College is a major part of our lives, and in the age of representation and storytelling, it is easy to make college campuses the setting for TV shows and movies. There is a wide range of this media being produced and placed on streaming platforms, but how accurate is it?
Community (Hulu)- Set at Greendale Community College, Community focuses on a misfit group of students who form a study group for their Spanish class. It shows a very diverse student body as well as diversity among the staff. While this show is accurate in its studying and classroom scenarios, it is mainly based on its comedic value.
Step Sisters (Netflix)- This movie is about a white sorority that needs a reputation change as soon as possible. Jamilah, a member of a black sorority on campus, is tasked with turning the other girls around. Stepping is a sacred practice of black sororities and fraternities, but that is the only way she knows to teach the girls discipline. Step Sisters shows a more accurate side of sororities, focusing on teamwork and sisterhood while still knowing how to have a good time. I wouldn’t say it’s completely accurate, but it has a fair amount of reality in it.
Drumline (HBO Max)- Marching bands are a major part of college gameday, and Drumline focuses on just that. Devon is a drum player who receives a prestigious scholarship and position in the marching band that lets his invitation to the band go straight to his head. This movie is more about character development through being in an organized group than accuracy. This is evident through Devon’s demeanor change from the beginning to the end of the movie. While there isn’t a lot of accuracy about what goes on during training, practices, games and competitions, the movie shares a great message about teamwork, forgiveness and the willingness to change.
We Are Marshall (HBO Max)- This devastating true story shows the aftermath regarding the Marshall University football team’s future after the catastrophic plane crash in 1970 that had no survivors. The movie centers around changing the rules and decisions to keep or suspend the football team because they would have to rebuild entirely. While this movie centers on a major tragedy, it is the most accurate college movie or TV show I’ve seen. We Are Marshall is a movie that holds a special place in this Pirate’s heart. The significance of this movie in regard to ECU is the plane crash that this movie follows. The crash happened while the Marshall University football team was travelling back to West Virginia after playing against the Pirates, and we now honor them when we compete against them.
Greek (Hulu)- It’s no surprise that this show is based on the culture of sororities and fraternities. Greek shows the exaggerated life of being involved in these organizations. From rush to hazing to partying, Greek shows what everyone expects of Greek life. While the components of the show are accurate, the way they play out is anything but reality. The most accurate part of the show that I’ve seen is when one of the characters oversleeps and forgets about his homework for a 9:00 a.m. class because he was at a party.
Legally Blonde (Netflix)- This movie is iconic. Elle Woods is your stereotypical girly sorority girl, but she has something to prove. While this movie is a comedy, it is surprisingly accurate. Elle proves that she’s not just a “dumb blonde” by getting accepted to Harvard Law and graduating at the top of her class. Legally Blonde accurately depicts the hard work necessary to be successful in law school.
Neighbors (Hulu-Premium subscription)- When a college fraternity moves in next door to a small family, things can get a little crazy. A set of parents get to relive their party days with their “frat bro” neighbors. While this movie doesn’t focus a lot on other aspects of college, it does show the party scene of Greek life. It showcases the insanity of living next door to a fraternity and efforts to shut it down, but there is not much accuracy of college life other than the party scene. Neighbors definitely is more angled to comedy with a dash of college life.
Overall, college movies and TV shows are not very accurate. They often use college as a base for their comedic script to make it somewhat relatable to college-aged people. The great thing about the lack of accuracy is that it often isn’t what people look for when figuring out what to watch. I do enjoy every title I have listed, and it is only a short list of college-based media. If it makes you laugh or is an enjoyable show to watch, I wouldn’t stress too much over how accurate it is to a real college experience.