Sarah Lawrence in Pop Culture

The Star Wars Connection

There are more connections between Sarah Lawrence and the Star Wars franchise (four) than there are Alderaans left in a galaxy far, far away (zero). The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams graduated from Sarah Lawrence in 1988; star Carrie Fisher also attended. Director and screenwriter Brian De Palma MA '64 helped write the opening crawl of the first Star Wars film. And George Lucas has often discussed the influence of mythologist Joseph Campbell, who taught at the College for 38 years, on the creation of Star Wars. After the release of the first film, Lucas often said that the story was shaped in part by the ideas in Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces

10 Things I Hate About You

In the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, a quasi-adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, high school senior Kat Stratford desperately wants to attend Sarah Lawrence College. Despite her father's wish for her to stay closer to home, at the end of the movie she is accepted to Sarah Lawrence and her father gives his blessing to attend.

Twist: Actress Larisa Oleynik, who plays Kat's younger sister Bianca in the film, went on to attend Sarah Lawrence in real life and graduated in 2004. She was quoted in entertainment magazines as saying that attending Sarah Lawrence was "the best decision I've made."

The Notebook

In the 2004 movie adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' bestselling novel The Notebook, main character Allie Hamilton, portrayed by Rachel McAdams, leaves home to attend Sarah Lawrence College.

Other films featuring characters who went to Sarah Lawrence:

  • Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)
  • Enough Said (2013)
  • Motherhood (2009)
  • Untitled (2009)
  • Broken English (2007)
  • American Psycho (2000)
    Twist: The character Elizabeth was played by Guinevere Turner '90, who also became a member of the faculty
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)
  • The Hotel New Hampshire (1984)
  • Baby It's You (1983)
  • A Face in the Crowd (1957)

The Princess Diaries

In The Princess Diaries, Volume X: Forever Princess, the final installment in author Meg Cabot's successful Princess Diaries series, main character Mia Thermopolis is accepted to and attends Sarah Lawrence College. 

Twist: In the 2001 movie version of The Princess Diaries, Mia is portrayed by actress Anne Hathaway. In real life, Anne's younger brother is a Sarah Lawrence alumnus.

Other books that name drop Sarah Lawrence:

  • Mad Dog House by Mark Rubinstein
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • Jane by April Lindner
  • Man in the Dark by Paul Auster
  • American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
  • A Nest of Ninnies by John Ashbery and James Schuyler
  • The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille
  • The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  • Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  • Eremita a Parigi: Pagine Autobiografiche by Italo Calvino

Entourage

In the HBO series Entourage, the character Lloyd, agent Ari Gold's assistant, holds a degree from Sarah Lawrence College.

Twist: The character of Hollywood super-agent Ari Gold is based on real-life agent Ari Emanuel, who is the brother of Chicago mayor and Sarah Lawrence alumnus Rahm Emanuel '81.

Other TV shows featuring characters who went to Sarah Lawrence:

  • Red Oaks (Skye Getty)
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Charles Boyle)
  • Gossip Girl (Eric van der Woodsen)
  • Will & Grace (Karen Walker)
  • House (Dr. Remy Hadley)
  • Mad Men (Bobbie Barrett's daughter)

Gossip Girl

In the CW television series Gossip Girl, main character Blair Waldorf tries unsuccessfully to gain admission to Sarah Lawrence. In season four, Eric van der Woodsen has better luck, and announces he's headed to Sarah Lawrence College in the fall.

Twist: Gossip Girl is produced by Alloy Entertainment, of which Leslie Morgenstein ’89 is CEO and Josh Bank '91 is Executive Vice President.

Other TV shows that have name dropped Sarah Lawrence:

  • Law & Order: SVU
  • NTSF:SD:SUV
  • Melissa & Joey
  • The Newsroom
  • Cold Case
  • Castle
  • Blue Bloods
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Saturday Night Live
  • The Simpsons
  • The Game
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Everwood
  • Frasier
  • Dawson's Creek
  • Head of the Class
  • Too Close for Comfort

Jeopardy!

Sarah Lawrence College has been a question (or answer) on the hit game show Jeopardy! 11 times so far. The most recent occurrence was on September 10, 2015.