My So-Called Life

Top 5 reasons why I love My So-Called Life:

1. Angela’s Red Hair

Claire Danes‘ character Angela Chase sported fantastic auburn hair throughout most of the series.  I fell in love with her hair, and I fell in love with her because of it.  Even today, any time I see someone with this hair color, I immediately think of Angela.  I had a fantastic crush on Angela throughout high school (although she was always second in line to Larisa Oleynik‘s character Alex Mack).  Let’s just say, I knew what they were talking about when the Ataris released their song My So-Called Life:

2. Enrique Vasquez (a.k.a. Rickie)

Rickie wasn’t the first gay tv character ever, but he’s certainly the earliest one I can remember (although I was always very suspicious of Balkie Bartokomous…).  I missed the series when it first aired on ABC in 1994-1995, but while it was on heavy rotation on MTV beginning in 1995, I always found Rickie’s sexuality intriguing.  I was 14 years old and had never met a real-life gay person before.  In addition, MSCL was the type of show (along with the Simpsons) that I could only watch when my Mom wasn’t around or she’d make me change the channel. All of this made Rickie’s sexuality seem so scandalous – and I guess that’s sort of the point – the show pointed out the controversy surrounding something that shouldn’t be controversial at all.

Also, because of this:

3. It Just Ends
The entire series is only 19 episodes long, and it just ends with loose ends everywhere.  None of the story lines are resolved, and not in a LOST “we just don’t want to bother filling the plot holes” sort of way.  It’s more of a “nothing in life is ever resolved, so this show shouldn’t be either” sort of way. In the DVD set liner notes, creator Winnie Holzman says:

I would have gotten somebody pregnant.  Sharon’s the obvious choice.  I would have made Angela unable to resist turning to Brian Krakow for advice about her doomed relationship with Jordan Catalano, and I would have split Graham and Patty up, so Patty could fall into a deep depression – the kind where you can’t get out of bed – so that Angela is forced to somehow run the household.  I would have had Rickie move in with Mr. Katimsky… and when Mr. Katimsky is fired for the crime of giving a kid a place to live, I would have forced Patty out of her depression to defend him.

As much as I would have liked to have seen some of these plot lines play out, I’m glad the series didn’t end with all the world’s problems solved.

4. No Stupid Life Lessons
The series didn’t attempt to teach morals or offer advice.  All of the characters were fundamentally flawed – just like real people.  The parents were making poor decisions as much as the teenagers, and there’s no Saved-by-the-Bell moments of enlightenment. (To be fair – the Christmas episode was a little bit too saccharine sweet for my tastes – what with the guitar-playing angel that schools Patty about the meaning of life and all, but I’m willing to let it slide…).

5. Jared Leto

I’ll admit it.  I’m a HUGE Jared Leto fan, and this is where I was first introduced to him.  Even though his character Jordan Catalano was a huge d/b – and even though I suspect Jared Leto is actually a total d/b in real life, too (did y’all know he had a thing with Paris Hilton??? gag!).  Still I liked Requiem for a Dream alot, 30 Seconds to Mars is one of my favorite bands, and this video is def one of my all time faves (for obvious reasons).

So – How about you?  Why do YOU like My So-Called Life?



7 comments to My So-Called Life

  • Booo! This comment section ate up my top 5! I accidentally hit enter twice during the word verification thing and suddenly it disappeared. πŸ™

    I will sum it up with: Angela & Jordan's romance. Total "hot guy goes for the weird chick stuff." Very appealing to me back then!

  • @Amanda – BOOO on blogger. I think I could really identify (like most teenagers) with Angela's frequent bouts of "everything is stupid" attitude. This was also during my major The Catcher In the Rye fan phase…

    @katie – great list! I also especially like the episodes where Jordan calls Brian "Brain". My favorite episode is probably The Life of Brian – the one where brian narrates, and everybody goes to the dance.

  • Love this post. There are so many reasons why I love this show, but I will only list a few.

    1-I love that the show explores the parents' perspective. So many teenage shows don't include the parents' perspective and if they do, the parents are having the same types of issues that the teenagers are having. This show feels much more authentic to me in that it explores struggles that people the parents' age would struggle with.

    2-Similiar to #1, I love that it shows the contrast between Angela's interpretation of events and her parents' interpretation. Her parents don't know/understand everything that is going on in her life so they often misinterpret what she is feeling and thinking. But I love that it shows them talking about her and trying to figure her out. Often the parents' interpretation of her struggles are heavily biased by what they are dealing with at the time. I think this is most obvious in the episode where Patty is struggling with her relationship with her father so she thinks that Angela is having the same issues with her father.

    3-I love, love, love all the literary references. So many teenage shows have a "zit" episode, but how many of those episodes have references to Kafka?

    4-I love all the study sessions between Jordan and Brian. I think these are hilarious and I love that Jordan calls Brian "Brain."

    5-I love the episode when Rayanne is handcuffed to the bed.

    Enough said.

  • Great post… very succinct. I second that list. It's funny how watching the show now the characters looked so young. Have we really grown up that much?

  • @Sassy Sarah – I won't consider myself grown up until I can dance like Rickie.

    @chad – Tino is definitely the best character.

  • Ren

    I liked it though I was a little older than the target audience. It reminded me a lot of my so-called life in high school right down to my gay friends (closeted and otherwise), waffling between befriending and loathing nerdy guys who liked me, and the wild friend w/ an irresponsible mom.

    Btw, I'm sure you had met gay people by the time you were 14; you just didn't know it at the time. πŸ™‚

    Did you ever see the movie Mean Girls? It had shades of My So-Called Life. Oh, that Lohan girl… how the promising have fallen.