I just finished re-watching the ’90s cultural staple My-So Called Life. Now when this show first came out on ABC back in ’94 I was about 3 years old so I didn’t get the chance to watch it on TV. Fast foreword and I remember it used to come on the channel the N a teenage spin off of Nick in re-runs. I didn’t watch it then either but had heard of this amazing show from the ’90s that only lasted one season. It wasn’t until I was 21 that I watched the show on Youtube and fell in love with it. I wished my high school experience was like Angela’s and I had a hot guy named Jordan to like and best friends like Rickie and Rayanne to hang with. Of course that was my first time watching this show so I was looking at this through a rose colored ’90s glasses where my “I love the ’90s” self came out. But looking closer at this show at 25 I see a few flaws in the story of this show and it’s characters. I still think this show is really well done but not perfect like people like to make it out to be.
My So-Called Life is an American teen drama television series created by Winnie Holzman and produced by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. It originally aired on ABC from August 25, 1994, to January 26, 1995, and was distributed by The Bedford Falls Company with ABC Productions. Set at the fictional Liberty High School in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it follows the emotional travails of several teenagers in the social circle of main character Angela Chase, played by Claire Danes. The critically acclaimed but short-lived show ended in a cliffhanger with the expectation that it would be picked up for an additional season, but it was officially canceled on May 15, 1995. The show was praised for its portrayal of adolescence and the commentary of its central character, Angela.
My favorite character was Delia Fisher who was just so sweet and so kind and a total catch but got dumped all over by dumb Brain Krakow who has such a flawed way of dealing with girls and people in general.
My second favorite character is of course Rickie who just got the shit end of the stick because he always had be Rayanne Graff’s puppy dog who does all her biting and saves her when she gets too wild and crazy. He only liked one boy Cory who didn’t even like him he liked Rayanne which was lame. But I liked the relationship Delia and Rickie had and how she supported him in coming out plus they had one of the cutest dance scenes at the World Happiness Dance. Of course when Rickie was homeless for a while it got too real and I applaud this show for tackling a subject like homelessness in teens back then it was brave.
Another topic they tackled really well was drinking. Now most teen shows have an episode on drinking and drugs but never continue the story or how when you get clean how that effects their relationships. Getting clean was a big deal for Rayanne after almost ODing on molly and alcohol and effected her relationships with Angela and Rickie. To be honest Rickie getting pissed at Rayanne after leaving the gig she had with Jordan’s band was valed. I’d be mad too do you even realize the effect you have on your friends? I mean Rayanne was a flawed character but she did have a unique fashion sense and a really cool mom.
Then of course there was Angela’s parents who actually got on my nerves a lot because they were just so judgemental and non trusting even of their own relationship especially Patty Angela’s mom. I mean the minute Rayanne and Rickie walk through the door she has an opinion on them and how they’re going to screw up her daughter’s life. Then there is the fact that every other scene with them is Patty trying to jump Graham her husband’s bones like they don’t just do it regularly like a normal couple. Angela has a terrible relationship with her parents as they don’t trust her and yet Angela never lets them in to her world. Even when her dad gives her Grateful Dead tickets she sells them to Jordan just to spit him without even knowing the details of the situation. He just want something to bond with his daughter with but she gave that up. Then the way she threw Amber into Patty’s face like that was wrong. I personally don’t thing Angela understands her privilege hanging out with people like Rayanne and Rickie who both have messed up home lives and the worst thing that happens to Angela is she is always getting into fights with her mom because she want’s to have a relationship with her.
Of course there is Angela’s little sister Danielle who is the invisible child by her parents and Angela who just try to pretend she isn’t there. If Patty and Graham focused even a ounce of the energy they spend on Angela’s life on Danielle’s they would be a lot stronger as a family. Even when Danielle wanted to do that fashion show with her mom she so fixated on Angela that she completely ignored her other daughter. It’s great they gave Danielle one episode all her own in “the Weekend” but even still the episode focused on Angela and her friends.
