With the recent premiere of the Hulu original series, Resident Advisors, I got to thinking about how college is depicted in movies and television. It's something I think about often now working on campus and there are some very stark portrayals in different shows and films. Some I am a fan of, others I am not.
Some of my favorite depictions of college I know of out there are Undeclared, Community, Felicity, Accepted, Veronica Mars, Pitch Perfect, A Different World, and even Monsters University. They all are positive, fun, and realistic while avoiding the common pitfalls of shallowness that a lot of college movies fall into with showcasing parties, alcohol, drugs, sex, and shenanigans. While these are elements of all our stories of how we find ourselves and figure out who we are, they aren't the entirety of it. While I may be projecting some of my own experience here, I feel as though most people can agree with me that there is much more to college than just these things. While movies like Van Wilder or Old School may have a small glimmer of a positive takeaway, the way they convey their message is not something I can wholeheartedly endorse as indicative of the college experience.
I appreciate that most mainstream movies and television shows currently have veered away from these shallow portrayals of college (especially as this type of irresponsible behavior has been highlighted in the media lately). Resident Advisors feels like it is almost there (Amma Marfo contextualizes the show great on her blog) but we are still hurting for a great modern depiction of college life, especially as we are becoming ever more scrutinized.
I'm sure I'm forgetting about some great movies about college or just having to do with the college environment. It would take too long to list everything I've enjoyed for different reasons that have to do with college life. I just find things like this fascinating since what we put on screen can be directly connected to our common beliefs. The historical context in which we make any sort of media influences it greatly. Just like sci-fi from any given decade; their view of the future correlates to the issues and problems they had at the time.
I encourage you to watch, learn, and share from all the different portrayals of college life out there in movies and television. They can educate you on how our work and institutions are perceived, and you'll definitely have fun while you do it!