Twitter reacts to the college admissions scandal

The Twittersphere always explodes when a big story breaks, but the platform was on fire when news of a massive, star-studded college admissions scandal broke. In March 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice accused more than 50 people of making and taking brides to secure admission at prestigious schools. In what prosecutors (via CNN) called "a conspiracy nationwide in scope," parents, collegiate athletics coaches, and school administrators are now facing prison time – and some of those indicted are very rich and famous.

Oscar-nominee Felicity Huffman and Full House actress Lori Loughlin have both been charged with making substantial payments to buy their kids places at the colleges of their choice. Loughlin's daughter, YouTube star Olivia Jade Giannulli, has been making headlines the world over thanks to an old video in which she admits that she doesn't "really care about school." As you can imagine, she's been a hot topic on social media. 

William "Rick" Singer, the alleged mastermind behind the cheating scheme has admitted to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, but the conversation is still raging. Here's how Twitter reacted to the scandal.

James Van Der Beek knows all about the Varsity Blues

Fans of James Van Der Beek will have already noticed the connection between the actor and the FBI investigation into fraudulent college admissions — the bureau named the operation "Varsity Blues," which is the name of the 1999 comedy starring Van Der Beek. He played smart but rebellious quarterback Jonathan "Mox" Moxon in the film, which also featured Jon Voight and the late Paul Walker. When news of the college admissions scandal broke, Van Der Beek took to Twitter to poke fun with a cheeky reference.

"If only there was a succinct turn of phrase these kids could have used to inform their parents they were not desirous of their life path," he said, referring to the Varsity Blues scene in which he tells his overbearing, football-obsessed father: "I don't want your life." The reference went down well with Van Der Beek's followers (who dubbed him James Vandermeme), and it raised a smile among his colleagues in the industry. "This is why Twitter still matters," Emmy-winning director Mark Duplass tweeted. "Thank you." 

Lena Dunham makes light of the scandal

The often controversial Lena Dunham has upset a lot of people with her tone-deaf comments on social media over the years, though she kept it relatively simple when commenting on the college admissions scandal story via Twitter. According to The Guardian, the Girls star ran with the kids of "wealthy" and "influential" individuals while she was in college, so it's no surprise Dunham didn't play the class card. Instead, she took aim at Lori Loughlin, making a mockery of the actress' permanent grin. "All the people involved in this college scam should have gathered their money and started a small elite college where Lori Loughlin teaches a class on smiling," Dunham tweeted

While some of Dunham's followers found her suggestion funny, others accused the actress of not taking the issue seriously enough. "All of those people should pay reparations to all of the Black and Brown parents getting prosecuted for using an address to send their children to a better public school," one irate user replied. "Life and death for kids like mine to get to college."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez draws comparisons with politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made quite the impact on the political stage since emerging as a potential candidate for President of the United States. The Democrat often shares her no-nonsense opinions on the state of the union via Twitter, where she compared the college bribery scandal to America's electoral system. "I guess college admissions isn't that different from elections, where lots of money can buy your spot too," she tweeted. "Also an enviro where those who make it despite the odds are suspected to not have 'earned' it, not truly belong, or assumed to not be able to perform at the same level."

The New York congresswoman was responding to a tweet from journalist Andi Zeisler, who pointed out that rich people buying places in sought-after institutions isn't exactly a new phenomenon. "Perhaps this is a good time to talk about all the perfectly legal ways the wealthy are both allowed and expected to manipulate college-admissions systems while teaching their children to disparage 'affirmative action,'" Zeisler tweeted

Donald Trump Jr. makes fun of Felicity Huffman

At the other end of the political spectrum, the son of U.S. President Donald Trump chimed in. When the college admissions scandal broke, Twitter users immediately started digging through the feeds of those involved to see if they had tweeted anything incriminating. Actress Felicity Huffman (wife of Shameless star and Oscar nominee William H. Macy) is among the most famous people indicted in the case. According to the criminal complaint (via Vulture), she paid a "purported charitable contribution of $15,000 … to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter."

Unfortunately for Huffman, something she said back in 2016 has taken on a whole new meaning since she was implicated. "What are your best 'hacks' for the back-to-school season?" she tweeted. When this tweet was discovered, Twitter roasted the actress hard — one user's "hack" was to "send guys holding a [burlap] sack full of gold coins with a big dollar sign on the side and have them clumsily drop it on University president's desks." Donald Trump Jr. soon got in on the act, replying to Huffman's tweet about back-to-school hacks with: "I'm learning some new ones as we speak. Stay tuned."

Billy Eichner makes some shocking confessions

You can always count on comedian and actor Billy Eichner to offer his opinion on the latest big story via Twitter, and he was on the ball when the college admissions scandal broke. In a series of tweets, the American Horror Story star made some shocking (and, we're assuming, completely made-up) revelations. "Judith Light got me wait listed at Tufts," he tweeted, but he apparently had more to get off his chest. "Look, it's not the biggest problem in the world but I would not have gotten into Dartmouth without Mo'nique," he added.

