Liberal Arts, a 2012 indie film streaming on Netflix, portrays a school exactly the opposite of Penn's over–scheduled, over–worked, over–tired student body. Every day is grassy quads, open intellectual debate, and dining halls for the students of Ohio liberal arts school Kenyon College.
Josh Radnor (more commonly known as How I Met Your Mother's Ted) plays Jesse, an admissions officer in New York City who goes back to his alma mater (Kenyon) for his favorite professor's retirement dinner.
We see the campus as Jesse sees it: fresh and full of youth. During this weekend, he also meets a sophomore named Zibby. The dialogue between the two is smart and snappy, and their chemistry is palpable. Jesse finds in Zibby what he misses so much about his college days: earnestness.
Their ensuing romance is initially sweet but evolves into complicated. This is mostly because Jesse feels just as weird as any of us would about a 35-year-old trying to date a college sophomore. With Kenyon as a backdrop, the two characters figure out why their age difference really is a problem.
The movie has a comedic beating heart among all its romantic drama and soul searching, and a surprising happy ending. But more than anything, it provides a happy respite from Penn's tense cityscape, especially during OCR.
Liberal Arts Escapism By the Numbers:
# of shots of rolling green Ohio fields: 6
# of keggers with the lights on: 2
# of Zac Efron stoned partier cameos: 1
# of tortured genius students: Just 1, compared to Penn's self-proclaimed 10,000
# of professors who care: 2, arguably more than Penn
# of professor-former student one night stands: 1