Like many other intelligent Americans, I have accepted Modern Family as the new great sitcom — a show that manages to combine the some of the best qualities of Arrested Development with bits that make the central family appealing enough not only to avoid cancellation but to actually draw good ratings. (Good on you, Modern Family!) And because I often root for underdogs, I find myself especially enjoying Julie Bowen’s performance as Claire — the show’s Marge Simpson, the put-upon housewife who gets opportunities to be truly funny when she’s not being a nag or a drudge.
But though I love the show, I didn’t realize until late in this first season that Bowen played a prominent role on another major ABC show, Lost, as Jack Shepherd’s patient then wife then ex-wife. Vaguely similar in that both Lost’s Sara Shepherd and Modern Family’s Claire Dunphy are both underappreciated stay-at-home wives, the characters go drastically different directions, with Claire quietly venting her rage with sarcasm and passive aggression and with Sara leaving Jack, even after he successfully operated on her spine and allowed her to walk again. (And also Sara may have had an affair with Jack’s dad? Or not? … Oh, fuck it.) Anyway, I was impressed that Bowen could pull off high drama and subtle comedy so well — and surprised that a Lost obsessive such as myself didn’t immediately identify Claire as a Lost alum.
Then I realized that my time with Julie Bowen goes all the way back to eighth grade, with Happy Gilmore, in which Bowen played Adam Sandler’s love interest.
Yup, she got a better haircut and became a little less round in the face, but that’s her in that unflattering golf sweater.
When I checked the IMDb page for Happy Gilmore, I was reminded that Bowen’s character’s name in this movie was Virginia Venit. Which is interesting because the love interest in the previous Adam Sandler movie, Billy Madison, is named Veronica Vaughn — as in the immortal line “Veronica Vaughn. So hot. Want to touch the heiney.”
For some weird reason, I like characters with double initials. And because both Happy and Billy were written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy, I have to wonder why they’d give similar names to the movies’ love interests. They did to later ones too — Fairuza Balk played Vicki Vallencourt in The Waterboy and Particia Arquette plays Valerie Veran in Little Nicky.
But why double “V”? Am I underestimating Adam Sandler’s level of maturity by guessing that the “V” could stand for that certain thing that female love interests have that also happens to start with that letter?