Not as Seen on TV: Greek Life

What the movies tell us to believe about our friends on frat row

By Rachel Kuipers

Over the years, Greek life has grown as a popular topic for television. With not-quite-accurate portrayals in TV shows like “Greek” and movies like “Sydney White”, “Legally Blonde” and more recently “Neighbors”, Greek life has gained a reputation it doesn’t necessarily deserve.

“Though some things are similar like how its set up [as] a system, … many of those movies and shows portray sorority girls as being catty and mean which is not how my experience has been,” said sophomore family science major Dana Kravitz, member of Kappa Alpha Theta.

That’s not the only difference between television Greek life and what it’s really like, Kravitz said. She’s never experienced hazing like that on TV.

Nicole Canney, a sophomore chemistry major in Delta Phi Epsilon, said TV emphasizes negative stereotypes of fraternities and sororities. Canney said one major difference is the amount of work the executive board does, which is beyond anything shown on TV.

In Canney’s experience, people familiar with Greek life didn’t change their opinions of her once she joined, though people not exposed did. “[Someone] I used to talk to actually started harassing me, saying that being a ‘srat girl’ makes me automatically a slut,” she said.

Many of these shows depict members of Greek life as below-average when it comes to kindness as well as intelligence. Members of the popular sororities and fraternities in these shows and movies, such as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde”, spend more time focusing on looks and relationships than school.

Elle eventually finds her calling as a lawyer and realizes there’s more to life than fashion and men, but not until she goes to law school in an effort to win back her ex.

The drama from fraternity feuds and sorority sister drama kept the popular show “Greek” going. One of the main fraternities spent much of their time partying and struggled in school.

Sydney, the main character in the movie “Sydney White”, had to fight to fit in with the sorority her mother was in at school because at first, they didn’t think she was good enough. Once the president realized Sydney was a threat to her status as the “hottest” girl in school and a contender for the guy she liked, she hazed Sydney until eventually kicking her to the curb.

“I think people that are not in Greek life sometimes judge and assume I’m one of those mean or dumb girls or only care about partying, when that’s just not me or my sorority sisters,” said Kravitz. “Those shows don’t ever talk about the philanthropy we do as chapters and as a Greek community, or what we contribute to the school. They don’t ever mention that the Greek GPA is higher [than] the all-school average.”

Like Kravitz, sophomore psychology major Alyssa Irgang, a member of Sigma Delta Tau, said there are some aspects of TV Greek life that are similar to real life experiences but much of it is inaccurate.

“I think sometimes the dynamics of living in a house with a bunch of other girls who all share similar values is pretty similar to how they portray it in ‘Greek’,” said Irgang. “People have their closest friends within the house but at the end of the day we all have similar values and do feel the same closeness [as] say the girls in Zeta Beta Zeta.”

However, she said, some parts of the show are definitely exaggerated,  like the boy drama and extreme pledging.

“It’s hard to generalize a whole group of people when everyone in Greek life is so diverse,” she said.

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