But...Who Are the Dutch?

I was watching an episode of Glee last night, where Sue Sylvester tries to bring down the Glee club by appealing to minorities – including that all-too-underrepresented group of skinny blond cheerleaders. Speaking to (the apparently Dutch) Britney, Sue says “Oh, I know the Dutch are famous for being a cold people but that’s no excuse for treating you like some half-priced hooker in Amsterdam’s famous red-light district.”

Of course anything Jane Lynch says is funny, but I had to laugh extra hard, because whenever the Dutch are mentioned in American pop culture, it never really serves a point, except to be totally random. It’s as if Holland is a mysterious, fictional land that no one in the US really knows anything about, nor (for the most part) really cares about.

30 Rock has a few Dutch references: in one episode, after reading a Snapple cap, Liz says “Did you know Holland is the only country with a national dog?”, and in another, Jack is ordered by GE’s legal team to change the name of its new bite size microwave from ‘BiteNuker’ to ‘Funcooker’, because the former was “highly offensive to the those who speak either French or Dutch. A Franco-Dutchman would pronounce it ‘Bedneuker’,” he explains.

But I think no one beats Seinfeld for allusions to the low lands. Perhaps it’s because the show is quintessential New York – a city with strong Dutch roots. But whether it’s Kramer portraying Dr. van Nostrand, George portraying Art Vandelay or the gang escaping the van Buren boys, the Dutch are certainly represented. In the ‘Calzone’ episode, Elaine sort of dates a guy named Todd Gak; and throughout the show, characters repeatedly ask ‘what kind of name is Gak?’, always concluding ‘it’s Dutch’. But I think the best shout out to Holland is the opening of ‘the Butter Shave’….because it depicts a conversation I’ve literally had with several people (and embarrassingly even with my Dutch boyfriend when we first started dating!). Here you go. And if you know of other funny references, please share…