‘Probably Flunking:’ Four Colgate Features in TV Worlds

Since childhood, Generation Z has been accustomed to seeing the same group of American universities be central to any storyline about college. From Hannah Montana’s series finale reunion with Lily at Stanford, to Good Luck Charlie’s Teddy interviewing with Yale and the pile of extremely-selective acceptances earned by characters in Netflix programs like The Kissing Booth, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Riverdale, it feels as if only a single-digit number of colleges exist in the fictional realm. Therefore, members of the Colgate University community who tuned into Netflix’s newly released drama, Partner Track, were in for a surprise when the University was mentioned in the show’s pilot episode. What follows is a summary of this and three other Colgate appearances on the small screen:


“Material Adverse Change” Partner Track – S1, E1 (2022)

Within its first five minutes, Partner Track establishes a strong female lead, Rachel Friedman (Alexandra Turshen), as an attorney who will not tolerate disrespect in the workplace. “Get your feet off the goddamn desk. She graduated number two in her class at Harvard Law, while your ass was probably flunking Colgate. Show some freakin’ respect,” Rachel says, reminding an underperforming paralegal that, unlike the attorneys, he does not hold a graduate degree. Why Colgate was singled out among other undergraduate institutions for this diss remains a mystery. Given that many employers routinely look to hire Colgate graduates, we’ll assume that whatever personal experience this writer must have had was out of the ordinary. 


“Atlantic City”  Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens – S1, E2 (2020)

In this episode, Nora (Awkwafina) finds fleeting success winning a huge number of blackjack chips during a trip to Atlantic City, before being disqualified by the casino for counting cards. In one scene from Nora’s highlight reel, she gives some of her loot to a pair of prospective Colgate parents at her table. “That is Sadie’s first semester at Colgate. And that is your first semester on an Alaskan cruise ship of your choice because I want you to love you. And tell Sadie she better stay off Twitter,” Nora says. With a Colgate first-year’s billable expenses for Fall 2022 carrying a price tag of $40,198, this serves as a testament to the large scope of Nora’s winnings before she leaves the match completely empty-handed.


“Clean Cut” The Rookie – S2, E8 (2019)

Here, police officers on duty, Grey (Richard T. Jones) and Harper (Mekia Cox), discuss Grey’s daughter’s admission to Cornell University, which Grey believes is too far from the show’s setting of Los Angeles. Overhearing this, Stephanie (Chloe Bridges), whom the pair has just arrested for drunk driving, chimes into the conversation. “I went to Cornell. Or was it Colgate?” asks Stephanie. Though the two institutions are both private, located in upstate New York, highly selective and NCAA Division 1, they are undeniably distinguishable, conveying that the accused Stephanie is certainly not in a proper state of mind.


“The Tiffany Experience” – S.W.A.T. – S2, E8 (2018)

This is perhaps the most explainable reference to Colgate, given that S.W.A.T. was created by Shawn Ryan P’22. It sees Dr. Wendy Hughes (Cathy Cahlin Ryan), reflecting on her twin daughters’ recent move to colleges far from the series’ setting in Los Angeles. “Middlebury and Colgate. So far away. I really miss them,” Wendy says. Also an homage to Shawn Ryan’s alma mater Middlebury College, the line is a nod to all Colgate parents who may be a plane ride or several away from Hamilton.