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  • Remember the first time you said goodbye to someone and you knew you would never, ever see them again? Remember how that felt? If you do, then you know Angela Chase and her family and friends on "My So-Called Life", a simple show about a group of people at a specific time in their lives that is like the fly stuck in amber.

    There are only nineteen episodes of this most compelling of programs, then it is done. As the nineteenth episode ends, you are left with a painful feeling deep inside. You have come to care for these people and now they are gone. The next day, the rerun cycle will begin again and you will watch, entranced, as Angela and Rayanne and Rickie and Jordan and Brian and Sharon and Patty and Graham and Danielle travel through the same nineteen hours again, as you sit back, longing for that nineteenth episode to be followed by episode twenty. But it never comes. It's cruel.

    "My So-Called Life" is a good argument to never watch television again. And a great argument to say you're glad you did. It's not simply a show about angst-ridden mid-ninetees teens. It's much more.

    You owe it to yourself to watch these nineteen episodes, to get a glimpse at what a five-star television series looks like...and how wrong it is when a television network takes it away.

    Kudos to all involved.

    This series is required viewing.
  • When seen in order, these 19 episodes form an amazingly rich chronicle of a year in the lives of Angela Chase, her high school friends and the adults in their lives. Writing this great rarely makes it into series television. As disappointing as it was when the show was cancelled after one year, the result was a self-contained almost novelistic tapestry of interwoven stories that stands alone as one of the finest depictions of adolescence and parenthood ever created for the screen.

    One of the most distinctive threads that runs through the series is the way both children and adults deceive themselves about what they really want and need out of life. The drama and humor of the series often revolves around the struggle of the different characters to break through to their genuine selves.

    Among many fine story lines, one standout is that of Rickie Vasquez, probably the first depiction of a gay teen on series television, and if not the first, certainly the most unapologetic. I could go on way too long about all the other moving, surprising, heartbreaking and ironic story lines, about the way characters are always surprising us with unexpected depths or insights or abilities, about the use of music, about the incredibly honest and unexploitative depiction of teenage sexuality, and about the performances, which are uniformly superb, even in the smallest roles. Best of all the show is so rich and crafted so brilliantly that it rewards repeated viewing.
  • My So-Called Life is one of those instant classics. A brilliant show, it just came along at the wrong time and was subsequently canned after one season. But that only adds to it's legend and in a small way makes the series even more enjoyable now on DVD. The writing never got a chance to waiver. There was never really a bad episode. The cast never had to grow up and face "the college years" or even prom. Instead we are left with this one season, this one year of high school, with a brilliant group of characters who are locked forever in youth.

    The shows are great. Claire Danes took the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy. And when you compare this one series with two High School dramas it was sandwiched between; the richy richy farce of the early 90s' Beverly Hills 90210 and the glossy junk of the late 90s' Dawson Creek, you see how true, poignant and amazing these 19 hours My So Called Life truly are.

    This was a real classic. That it was canceled so quickly only proves Networks know NOTHING about quality.
  • For some reason I keep coming back to this show. Every year I get the shows out and watch them again. Every year I see new things. I understand more. I'm twenty-six now. What's going on?

    When you're a teenager, and you have those problems, and you know your friends will make fun of you if you tell them, you look to film, music and TV for answers. Living in England, honest to goodness teen shows are pretty thin on the ground. There's 'Byker Grove', 'Grange Hill' and hints of 'HollyOaks' and that's about it. The trouble is that none of them quite has the audacity or time slot to cut to the heart of what its actually like to be a teenager. Most of the time you have to look to US shows like 'Dawson's Creek' or 'Buffy'. But standing above them all was 'My So-called Life' a television programme that answered all of our questions. When the show was transmitted on our Channel 4 in 1995 it was stupidly popular.

