BEFORE ITS TIME?
Watched an episode of My So-Called Life
, famous for introducing Claire Danes, being brilliantly written, and dying the death.
It's hard to watch, because it's a keenly observed portrait of all the awkwardness of being 15, and most of us have tried hard to block our memory of this hellish time.
I wonder if it was just before its time? It's a cleverly written soap, with daughter stories and parent stories. I'm not sure that was so much of a template back in 1994 when it came out.
I'm inclined to say a problem with it might have been that it is such an adult exploration of kid stuff. Kids want to see their lives glamorized and, honestly, adults want to see kids' lives glamorized too. The confusion is too painful.
I thought it was also interesting that Angela's parents are actually together, with a functioning if damaged marriage. When was the last time we saw that? And her dad actually listens to her! And understands what she's going through! Sometimes even more than she does!
Amazon.com has a review that sums it up rather nicely:
One of the most acclaimed series on TV during its brief run from 1994-1995, My So-Called Life pioneered the modern teen drama and made a star out of 15-year-old Claire Danes. Ostensibly centering around the trials and tribulations of high schooler Angela Chase, My So-Called Life actually expanded to include everyone in its protagonist's orbit, from school friends to extended family, and gave its stellar ensemble cast ripe material to work with during its too-short life. Produced by thirtysomething creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, MSCL evoked that yuppie-friendly show with its emphasis on finding extraordinary drama within ordinary situations, but was far more heartfelt and heart-wrenching, echoing the dizzying highs and lows of adolescence. As such, it developed a cult following among young viewers who identified strongly with Angela's high school traumas and followed her every move with rapt attention. (After cancellation, the show enjoyed a popular reprise on MTV.) <> Avoiding the sensational, My So-Called Life tackled every teen hot-button issue imaginable (and pioneered the then-controversial topic of teen homosexuality), but with a clear-eyed perspective, never dissolving into soap opera-–even when Angela mooned over heartthrob Jordan Catalano (dreamy Jared Leto). Even as it mined adolescent angst, though, My So-Called Life never lost sight of its adults, with Bess Armstrong and Tom Irwin both phenomenal as Angela's parents, whose marriage was one of the most complex seen on TV since... well, thirtysomething. Through it all, Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Danes was a neurotic, touching, and funny center, whether obsessing over a zit or negotiating the rocky terrain of first love. Her funny, sobering, and empathetic portrait of teendom reminded us that in some ways, life was just an extended version of high school. --Mark Englehart