July 29th, 2011
03:44 PM ET
If you miss wearing plaid flannel (even in summer), and harbor an urge to scour your local beauty supply store for some crimson glow hair dye, you may want to check out reruns of "My So-Called Life" on Sundance Channel.
If you blinked during the 1994-1995 television season, you might have missed the ABC teen drama which lasted a mere 19 episodes and starred Claire Danes as 15-year-old Angela Chase and Jared Leto as the object of her affection - Jordan Catalano.
Jordan. Catalano. Two words. It was never just Jordan. This was just one of the quirks that made "MSCL" so great - there were so many things just for the fans. Remember Tino? You couldn't possibly remember Tino - lead singer of Frozen Embryos/Residue - because you never saw him.
"My So-Called Life" dealt with serious issues, too: Rayanne's drug abuse, Rickie getting kicked out of his house for being gay, Jordan's illiteracy, and guns in schools.
But it wasn't a teen soap like "Beverly Hills, 90210." For one thing, the teen characters were played by actual teenagers - not actors in their late-20s. And the kids really did have limited wardrobes.
Speaking of "90210," in the book that comes with SHOUT! Factory's MSCL DVD set, Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," stated that when he pitched "Buffy" to networks, depending on the intelligence level of the executives in the room, he would either say that it was a cross between "The X Files" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" or a cross between "The X-Files" and "My So-Called Life." Whedon also said "'Beverly Hills, 90210' was a realistic view of adolescent life in the way that 'Finding Nemo' is a realistic view of clownfish." Not to besmirch "90210's" name, I have gushed about it here. And here. I prefer to live in a world where both series can exist.
Re-watching the series as an adult (incidentally, I was the exact same age as Angela and her friends when the series ran), I am now much closer to the parents' age. Heck, they were 40. I don't see Jordan Catalano as hot so much anymore as self-centered. I'm finding the dad much more attractive. Now, when I watch the episode that contains a scene in which Angela is freaking out over a zit (and rightly so!), I pay more attention to the story line in which her "hot" dad regrets the fact that he never went to chef school.
When Mr. Chase finally does begin to realize his restauranteur dream, he goes into business with a character by the name of Hallie Lowenthal. Yet another name in the show that is always two words. Hallie Lowenthal was the Jordan Catalano for the older set. This, and other relationships probably would have been explored had the series continued.
Series creator Winnie Holzman told SHOUT! Factory that fans sometimes tell her it's a shame that "MSCL" was cancelled. "To me it isn't a shame at all," said Holzman. "It's perfect. It all worked out perfectly."
The SHOUT! Factory book also contains an essay by Professor Michele Byers from Saint Mary's University in Nova Scotia, who likened "MSCL" to the types of friends in high school "who breeze into your life for a year or two, change the way you think and then breeze out again, leaving only ripples in their wake." I couldn't have said it better myself, except that nowadays most of use have reconnected with those friends who breezed in on Facebook. Unless, like Rayanne, they slept with Jordan Catalano on a drunken bender. But curiosity gets the better of us and we usually contact our "frenemies" on Facebook, too.
Do you wish the series had continued, or was the cliffhanger ending apropos? [Executives at the time didn't know that "MSCL" wasn't going to get picked up for another season, and the show ended with Angela driving off with Jordan Catalano. After finding out Brian helped pen Jordan Catalano's love letter to Angela, Angela sees Brian in a different light. The cliffhanger is: Will Angela remain obsessed with Jordan Catalano, or will she pursue Brian?]
Do you agree with Winnie Holzman that it worked perfectly? What are your favorite "MSCL" memories, scenes, and quotes?
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