How old is Jeff Winger? This is a question I've been pondering lately, thanks to the fic I've been working on for the community_bbang. The story spans quite a long period of time, and while knowing exactly when certain events take place isn't really that important, having that sort of information at hand can be helpful when you're trying to work pop-culture references into your story. Would it, for example, make sense to have Jeff quote a line from Aladdin as an eighth grader?
Let's start with the canonical details:
- He had his run-in with Shirley at the age of ten. (3x09, "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism")
- He applied to be part of The Real World: Seattle when he was "like 19" (2x17, "Intro to Political Science")
- He has "over six years of experience as a defense attorney" (greendalecommunitycollege.com)
- He enrolled at Greendale in 2009 (1x01, "Pilot")
It should be noted that the driver license shown in 2x15 gave a birth date of November 20, 1971, which happens to be Joel McHale's actual birthday. Dan Harmon has indicated that despite that, Jeff was not born in 1971. However, 2x10, "Mixology Certification," suggests that Troy and Annie share birth dates with the actors who play them, so I operated under the assumption that this was true of Jeff as well.
The Real World: Seattle premiered on June 16, 1998. Knowing Jeff was "like 19" when he made his audition tape, that suggests that Jeff was born on November 20, 1978. But wait! Reality TV maven fox1013 provided me with some salient details about the production of The Real World, gleaned from Pedro and Me, Judd Winick's outstanding graphic novel about his friendship with his Real World: San Francisco cast mate Pedro Zamora. Winick reveals in the book that he applied in August 1993, got the invitation in January 1994, and moved in February 1994. The season premiere was on June 23, 1994. So if we assume the production schedule for the Seattle season was similar, then Jeff made his audition tape in 1997, meaning he must have been born in 1977, not 1978.
And let me tell you, that date works beautifully with the canonical details. Here's his timeline as I see it, presented in reverse chronological order because it's easier to explain the reasoning that way:
- September 17, 2009: Jeff's first day at Greendale.
- This is the date the pilot aired in the US.
- Late August/early September 2009: Jeff's license to practice law is suspended.
- I'm assuming this happened very shortly before his first day at Greendale; otherwise, why wait until the first day of class to talk to Duncan about getting every answer to every test?
- June 2003: Jeff starts working for Hamish, Hamish & Hamlin.
- I've known my fair share of lawyers, and they live and die by the principle set forth by Bureaucrat 1.0 in the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back:" technically correct is the best kind of correct. So if Jeff said in his profile that he'd been practicing for "more than six years," that means he must have been practicing for less than six-and-a-half years, because if that were the case he'd have said "almost seven years." So if Jeff was suspended in August or September 2009, he must have started at HH&H in 2003, probably within a few weeks of …
- May 2003: Jeff graduates from law school.
- Because the University of Colorado School of Law holds its commencement ceremony in May.
- August 2000: Jeff starts law school.
- Because the University of Colorado School of Law holds new student orientation and begins the Fall Semester in August.
- August 1997: Jeff auditions for The Real World: Seattle.
- See above
- June 1996: Jeff graduates from high school.
- This allows for a four-year gap between high school and law school. When I created my original timeline, which was predicated on the idea that Jeff was born in 1978, there was only a three-year gap, which is not unheard of, but is unusual enough that it might have drawn scrutiny.
- November 25, 1992: Aladdin is released.
June 1992: Jeff graduates from eighth grade.
- So to answer question above: no, no it would not. Dammit.
- December 29, 1990: Annie is born.
- I'm including this because it's relevant to my fic, and also because I'm a shipper and I want to point out that 13 years is not really that big an age difference.
- Summer 1988: Jeff visits Tinkle Town.
- There's no particular reason to assume this took place over the summer, but for the purposes of my story, it does.
- Late August/early September 1983: Jeff starts kindergarten.
- Because his birthday is so late in the year, he wouldn't have started school until he was almost 6. This tracks with the idea that didn't have to put forth much effort in school—he would have been almost a full year older than many of his classmates.
- November 20, 1977: Jeff is born to Doreen and William Winger.
Which means that as of today, Jeff is 34 years, 3 months and 28 days old.