    No one had seen anything like this. Suddenly you knew what to do about that older boy or girl you fancy. Or if you have feelings for the girl next door. Or if you weren't sure about your sexuality. Or of someone loved you but you couldn't return their feelings. Or if you got handcuffed to a bed. Your heart was broken by it week after week, but you came back before because you knew it was doing you good. A free hour of therapy with what amounted to being your friends.

    Even if you didn't want to admit it, you were one of them. You were Rayanne Graffe, afraid of the world and overcompensating. Sharon Cherski, searching for your own identity beneath the expectations of others. You were Ricki Vasquez unsure who you were but quietly finding an equilibrium. You were Jordan Catalano torn between your friends and something else. You were Brian Krakow, the romantic with so many high expectations of people. You were Danielle Chase, always being kicked out of different rooms. You were Patty Chase fighting to keep your family together. You were Graham Chase fighting to keep yourself together. And you were always Angela, your world falling apart around you, every choice being wrong, every moment a battle, but somehow slowly working it all out.

    Then, after nineteen episodes, it was gone. Replaced, I believe, by a rerun of 'Matlock'. The show should never have been cancelled. It wasn't fair goddam it. And not on that cliffhanger. But perhaps it had the right end. The perfect ending. The only ending this show could have had. Making a choice then watching in pain the road not travelled. So like life. So-called Life.

    This year we would have had its sixth season. All of the contracts would have been up for renewal. The teenagers would have been twenty something. Characters would have gone, new characters brought in. The writing teams change. But it would not have been the same show.

    The show I keep coming back to.
  • Slytherin_Goddess14 December 2004
    The best show I've seen in years, though that wasn't my first opinion of it, as probably the same for other fans of the show. Give the show a chance!

    This will comfort and encourage teenagers. It's so real, and anyone who's watched more than a couple episodes will agree! Angela, Ricki, and Rayanne are the typical teens. Even though it was made in 1994, you'll find that Angela's mind works like it's in this time period. You'll laugh, you'll cry (I should know)and you'll feel much better about life in general. Watch it, and you'll be transfixed on the show. I rate it four stars!
  • I am a grown woman of the X-generation and I used to love this show when I was young. I don't know what kids want anymore. Is it One Tree Hill and The O.C., shows that are fun but that don't really say much about what it is actually like to be a teenager?

    Cause that is what this show was for me. It told the story of what I was feeling right then and there. It described what it is like to feel so damn insecure and embarrassed that sometimes you would just like to kill yourself right then and there. And it told the story of what it is like to be an outsider and a thinker, how it is to feel everything so strong that every small compliment sends you flying, every small resistance is a catastrophe.

    But that's enough of the sentimentality... Here's the story: Angela Chase is your average intelligent teenager. She's a nice girl from a good home, cute but not a looker. The series picks up when Angela has a bit of an identity crisis. She's tired of being a good girl and breaks off contact with equally nice childhood friend Cheryl. She rebels against her parents, colors her hair bright red and starts hanging out with bad girl Rayanne and her gay friend Ricky. Meanwhile she also falls hard for the silent tough hunk Jordan. Sometimes Jordan acts as if he's interested in her too, only to ignore her the next day. And then there is the neighbor nerd Brian. He is head over heals for Angela, though she is oblivious.

    My So-called Life is finally out on DVD. For the last couple of years I've searched for it now and then on Amazon and on torrent download sites. When I saw that it was going to be released I pre-ordered it and got it at once. So far I've watched the first six episodes, and it still holds up. So I recommend it heartily if you're a fan of quality realistic teenage drama.
  • Actually MTV ran it right after it ran on ABC as part of a campaign to get it recomissioned (and as a brilliant marketing ploy for them, I agree). They ran it every day after school with various members of the cast introducing the episodes.

    I was a year older than the characters in this film and yes one person can have that much drama in their lives and especially at that age. People that are too young to have come to this show for the first time need to remember that this was made for the same kids that a few years before were watching 90210 where nothing was even close to a real teen's life. This was very real for a lot of people and it also broken boundaries. Anyone remember a gay high school character on TV before this show? I can't. Plus, the fashion is too true that it is scary.
  • 'My So-Called Life' is a classic- forgotten as it was 'just TV'. The 19 episodes prior to it getting cancelled were classic- much better than the anodyne Hitler-youth utopia of 'Dawson's Creek' or the vile 'Party of Five'.