The biggest thing remembered by people who watched this show was Jordan Catalano. Yes Jared Leto is so good looking that is a fact and he played Catalano so well. But what sucked was that his character was kind of an asshole who treated women like objects to just have sex with. Of course every show has that hot dream guy that every girl wants to be with but most of the time they don’t end up with. Angela got lucky but it backfired because her reality was so different then her fantasy of Jordan. Like when they first started “seeing” each other in the Boiler Room and all they did was kiss but Jordan would never actually leave the basement with Angela or hold her hand or walk the halls with her nothing. Then when she comes to see him at that club Buffalo Tom is playing at, even though he didn’t ask Angela to come there he still should have acknowledgment her presence and the fact that she came to see him. When Rayanne Graff has to point out that your being a jerk then you know your wrong. It was cute when he finally asks her to walk down the hall with him and holders her hand but he screws that up not an episode later. Pressuring Angela into having sex is wrong nobody should feel that way or almost do it just to stay with a person. It’s like what Sharon Cherski said about her and Kyle who she did it with but then felt like it was expected from her which is wrong on so many levels as the girl should have a say in the matter as well if she wants to do it or not. I mean it was cute when Jordan came to see Angela in the middle of the night and the whole kitchen scene was nice.
Jordan also suffered from Dyslexia which is something I have and so I could relate to him and his struggles in school. Now he had a more advanced version then mine but it still sucks to have as it makes you not want to go to school or class or do anything. So even though Jordan at times came off really shallow which he is his brain was just wired different then most of us. I am glad this show tackled this issue as most shows don’t and it’s an important issue that many kids have. I’m glad Jordan eventually takes the help offered to him but what was great and kind of messed up was when their substitute English teacher helps him read. I only say it was messed up because he yelled at him before seeing if maybe he couldn’t read and wasn’t just slacking off just to do it.
Speaking of Sharon I felt bad for her when Angela dumped her for Rayanne and then didn’t talk to her and made a big deal out of it. The worst part was when Angela didn’t even acknowledge the fact that her dad had a heart attack and was being really standoffish. Again when Rayanne has to take Sharon to the hospital to see her dad what does that say about you? Luck for Sharon she had other friends and eventually her boyfriend Kyle. But it still sucked that your best friend since you were a kid leaves you for the screw up kids its hard. It’s also very interesting to see the relationship between Rayanne and Sharon blossom over the 19 episodes to were they might not always see eye to eye but they can sometimes find common ground.
Now the biggest flaw of this whole show and I know that this show ends on a cliff hanger so its not like we know if this issue was going be resolved in the future but the fact that Angela got mad at Rayanne and Jordan for sleeping together but when Jordan writes (or what she thinks he writes) a letter to her she is so taken a back that she decides to give him another chance. Rayanne on the other hand is left friendless by both Angela and Rickie. What a double standard and don’t even get me started on Krakow.
Yes he can be very annoying and he may not always understand what is going all the time but to be honest he is the only person who actually cared and was looking out for Angela at all. Angela was such a bad friend, neighbor whatever to Brain and Brain would get mad but in the end he would just except it and let her run all over him due to the fact he loved her so much. Except for the Delia Fisher thing I felt bad for Brain having to watch the girl you love with another guy and an asshole mind you sucks. But in the end you help that asshole win the girl because you want to see her happy and I don’t blame you for that.
Think about it though Rayanne is a screw up but Angela should have known that the minute she started hanging out with her I mean come on. Angela had every right to be pissed at her but in the end can’t you just put things in the past? When your mother and Sharon starts to sort of like Rayanne that should mean something. She shouldn’t have shut her out completely like that especially when going back to Jordan. I would have never given Jordan the time of day if it meant me not being friends with my best friend. Plus when you know that Jordan is just going to hurt you again is it really worth it? I mean Krakow might be Krakow but at least you know he wouldn’t hurt you. I don’t know, bug if I were Angela I would have at least givin Brain 5 mins of my time before I hopped into Jordan’s car he at least deserves that.
