Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore in "Gilmore Girls" Season 3, Episode 22. Courtesy Netflix

Graduation day according to 5 TV episodes

Life imitates art, and what could be a purer form of art than the classic TV graduation episode? As the Tufts Class of 2018 passes this milestone, let’s look back at some of our TV favorites who also donned caps and gowns and see what lessons they have to bestow on us.

“The Vampire Diaries”: Season 4, Episode 23 “Graduation”

Okay, this might not be the typical graduation experience. As the Mystic Falls teens prepare to graduate from high school (for the 17th time, in the case of brooding vampire hunk Stefan), they also must deal with a horde of resurrected ghosts. For some, this means spending time with lost loved ones right before this momentous occasion; for others, it means shifting priorities to quell a ghost-driven revolt. Despite this, along with the fact that it seems like none of these kids were ever actually in class, everyone manages to make it to the ceremony and receive their diploma.

Takeaways:

  • It’s important to make time for your school friends even amid exterior drama, like working to secure that post-grad job or keeping the angry ghosts at bay.
  • Don’t be afraid to make moves! Elena told Damon she was in love with him, and they shared a lovely, vampy make-out. It could be now or never.
  • Pre-ceremony group hugs are mandatory — even for you, Stefan!
  • If you have super-human strength, graduation caps double as decapitators.

“Gilmore Girls”: Season 3, Episode 22 “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio”

Rory Gilmore, angel of Stars Hollow, has made it through three grueling years at Chilton, and as valedictorian, no less. As valedictorian, she chose to give a cheesy, self-centered speech, but her kind words about her mom, Lorelai, were touching nonetheless.

Takeaways:

  • You can overcome anything – Rory became valedictorian even after missing that exam because she hit a deer. (Sorry, the deer hit HER.)
  • Make sure you are actually capable of walking around with that big backpack you bought for your [insert exotic post-grad backpacking trip here].
  • Nine times out of 10, singing in your graduation speech is not the answer, even if you were on Broadway like Brad.
  • Paris looking around at her fellow classmates and commenting, “I swear, I do not recognize half of these people,” is relatable content.

“Gilmore Girls”: Season 7, Episode 21 “Unto the Breach”

“Gilmore Girls” did double duty with the graduation episodes (triple if you count Lorelai’s business school graduation). Four seasons later, everyone gathered once again to see Rory collect a diploma, this time at the fake campus trying to pass for Yale. This graduation was nothing too out of the ordinary: champagne toasts, obligatory family photos and Rory’s lack of employment after four years of liberal arts education.

Takeaways:

  • Once again, Rory proved that no obstacle can stand in the way of achieving your goals – not even stealing a yacht. Maybe still don’t do that, though.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself to make life-altering decisions just because it seems like we’re supposed to have everything figured out by now. We’re not! Take what Rory said as she rejected Logan’s marriage proposal: “There are just a lot of things right now in my life that are undecided, and that used to scare me, but now I kind of like the idea that it’s just all kind of wide open.” Deep breaths, everyone.
  • Make sure you spackle the holes in your apartment walls so your landlord doesn’t withhold your security deposit. You’ll thank Paris later.
  • It is inevitable that people will complain about the choice of commencement speaker – Richard Gilmore is not alone in this.

“Glee”: Season 3, Episode 22 “Goodbye”

The Glee kids graduated the only way they know how – with singing, theatrics and tears. The graduation ceremony naturally doubled as a concert, with a runway instead of the traditional pomp and circumstance processional. Kurt did a high kick; Finn and Rachel made out. It was pretty much business as usual at McKinley High.

Takeaways:

  • It’s totally possible to play a drum kit and walk across the stage to accept your diploma simultaneously.
  • Rolled-up diplomas double perfectly as fake microphones.
  • In the words of Springsteen, as sung by Puck and Finn: “Glory days, well they’ll pass you by, glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye.” Are we old or something?

“The O.C.”: Season 3, Episode 25 “The Graduates”

Candid photo montage? Check. A speech from the uptight-but-ultimately-lovable valedictorian? Check. Cheesy Sandy Cohen dad speech? Check. This is a classic graduation set-up – that is, until the shocking car crash at the end of the episode that killed off one of the core four. (No spoilers, but this episode aired over a decade ago, so chill.) Still, before the devastating last moments, this episode was a perfect portrait of the optimism for the future that comes with graduation day.

Takeaways:

  • Nothing says graduation like some festive leis. Who says graduation ceremonies can’t have themes?
  • Lean into the obligatory cap-and-gown photo shoot. These Harbor kids are definitely wishing Instagram existed back in 2006. Nothing racks up likes like a candid friendship shot.
  • In the words of Taylor (in Latin first, naturally): Don’t let the bastards get you down.
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