    It caught the era of teenagedom wonderfully- with a nod towards grunge music- but felt like a teen-soap that might have read 'Smithereens' & 'Generation X'. The characters were great- and one of the benefits of being a TV show meant that we could focus on any one at any given point.

    Jared Leto stands out as Jordan Cataleno- he would make an excellent transition to adult films such as 'American Psycho', 'Fight Club' & 'Requiem for a Dream'. Plus, blink and you miss him in 'The Thin Red Line'...Claire Danes is great as Angela- a likeable performance when it could have been irritating. What happened to her career?...Ricky is a dude- nice to have not only a homosexual character but one of mixed race- he popped up as a butler in 'Nixon'.

    I feel it was the presence of his storyline and the gay teacher that contributed to this being cancelled. It would happen in this country- where we have 'Clause 28' which prohibits reference to homosexuality in schools I felt this storyline was believable (unlike the one in 'Dawsons Creek') and would help people empathise with such a character...Rayanne was a great character- again, we were given a mess of a person- promiscous (a faker?), hedonistic and the worst kind of best friend (who meant well...). Sharon is Angela's slighted best-friend who develops wonderfully over the series. Plus Gram Chase's character is great- he is close to an affair with his business partner at the end- much like his affair Angela discovers around the pilot episode.

    The best character is Brian Krackow- the unrequited lover of Angela and king of the nerds. Kevin Williamson would rip him off for 'Dawson Leary'- though make him more utopian and therefore less truthful...The best episodes are the one with Buffalo Tom, the 'Weekend' episode (a handcuff populated farce which will remind anyone of teenage parties) and the fun Halloween episode. Love the fact we never see Ricky's cousin!...I've still got this on longplay video from 1997 and everyone I've shown it to has loved it...They ought to do a sequel for 'adults' on HBO- and get Elizabeth Wutzel to write it! Proof, along with programmes like 'Larry Sanders', 'The Sopranos' & 'Twin Peaks' that TV-drama can be fantastic and anything but a formula ridden distraction.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Just like other people who have commented before me, I also had watched "My So-Called Life" over the summer while The N had aired it. I found it to be a well written show about a subtle and perceptive 15 year old girl. Reading past articles about the show the network ABC regretted canceling the program years before. They recently have tried to redeem themselves by airing a new teen drama(Life as we know it)but after watching it, I realized that its not going to last as long as MSCL should have.

    My So-Called life dealt with real issues. It wasn't about a bunch of good-looking rich kids off somewhere having sex, then complaining that their parents will buy them a car but won't spend time with them. Claire Danes was perfect as the role of Angela. She wasn't a tall skinny model posing a teenager with a unblemished face. She is real!!The show was real!! It delt with real issues like having a friend who homosexual, a friend who got all the attention while you sat on the sidelines and envied her. The show also shined light on her not so perfect parents. Angela didn't fall in love with the captain of the Football team and win his heart.

    In this show their was love, hate, drugs, child abuse, sexual idenity, neglect,family & friends issues, and angst that many teens deny having yet, rebelling against angst itself shows how much of a teenager you really are. The truth is teenagers around the world go through a lot more crisis than the show had revealed. Just because you don't see it doesn't mean its not happening. MSCL was just a good way to relate to one out of control thing going on in your life. Teenagers are constantly defending their existence. It's just too bad ABC network couldn't see its potential.
  • my so-called life is the GREATEST TV show ever made. it's a time capsule, a snapshot of what it was like to be a teenager in the early nineties. claire danes as angela chase is poetic and heartfelt. she goes through struggles that all teenagers go through... feeling alienated, pushing her boundaries, being hopelessly in love with a gorgeous boy...

