Volume 96, Issue 67
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

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Old show applies to My So Called Life

Chiu on this
Andrea Chiu
C&C Editor

I knew I was watching something special in 1994.

Although I can't claim to have been as rebellious as My So-Called Life's main character, Angela Chase, when I was 14, I watched the first episode of the show and I knew someone was speaking to me – for me.

Almost a decade later, Claire Danes and Jared Leto have developed into successful actors beyond their short-lived television series, and fans of the show have been left with memories of Angela Chase (Claire Danes), Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) and Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) in the shape of a complete series box set.

So, when one of my best friends came over with her five-DVD set of My So-Called Life, I was more than excited to relive memories from my teenage years.

We watched 10 of the 19 episodes throughout three days of popcorn-eating, tissue-passing and gasping at appropriate times. It was just like the good old days, but better – and not because there were no commericals selling us tampons.

Now that I've grown up and moved away from home, the beauty of My So-Called Life is more clear than ever. I can see the struggle between Angela and her mother, and how it so closely reflects the relationship I have with my own mother, especially when Angela says things like, "Sometimes I think if my mother wasn't so good at pretending to be happy, she might be better at actually being happy."

To this day, Angela Chase and her friends have been the only group of fictional characters to reflect my young life so accurately. With just the right amounts of angst, bitterness and desperation, Angela's voice represented how we've all felt.

Dawson's Creek has remained on air for years now and has yet to illustrate life in a true form like My So-Called Life did in 19 episodes. Dawson and his friends are too pretty and the show obviously tries too hard with its cast of characters who have been speaking like pretentious 30-year-olds since they were 15.

Even the recently cancelled Felicity is a far cry from reality, despite its well-written dialog and more colourful characters. Did anyone really believe that Keri Russell could ever be the unpopular girl who never got noticed in high school?

Except for Thirtysomething or Relativity – which both share directors and producers with My So-Called Life – no other television series has so subtley captured humanity like it. Angela Chase's narration has yet to be challenged in teen dramas to this day. It's so simple, but real: "When you look really closely, people are so strange and so complicated that they're actually beautiful. Possibly even me."

While I still think Jordan Catalano is gorgeous and that Rayanne Graff is pretty cool in her own way, my recent re-aquaintance with My So-Called Life has showed me that life isn't about the superficial things. It's about the simple things and, as always, Angela says it best, "Sometimes someone says something really small and it just fits into this empty place in your heart."

It's cheesey, I know, but for one weekend, Angela Chase was that person.

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