The jokes kept coming, with countless Twitter users coming forward with hilarious confessions. "My mother was just indicted for bringing rugelach to my audition for the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center's 1996 production of Pippin," YouTuber Randy Rainbow tweeted. "I knew there had to be something," The New York Times best-selling author Carolyn Parkhurst replied. "It's practically impossible to break into the field of political Broadway-based song parodies."

Rob Lowe's son takes pity on poor kids

Unlike Richard Dreyfuss' boy, the son of Hollywood actor Rob Lowe believes he got where he is today on hard work alone. John Owen Lowe took a dig at Olivia Jade and all the other students who allegedly bought their places at their respective schools in a series of tweets, beginning with a picture with his family on his graduation day. "Still proud of this achievement," tweeted Lowe (who attended Stanford University). "Happy for everyone out there who earned their accomplishments… and really sad for those who were never allowed the opportunity."

John Owen, who has followed his famous father into the family business, acknowledged that he had the advantage of a tutor and access to pricey practice test programs, though he insists that he still had to work super hard to get accepted into his college of choice. "College apps were no joke… the amount of stress kids put into that to potentially lose a spot to someone unfairly is horrible," he tweeted. "And to think of them losing their chance at their dream school to someone undeserving is really, really gross," he added.

Jewel Staite wants to play Huffman in the movie adaptation

This investigation is serious business for those directly involved, but the news brought out the silly side of Twitter in the best possible way. Numerous users couldn't help but notice that the whole affair was like something from a made-for-TV movie. When NBC's Tom Winter shared the story on Twitter, he received countless replies, some of them absolutely priceless. "This new Hallmark Channel film is confusing," one user said, while another proposed a TV show: "We could call it Breaking Grad."

As far as Canadian actress Jewel Staite is concerned, the scandal is more suited to the TV movie format — and she's already thrown her hat in the ring for the lead role. "Dibs on playing Felicity Huffman in the Lifetime movie about this mess," the Firefly star said in a tweet that's been retweeted thousands of times. She's clearly joking, but if the retweets keep coming, you never know.

Ben Dreyfuss openly admits he got into college through his famous father

One celeb who doesn't hide the fact that his famous family helped him get into a good college is Ben Dreyfuss, son of Hollywood legend Richard Dreyfuss. "I got into college the old fashioned way: by letting my father's celebrity speak for itself," he tweeted. When news of the scandal broke, Ben apparently contacted his mother to ask if there was any foul play when he was accepted into college. Jeramie Dreyfuss (The Last House on the Left) told her son that he got in on talent alone, but he laughed off that idea. "That's very sweet of you but also not true since I didn't even graduate high school," he said in a private message thread that he later shared in a tweet. "Pretty sure Dad having an Oscar helped me get into Emerson, a college that famously values performing arts celebrities." 

Ben also questioned why actress Lori Loughlin would pay such large sums to get her kid into the University of Southern California. "The idea that the daughter of a Hollywood celebrity would have such a hard time getting into USC of all places that they needed to spend half a million dollars in bribes is so hilarious," he said. "USC isn't even the best school in LA. It would be like bribing your way into NYU. Baby, Columbia is just up the road," he added.

Brian Koppelman advocates for change

Lena Dunham's parents may not have bribed anybody, but it seems as though they cared enough to cover the cost of her tuition fees. The actress liked a tweet by screenwriter and fellow New Yorker Brian Koppelman, who confirmed he'd been bankrolled through college. Koppelman (who has writing credits on Ocean's Thirteen and Runner Runner, a film about a poor college student) admitted that having a "rich and generous" father gave him a huge advantage over other kids, something that he believes needs to change.

"As we are all processing the insane advantage money gave some in the college process, it's worth noting the far greater crime: some folks, like me, graduated with no debt," Koppelman tweeted. "My dad was rich and generous enough to pay. That advantage is incalculable. Gave me so much life choice." In a second tweet, the writer claimed that he probably wouldn't be doing the job he's doing today if he'd been saddled with debts after graduating. "I was able to chase my passions and curiosities partially because I did not have debt to service," he said. "As a country we have to level that playing field."

Tony Posnanski shares his own back to school hacks

Donald Trump Jr. wasn't the only person with a verified Twitter account to take advantage of Huffman's back-to-school hack tweet. He doesn't have anywhere near as many followers as the president's first-born, but journalist Tony Posnanski still has more than 170,000 people following his tweets. Like Don Jr., Posnanski couldn't help but tag Huffman in a sarcastic reply.

"I like to wake my kids up early to get them prepared, have them read some books on the school list, I shop for clothes early, and I take a s***load of cash and pay off people so they can pass their tests," he tweeted. "But getting them up early helps." The memes that followed did not disappoint (Posnanski's audience used everyone from Will Smith and James Corden to the cast of Stranger Things to sum up its feelings) and some users had a few "hacks" of their own to add. "Getting them up early allows you to go watch the person you pay to do hot yoga for you," one user quipped. "Have to make sure they are earning every nickel."