    this show is AMAZING. i've seen every episode twice and i still watch it every night on the N. if you doubt how fully amazing this show is, just watch the end of the episode "self esteem" where jordan realizes he loves angela because she's real and has flaws...then walks across the hall and asks in front of everyone if they can "go somewhere". as they're walking away, he takes her hand. MAGIC!
  • I just happened to read the comments made by the previous reviewer and I have to laugh. First I will address the "need for a show about a teen nerd." Have you watched TV at all in the last 50 years? Let's see: Doogie Houser, M.D., Blossom, The Facts of Life, etc... T.V. has repeatedly offered up fare consisting of pure, wholesome, virtuous teenagers.

    The fact is that teenagers rebel against their parents, care too much about that they wear, obsess over sex, etc. The teens are a time of experimentation and soul-searching. And My So-Called Life was the first T.V. show that honestly addressed the issues that modern teenagers were facing on a day to day basis. We can thank it for the other television shows that dared to follow its example and offer characters that teenagers can actually relate to.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't contain the morality lessons that Leave it to Beaver always imparted, but the morality of the Cleavers was a thing of the past in the divorce-ridden, gay-friendly, sexually aware 90s. And before anyone attempts to throw it in my face that things would be so much better if we could hearken back to days gone by, let me remind you that the "decline of the family" occurred as a result of the staunch and oppressive 50s. People didn't confront issues back then and it made the situation worse. But now we have an opportunity to examine these issues with great programs like My So-Called Life.

    It is a travesty of justice that it was ever cancelled.
  • My So-Called Life was doomed to fail. It was a drama about a teenage girl that wasn't obsessed with the typical things we are told teen girls are overwashed in, like clothing, makeup or boys (well, okay... ONE particular boy)! But this show, in a mere nineteen episodes, managed to run the gamut of topics that all families with kids attending high school in the 1990s were dealing with, and the way the program dealt with these situations was nothing short of perfection.

    The Chase family, a mother, father and two daughters in a tree lined suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, are the focus, and Angela is the POV we're seeing the whole thing through (for the most part), as she narrates the story in voiceovers that are both appropriate to her age and yet wise beyond her years. We first meet her at a crossroads: her childhood girlfriend, Sharon is now "not cool enough" for her anymore and she takes up with a wild new pal, Rayanne, and Rayanne's male friend, Rickie where the three of them collectively spend a fair amount of time hanging out in the girl's bathroom at school, swapping mascara pencils and gossiping about the day's events. Right away, the viewer sees this isn't a "typical" teevee take on high school life! Meanwhile, Angela has taken a shine to Jordan, a hunky but reticent classmate that Rayanne and Rickie also both seem enamored over, and that provides a chunk of the drama for her.

    But, there were plenty of issues for everyone to go around. Angela also had to deal with the boy next door, Brian, who was the class geek (which show viewers know isn't a fair description for him). Brian (anagram for "Brain") clearly has a thing for Angela ("Angel"), though he might not even be aware of that as the series gets started.

    Meanwhile, Graham, Angela's dad, is toying with the idea of an affair, when not considering starting his own business: a restaurant, since he's a chef. Her mom, Patty, has issues because she never knew her birth parents, and gets her obsessive-compulsions from her adoptive mother. Angela's sister Danielle deals with "not being old enough" to participate in a lot of the things her older sib seems steeped in, and that causes strife. Rayanne's mom is an overly permissive sort who allows her daughter to drink alcohol and have parties, which certainly affects Rayanne in notable ways. Rickie is coming to terms with his own sexual identity, and with a dark secret at home. And Jordan's issues are with schoolwork, and with his rock band, Frozen Embryos.

    But... what about Tino?

