Spectator USA

Skip to Content

Arts Cinema Dominic Green Education Life

The Oscar goes to Felicity Huffman

The Desperate Housewife is down with a case of the Varsity Blues

September 15, 2019

11:15 AM

15 September 2019

11:15 AM

And the Oscar for Best Actress goes to…Felicity Huffman in College Admissions Scandal!

In this family drama that nauseated audiences everywhere, Huffman plays a desperate housewife with a dark secret. She might present herself like a Lala-leftie, denouncing Donald Trump and telling the dumb masses what to think about the environment, but she’s actually a perfectly sensible parent who knows the college application system is a corrupt farce.

Huffman’s real-life husband William H. Macy, fresh from a deeply convincing performance in the dysfunctional family dramedy Shameless, plays the husband who claims he’s closely involved in parenting and the admissions process, but then claims not to know anything about it when his wife is arrested.

‘Sofia’s going to college,’ Macy says of his older daughter in January 2019, two months before Huffman’s arrest. ‘We’re right now in the thick of college application time, which is so stressful. My daughter Georgia, she’s interested in politics, political science and pursuing that.’

‘I married very, very well,’ Macy tells Men’s Journal a month before Huffman’s arrest. ‘It’s great fun for me to watch Felicity. I love the way she mothers our daughters.’

Sofia, Macy tells Us magazine a week before Huffman’s arrest, ‘goes to LACHSA, the arts high school here, and we’re doing the college tour’.

Macy has been nominated for Best Supporting Male. Richly deserved, because no one who saw College Admissions Scandal came away believing that his character knew anything about Huffman’s criminal activity.

Several scenes from College Admissions Scandal became internet memes — famously the one in which an Ivy League admissions officer tells Huffman and Macy’s characters, ‘All admissions are based on merit.’ They tie him to his chair, beat him savagely with his belt, and then stuff a rolled-up wad of twenties into his mouth as Huffman’s character screams, ‘See the merit in this application?’

I don’t see the merit in sending Huffman to prison for two weeks. She should either be allowed to buy herself out of a stretch, in the same way as she bought herself into trouble in the first place. Or, if you want cruel and unusual, she should be sentenced to take first-year calc at her local state college while wearing the Ivy League inmate’s uniform of flip-flops, stained sweat pants and a t-shirt with burn holes in it.

Huffman might have broken the law, but she’s done nothing that millions of other parents haven’t in their desperation to insert their spoilt and talentless children into the inside lane. In this circumstance, the law, as Charles Dickens and Kanye West say, is an ass.

The corruption of college admissions is so endemic that either the system or the law needs changing. And the corruption of admissions is merely the primer for the deeper corruption of the entire college system.

I know a ‘legacy’ family whose child was rejected by an Ivy League university, then suddenly accepted after the parents and grandparents pulled some strings.

I’ve taught athletes who can barely tie their own shoelaces, let alone write a college paper — and whose academic supervisors have emailed me, telling me to give them a passing grade anyway.

I’ve taught freshmen and women from China and Korea whose parents are paying the full ticket that increasing numbers of American parents can no longer afford. These students had passed a written examination to get into top liberal arts colleges, but as soon as they arrived on the leafy groves of New England academe, they lost the ability to to speak or write a single sentence of English.

College administrators told me that they knew that that professional exam-takers had been hired to take the students’ exams. This, I was told, is standard practice in Korea. So, I was told, was the parental custom of slipping a cash bribe to the teacher to secure a good grade.

Having spent a decade on some of the Northeast’s best-known campuses, I can only conclude that Felicity Huffman’s mistake was to try too hard. She’s not a legacy parent. She’s a middle-class striver who’s made good, and wants to ensure that her children benefit from her hard work. So she did it the wrong way, and got caught.

The colleges will now point to Huffman in her orange jumpsuit as proof that the admissions’ process is fair and clean. But Huffman’s conviction demonstrates the opposite. The applications system is rotten to the core, and Huffman is the fall girl.

Expect the sequel, 2 College 2 Admissions, to hit your screens in a blur of sanctimony next fall.

Dominic Green is Life & Arts Editor of Spectator USA.


Sign up to receive a weekly summary of the best of Spectator USA


Show comments
Close