? Everything I wore in that post was light, fresh, and cheery. In this outfit, the basic elements are the same, except it’s, well, dark. White is black, gold is silver, and cotton is lace. Even my seafoam nails have been traded in for a dark violet shade. Ladies and gentlemen, this can only mean one thing: I’ve tapped into an alternate universe and channelled my evil doppelgänger.

Well, maybe not. But I am going to assume that if I did have an evil twin and my own comic book (or soap opera), she’d look just like this. If TV has taught us anything, we can safely assume that somewhere out there, we each have a look-a-like, wandering around town, undoubtedly doing very bad things. In mythic doppelgänger lore, the evil twin ususally gets himself a goatee. Wikipedia told me that this originated from an episode of Star Trek in which Spock and Kirk encounter their evil mirror counterparts. Mirror-Spock rocks a badass goatee to compliment his most-excellent eyebrows. Modern-day geeks like myself witnessed this phenomenon at work through the introduction of Evil Troy and Evil Aaaabed on Community. Since I lack the ability to grow facial hair, I’m adding another item to the footnotes on doppelgänger lore:  I declare that evil twin girls get bangs instead of goatees. Makes sense, right?

Doppelgängers have permeated every corner of pop culture, and they show up in just about every show I love. How I Met Your Mother? Doppelgängers. Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Doppelgängers. Passions? Doppelgängers. Haha! Just kidding (about the love, not the doppelgängers). Man, that show was bananas.

Anyways, because I am a gigantor Buffy nerd, I have to grant Buffy particular doppelgänger dues. (Plus I’m doing the Buffy ReWatch! You should too!) There are all sorts of allusions to evil manifestations and dark timelines in Buffy. In particular, the episodes “The Wish” and “Doppelgängland” introduce us to alternate, evil vampy versions of our favourite characters. So, if this isn’t my evil twin coming out, it’s definitely what I’d look like as a souless vampire. Except maybe with more leather. Plus, If I did go vamp, I wouldn’t have to worry about that pastier-than-average skin I’ve inherited. Score!

This is the point in the post when I realize that I’ve just referenced Star Trek, Community, and Buffy in a single post, thus outing me as a 20-something woman with the mind of teenaged sci-fi dork. Oddly enough, I’m totally OK with that – on to the next one!

To close this double-dipping off, let’s tip our hats to Larry David. Who can forget that episode of Seinfeld when Elaine meets the doppelgänger versions of Jerry, George, and Kramer? Except in typical Seinfeldian fashion, this plot device is more of a trope than a cliché, as it’s revealed that Bizarro Jerry and his friends are actually far better, more ethical people than the original gang. Bizarro Kramer brings groceries!

So, let’s flesh this out a bit: if Original Julie loves cats and cheese, Bizarro Julie would love dogs and…whatever the opposite of cheese is. That right there is enough to banish Bizarro Julie (along with the Black Swan, Bizarro Jerry, and Vampire Willow) to the Dark Timeline forever. Silver pleats and purple nails are fun in their own right, but the opposite of cheese? That, my friends, is truly evil.

…It had to be done. Cue maniacal laugh!