    If you only know one fact about this program, know this. My So-Called Life had a cast of characters unlike any in television. You could never pigeonhole any one of them as "good" or "bad," as you saw the three dimensional qualities they all had. That included the narrator, Angela herself! At some point during the 19 hours, you got to see each and every one of these people as a villain, a hero, a fool, but always as a human. To me, that was the true magic of the series. Even characters as minor as a substitute teacher, a principal or a hotelier got this same kind of treatment and I don't think I have ever seen a program, before or since, that has been as even-handed with all of its players as MS-CL was.

    Kudos to series creator Winnie Holzman, for making Angela thoughtful, confused and endearing and to Claire Danes who breathed life into the character; to Bess Armstrong, who played Patty so perfectly perfect, though Patty herself managed never to be so; to Devon Odessa and Lisa Wilhoit, who had the thankless roles of the "former" friend and the "annoying" kid sis and both had to make their roles believable and palatable and they both did so, brilliantly; to A.J. Langer, who had most people convinced she actually was Rayanne; to Devon Gummersall, who was literally genius in his role; to Wilson Cruz, who probably had the biggest emotional arc and most challenging acting job of anyone on the show; to Jared Leto who took the bits of dialog he got and made every word count; and to Tom Irwin who was equal parts strong and fragile as the patriarch of the program. Collectively, they were an amazing company.

    It's tragic and beautiful that there was only one season of this program. Sure, fans would have loved a second year to find out what might have happened after episode 19, but in a way, perhaps that would have ruined the perception we had; the mystique might have vanished. Still, Angela lives on with her classmates, her family, her situations and just a little bit of magic sprinkled where it completely fit, and that's why My So-Called Life will remain a true television treasure.

    If you have never seen this series, I almost envy you in that you have an unexpected joy waiting for you to view. And if you have, you already know and understand everything I've said here. As far as a TV teen drama... no! As far as ANY television drama is concerned: being smart, focused, telling and true, there was none better, and there may never be.
  • I did not grow up in the 90's. At the time of this writing, I am 16 years old. This show is my favorite of all time. I could not sympathize with all of the characters, but Angela Chase is a character that takes you on a journey. You meet all of her friends and as a teen in this day and age, with phones conquering any sense of talking, it makes me want to be in her clique. Angela changes as a person, but she still does not want to become a slutty or promiscuous girl. You see how decisions can directly affect people without you knowing it. Angela made many decisions and you could see Brian Krakow visibly hurt not in her presence. Brian is a hopeless romantic in love with Angela and no matter what he did her eyes were set on Jordan Catalano. This show is able to translate pain and sadness with absolute ease. I have not had my first girlfriend yet, but you see young love unfold and how much hurt can be caused. I have never felt such intense sadness or pain before watching My So Called Life. This show changed me as a person and I thank Winnie Holzman for having that effect on me. The ending ends obviously on a cliffhanger, but it was an amazing show and I do not think we, as an audience , will see anything like it ever again.
  • rkhen23 January 2012
    Just watched the show again, for the first time since it was cancelled. (Thanks Hulu.) Wanted to weigh it with this: I was a man in his early 30s in 1995, and I loved this show. I'm still a man now, and in my early 50s, and I still love this show. One of the things that tubed it back then was that the network (and apparently the public) couldn't understand that a show _about_ teenagers isn't automatically a show _for_ teenagers. Missing from many reviews is the fact that a good chunk of every episode was actually about the parents' lives away from their kids. And that part was just as cutting-edge, and just as good.

    The casting was razor-sharp. In 1995 I was just coming to grips with the fact that 1.) lots of people are gay and 2.) that's not a problem. Wilson Cruz was a major part in that belated growing-up. The kid was brilliant. Tom Irwin did the best job of portraying an actual middle-aged man I've ever seen. Just a guy trying to meet his responsibilities, _and_ be happy. This is a lot harder than TV usually makes it out to be, and Tom did a fantastic impression of that high-wire act.

    And Claire. Sometimes I wanted to shake her character. Sometimes I wanted to hug her. I knew that girl, when I was a teenager. I knew Brian Krakow, too. (Alright, I _was_ Brian Krakow. Sue me.) They were all great, even the bit parts, even the walk-ons.

