Screen: ABC

Is The Bachelorette's Ian Thomson The Most Embarrassing TV Princetonian Ever?

In the solar system of cringeworthy Tigers, someone's got to be Uranus. Sarah D. Bunting '94 made a list.

Last week's The Bachelorette ended with Ian Thomson -- who, let us remember, went on this program voluntarily -- declaring himself too good for everything about the proceedings: the fart and poop jokes and "the movie quotes" the other men in the house enjoy, and the shallow, slutty Kaitlyn herself, who in addition to her utter failure to slink, broken by Chris Soules, into Ian's arms without so much as a sidelong glance at the other Bachelors is "not half as hot as [his] ex-girlfriend" in the first place. That's a pretty heady brew of dismissiveness given that the same episode saw Ian -- who in his everyday life does not sit in a book-lined study contemplating the mysteries and complications of life, but is an executive recruiter -- wearing the following attire, which is about as penetrating a cultural exploration as an Epcot Center gift shop:

Photo: Felicia Graham / ABC

Photo: Felicia Graham / ABC

But as suitor meltdowns go, it's not that notable...except that he dragged Princeton into it. You see, Ian is a Princeton graduate, the kind of Princeton graduate who does believe the diploma makes him better than other people...the kind who prompts the rest of us, when asked where we went to uni, to mumble a vague "in New Jersey" and change the subject, because he's a hashtag-classic-Princeton embarrassment. I'd like to tell you he's not typical of the genre, but he is.

I'd also like to tell you Ian's the worst Old Nassau has to offer; alas, he isn't even close, at least as far as this politically progressive cultural critic is concerned. The campus center is named after the Frists -- yeah, "those" Frists -- and for every Michelle Obama or Ethan Coen, there's a Lyle Menendez or a Donald Rumsfeld. Remember when the media used to run that photo of Rummy in his wrestling singlet all the time? It's enough to make you get a Scarlet Knights tattoo. On your face.

As far as television goes, does Ian have a case for the worst small-screen Tiger of all time? We won't know for sure until tonight's "exciting" conclusion to his bullshitty slut-shaming meltdown, but here's where Ian "Where's The Pee?" Thomson ranks in a list of legendary TV Tigers, real and imagined. (An asterisk denotes a fictional character.)

  1. *Sam Seaborn, The West Wing
    The Gilbert & Sullivan Society thing is...not great, but: Sorkin, what can you do.
  2. David Duchovny
    Princeton's library system keeps a bound copy of every senior thesis in Mudd Library; 20 years ago, you could go and read any one you wanted. Once The X-Files really took off, stealing Duchovny's turned into a perennial frat-hazing to-do. Uh, allegedly.
  3. *Leonard Hofstadter, The Big Bang Theory
    No objection.
  4. Brooke Shields
    I've always liked her. The eyelash-regrowth ad spots are a bit of a disappointment, though, and Suddenly Susan was not a good show.
  5. *Dr. Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
    Boy, we'd love to claim Mindy Kaling. Lahiri is kind of an asshole, and not necessarily the Princeton strain, either, exactly -- but we've been accused of far worse (and worse dressed).
  6. *Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock
    Attended Princeton on an Avery Blaine Handsomeness scholarship. Written as an ass, and not inaccurately of the genre, but harmless.
  7. Wentworth Miller


    ...Hee. I wish he and his Blue Steel expression"s" would get another regular primetime gig; I liked him in that SVU episode. I am not a crackpot.

  8. Josh Berman, creator of Drop Dead Diva
    No objection.
  9. Dean Cain, Beverly Hills, 90210
    ...Fine, fine, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman is his most prestigious gig, but I still love his "Reek" on 90210, and the character's unforgivable naïveté in regards to Brenda's "Fronch" "accent" should detract from Cain's foxiness in the role, but somehow does not. That white henley! ...Excuse me. Anyhow: he's come down a bit in the world in the last decade or so (10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty host, anyone?) but hasn't sunk to the level of embarrassment. Yet.
  10. The Princeton Footnotes, The Sing-Off
    I've never watched the show. Relatively unobjectionable in my memory, though the Footnotes and the dozens of other a cappella groups on campus congregated at building junctures on weekend nights for "arch sings," forcing those of us who just wanted to go to the Street and drink beer to walk the long way while muttering, "Step away from James Brown, Topher."
  11. *Sondra Huxtable and her husband Elvin, The Cosby Show
    They'll probably send me back to the mailroom for this, but I've never seen a full episode of The Cosby Show, and given recent revelations about its patriarch IRL, I'm uninclined to start. The internet informs me that Clair Huxtable had to challenge Elvin on his sexist crap, so I guess someone in the writers' room knew what was up.
  12. Tom Ritchie, Temptation Island
    Remember Temptation Island? Remember when we thought the reality genre couldn't possibly sink any lower than that garbage? Were we ever so young? I knew Ritchie vaguely, I think; had a couple classes with him, maybe? Not the classmate I would have predicted ending up on that show, if memory serves, which, given the volume of Meisterbrau also in the conversation, it often does not.
  13. *Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire
    Sent to Princeton by Nucky for the purposes of "finishing" him as a future high-ranking operative, Jimmy didn't get a degree -- possibly because his mother kept "distracting" him from his studies. [shudder]
  14. *President Charles Logan, 24
    One of the all-time-great "duh-nality of evil" performances by Gregory Itzin. Logan majored in did Ian.
  15. David E. Kelley
    Of all the series-creator Davids in the world, we get this one. Figures.
  16. Ian

  17. Lyle Menendez
    Both brothers grew up in the town of Princeton and attended Princeton Day; Lyle started at the university, but didn't graduate, obvs, and he'd already gotten a timeout for honor-code violations before teaming up with brother Erik to kill his parents, but 1) the university's been claiming F. Scott Fitzgerald for nearly a century despite his not taking a degree either, and 2) the Menendez trial put Court TV on the map and likely paved the way for the saturation coverage of the OJ Simpson case we all had to deal with the following year. Also spawned a couple of unintentionally hilarious TV movies -- one of which featured the second most notorious wig snatch in TV history -- and an SNL parody starring John Malkovich.
h/t to my esteemed colleague/fellow grad John Ramos for research aids


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