- Guns and Gossip
- Father Figures
- The Substitute
- Why Jordan Can’t Read
- Strangers In the House
- Other People’s Mothers
- Life of Brian
- On the Wagon
- So-Called Angels
- In Dreams Begin Responsibilities
The Music of My So-Called Life:
There was a lot of great music in this show that was very ’90s. A lot of it was alt-rock/indie-rock of the time. Music acts such as Buffalo Tom, Animal House, REM, Juliana Hatfield, Violet Femmes, The Cranberries, The Grateful Dead, ect. It also had a really great soundtrack and it’s transition music was pretty good too.
|My So-Called Life (Music from the Television Series)|
|1.||“Make It Home”||Juliana Hatfield||4:44|
|2.||“Soda Jerk”||Buffalo Tom||4:26|
|5.||“Drop a Bomb”||Madder Rose||2:11|
|6.||“Fountain and Fairfax”||Afghan Whigs||4:21|
|7.||“South Carolina”||Archers of Loaf||3:30|
|8.||“Dawn Can’t Decide”||The Lemonheads||2:19|
|9.||“The Book Song”||Frente!||2:40|
|10.||“Come See Me Tonight”||Daniel Johnston||1:59|
|11.||“My So-Called Life Theme“||W.G. Snuffy Walden||W.G. Snuffy Walden||1:12|
My So-Called Life Fashion:
Ok so I am in love with the way Rayanne Graff dressed in the show. Her outfits were so fun and edgy and bohemian just like her apartment and her attitude. I hated the way Angela dressed as you could never tell if she was wearing a different outfit from day to day. Then you have Rickie who dressed very well except when he wore those bandanas those are not there for me.
Anyway here is basically what I think would happen to each of the characters and relationships.
Jordan, Angela & Brain: I think or at least this what I would have done: I would have let him take me somewhere and then I would have had a long conversation with him about everything and then I would have made him take me home so I could have a conversation with Brain then I’d give it a week or two for me to make up my mind about the whole thing. I’m not 100% sure which guy I would choose but even if I didn’t go out with Brain at the time I would have at least considered him later on.
Rayanne, Angela, Rickie: Angela would have forgivin Rayanne and laid some ground rules down for how their relationship should be. Same for Rickie and hopefully Rayanne could stay sober for longer then a month.
Rickie: Rickie would get adopted by his English teacher and he would help him deal with coming out. He would finally have a boyfriend and him and Delia would be the best of friends.
Sharon & Kyle: Sharon would finally dump Kyle again and wouldn’t use him for sex and she finds a really nice boyfriend to be happy with.
Sharon & Angela: Sharon although still hanging with her other group of friends would interact with Angela, Rayanne and Rickie from time to time and Angela and Sharon would be the best of friends again like when they were kids.
Jordan: Jordan’s band gains stem locally and they get picked up to play the local shows. Jordan keeps getting help for his reading and Angela helps to motivate him. Jordan tries to stay with Angela and actually treat her like a human being. He graduates with Angela’s class proudly.
Rayanne: Rayanne stays sober for the long hall and values her friendship with Angela & Rickie. She tires to stop just being with boys for the sex and actually tries to find a guy that will love her for her.
Brain: Brain keeps loving Angela until one day she decides to give him a chance. He keeps hanging out with Rickie and helping Jordan with his reading to which they become friends.
Angela’s Parents: I feel a divorce in the future after Graham sleeps with Hallie and their restaurant does really well. The kids stay with Patty and she is more miserable then before. Angela continues to hate her father and Patty and Angela’s fighting gets worse but eventually stops and Angela starts seeing her mother’s point of view.
Rayanne’s Mother: Amber starts acting like a real parent without loosing her quirky charm. She finally gets out of her only eating appetizers faze and takes a cooking class with Graham. She helps make sure her daughter keeps sober and doesn’t drink so much herself.
Danielle: Danielle’s family starts to value her more and make her more apart of the family. Angela starts to have a relationship with her little sister and life goes on.
This show was one of a kind and really did deserve more then one season but just in that one season it teaches a lot about life even if your not a teenager anymore it still makes you think about the choices you make in your life and the people you make relationships with. In the end I think we are all at one time or another an Angela, Rayanne, Rickie, Sharon, Brain & Jordan just trying to get through our So Called Life.
Till Next Time…Don’t Sell Your Grateful Dead Tickets!