    My point is that My So-Called Life is not a "kids' show." If ABC had understood that, maybe things would have been different.

    Great, history-making television, up there with Lucy and The Honeymooners and Star Trek. See it.
  • I seem to have a thing for watching high-quality series that get canceled far too soon. My So-Called Life is such a series. One of the things about this series that really caught my attention is the complexity and utter realness of the characters. It was frustrating at first because I was so used to characters being neater, less full of complications and contradictions and when I watch the various characters on this show make decisions that are honest, even if mistakes, I found myself wishing that they'd make cleaner, nicer decisions and stay true to the box that I put them in.

    And so I really have to hand it to the writers and the actors for putting together such a remarkable group of believable characters. The one nagging issue I really had with this show is that it was so clearly written. Whereas the characters were so very real, the stories that were told always seemed to balance on the edge of being contrived. And while I understand the attempts at style, I found the structures that the stories imposed on the characters, such as looking at parallelisms, intersections, as well as the occasional supernatural story clashed so strongly with the realness of the characters that it was hard for me to accept the stories, even as the characters realistically reacted in their framework.

    I think that the stories told in the episodes really started to feel less contrived towards the last episodes that were produced and felt the character arcs really pick up. One thing I love about the stories is that there is no real villain, but rather just people, with reasons to like and dislike each other. Sometimes I felt that the resolutions did border a little on pat, but nonetheless stayed believable. I did wish that certain character arcs, especially Ricky's, would've been a little less static.

    And despite all my criticisms, when I was watched the end of the last episode, I was surprised by how much more I wanted. I wanted to see where these characters would go. Here was a series that told stories about people that were real. This was not the lifestyles of the rich and angst-y of the present or the soap-opera hyper-drama of yesteryear, but stories about real grounded characters and even if the stories themselves sometimes stumbled over their own cleverness, everything was so... sincere, that it was hard to hate even the contrivances.

    So, the loss of this show was a loss to the television landscape. Fortunately, it's been preserved on DVD for future generations of fans of serial storytelling to enjoy. 8/10.
  • My So-Called Life is a rare gem in television--the acting, directing, concept, writing--everything was so pitch perfect that it almost makes me sick it was cancelled.

    There are no shows today that deal with adolescence as brilliantly as this show did--and I'm embarrassed that we let a diamond like this slip through the cracks.

    Claire Danes showed what an amazing acting prowess she has--I've seen no other program that has such real characters that can both make you laugh yet care about them so much all at the same time.

    I really hope that the creator of this show goes on to make some other really great shows, because I'm honestly saddened that this one isn't on the air anymore.
  • I totally disagree that you had to be a teenager when this show was new to be able relate to it. The slang and fashions may change, but the Jordan Catalanos, Rayannes and Angelas have been around for years. I graduated 20 years ago. What was termed "grunge" in 1994 was called "burnout" when I was in school. (And the late 70s/early 80s burnout attire wasn't much different than the grunge look - burnout guys wore thermal shirts under flannel, chains in their pockets, work boots and had unruly longish hair.) I, too, had a major crush on the "Jordan Catalano" of my time. I used to think he was "quiet and deep", but realize now he probably just didn't have much to say.

    This show made me realize that although teenagers appear to be so much different today, perhaps that isn't really true - that they obviously face the same type of angst, pressure and problems that I faced. It gave me major flashbacks in that it reminded me of teenaged feelings and traumas I hadn't thought about since high school (and would never want to face again!)

    Angela reminded me of me at her age - naive and a goody two shoes who wants to break out of that shell. I even had the friend "Sharon" (who coincidentally was also named Sharon!) who doesn't understand about wanting to change or preferring Rayanne's company over hers, or no longer wanting to belong to the yearbook committee.

    It was a wonderfully written and extremely well acted drama. There were only a little more than a dozen shows, I think, but every one of them is a gem.
  • This program came out in late 1994, right smack bang in the middle of my teens putting me on an exact age par with the characters in the series.

    I simply cannot express just how clever, well written and superbly acted this, at the time, highly original series was. There was NOTHING on TV that was like this, so drenched in teenage angst and drama and so many of the issues, stories and situations (to a degree) hit such a familiar note with so many people that you just cannot fault the show, on anything.

    Let me just state that I am a guy, and now at the grand old age of 32 I watched the series again and boy did it take 15 years off me. Many of the issues dealt with in the series could be applied to both guys and girls so although it was originally aimed at teenage girls the appeal of the show went far, far beyond that audience.

    On an angrier note, I think it is absolutely criminal that this poignant, emotional and sharp piece of entertainment was cancelled after only one season due to 'bad ratings'. As I recall not many of the most successful shows did that well on their first season but given a chance they shone so brightly and the same courtesy should have been shown to what is arguably one of the best dramas ever to be shown. But no, corporate greed once again stepped in and extinguished the creative spirit to save a few bucks. Well I hope they are kicking themselves now as to what the show could have become in terms of popularity.

    We should count ourselves lucky that the existing series was made in the first place, but after 19 episodes of getting attached to characters with whom most of us can say we identified with one season just doesn't seem enough.

    I wonder just how much this 32 year olds outlook on life would have changed with that second season!
  • It used to bother me that the show was cancelled and that the story lines were left unresolved... But that's part of its mythic status - it never had the chance to go downhill.

    I own the DVDs and it is one of the few television box sets worth having. I can rewatch the same episodes and still feel moved - whether by laughter, tears, or just a sense of "Hell yeah, that is SO true!" This show is for all ages, but above all it's for openminded people who actually like to think while they're entertained, people who appreciate the nuances in individuals. The characters are amazingly well-crafted and the actors do the scripts justice, for once. No one is a cut-out, even if on some level they are all "types" (and aren't we all, especially in the eyes of others? It is one of the things the show seeks to challenge).

    The greatest achievement of this show is the way it presents life situations in MORALLY RELATIVE ways - for once, no moralizing. There is no black and white, no good guys, no bad guys. Sex is neither good or bad; drugs and alcohol are neither good or bad; parents are neither good or bad. Everybody has their reasons and their intentions, and of course conflicts arise, and there is no big make-up session at the end of it, but the characters interact and connect in many different ways. The show does a superb job in depicting situations and events from multiple sides, and capturing the way relationships between people are always in flux.

    Angela's voice-over achieves the perfect balance of being introspective and philosophical without crossing the line into overbearing and intrusive. She is the protagonist, but not the focal point of every story line. This is a model to follow! I would say, in fact, that a lot of TV and films indirectly owe a lot to this show. For example, Rayanne and Rickie (the quirky friend and gay sidekick) are prototypes for the characters of Janis and Damian in the film Mean Girls. I could find lots of examples.

    To conclude, MSCL is above and beyond the vast majority of television dramas - I loved it when it aired in 1995 (I was 12) and I love it now that I'm 24 and technically "grown up"! It isn't just the nostalgia it triggers, it's the overall production quality and the grip it has over viewers, like a good novel. There's no parallel in today's TV.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I recently acquired a copy of the entire serious (shiftily, obviously, as it was not only cancelled early but refused a proper release). I was dreading watching it because I didn't want to ruin the perfect memories of it from my young teens - spending the summer holidays watching it on channel 4, wishing that I was as cool as Angela and falling madly in love with Jordan Catalano...

    Well, times change I guess, but MSCL has happily lived up to all of my highly-expectant memories. It remains utterly perfect in its depiction of adolescent angst - some of the things that Angela says about her life, her emotions, about anything still ring true with me now. It is incredibly insightful with truly believable characters in realistic situations - nothing being made today even comes close to this.

    The Christmas episode does wander idly into the realms of silly with the homeless angel, but it is such an emotive episode that you can easily forgive it (I dare anyone to watch the reunion in the church and not be moved by it) and, besides which, it has the most incredible version of 'O Holy Night'. The Ricky - homelessness plot line is quite simply devastating, as is Rayanne's addiction problems.

    When I was younger I used to think that Jordan was so mysterious and that deep down he liked her early on - watching this from the other side of your teens, with the added knowledge of what teenage boys are really like, is quite an eye-opener - the majority of the series, he is so ambivalent that it's actually painful. It's such a pity that we never saw the relationship continue though the following season. As a teenager, I thought Jordan was very mysterious - now I realise he was just completely clueless but that doesn't stop me from falling in live with him all over again, even in my early twenties (am sure I am not the only one).

    Good shows get cancelled, it is a fact of life (look at Carnivale for goodness sake) but cancelling this was absolutely cruel. So go and find yourself a copy on ebay and get watching - you won't be disappointed.
  • The writers of "My So-Called Life" had a very realistic approach in portraying today's 15-year-old girl. Although the clothing and the 'teen angst' viewpoint are practically out of style today, everything about this show was a warm welcome toward teen compassion, instead of fear, envy, or disgust.

    I believe that, although the situations were original, any kind of cliche character was a cliche in the mind rather than on the screen. Meaning, if Jordan Catalano and Rayanne seem 'all-too familiar' it's only because, if you were a teenage girl when this came out, you know exactly what it's like to fall for the "quiet, but deep" (but not *really* deep) grunge type, who has only smiled at you once, but when it happened, it melted your heart. The acting was just as realistic as the writing, although the writing/dialogue itself was unarguably outstanding.

    Also, the show did have morals, but wasn't obvious about shoving them down our throats. Rayanne as a weird and self-destructive person is not simply a 2-d character inserted just to titilate everyone and push Angela in the wrong direction. She is used as a real teen; so YES, her mother is shown as responsible for her drinking problems(and what not), but it is shown clearly that Rayanne, despite her resentment, is happy to have this friendship type relationship w/her mother, who loves her very much.

    Another (strikingly) realistic character is Brian Crakow. There is probably not one girl I know who hasn't been unwantingly persued/stalked. Crakow embodies the 'i've secretly had a crush on you since we were 10' persuer. But what's good is that he doesn't act nice to everybody, he is pained by teen frustration. Since everyone seems to be in the same boat though, he comes across as the "jerk." Especially since the 'object of his affection' is always either absorbed by Jordan or her own insecurities.

    Unlike many teen dramas(of then and still today), the lead character's family relationship was virtually as realistic as her school and friends life. Her parents have great chemistry with each other, and Angela and her mother have an extremely emotionally-charged chemistry. You can tell this woman is more ambitious and moral than the world around her; she also happened to have won beauty pageants at Angela's age. Angela is, of course, self-conscious by her mother's still apparent beauty, and what she expects her Angela to look like. This situation worked well for the show, because you can see that its tension is only caused by the mutual admiration each has for the other. I liked also, the intertwining of the parent stories with Angela's while having their own lives.

    What made Angela and the show appealing was that it was fresh. The audience knew Angela was confused enough with her place in the world, thus questioning things many of us now probably take for granted. At the same time, Angela was too smart to fall into a teen cliche (like drugs, alcoholism, or pregn.); so viewers could watch a whole episode without rolling their eyes at how predictable things are gonna be.

    The direction of this show was also fresh, consisting of many facial close-ups. The score was 'James Taylor'ish; really down-to earth. The lighting always seemed crispy, but rather dim.

    All in all, great performances and direction, outstanding script. Also, a proof that Claire Danes is MUCH better for *contemporary* roles.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    My So called life first aired when I was 11 and in my first year of junior high. Well I was the perfect age for it as I could relate so much to a lot of the issues the teens on the show were going through. The show revolves around a 15 year old girl named Angela Chase. Angela has recently ditched her childhood best friend Sharon to hang out with the free spirited yet troubled Rayanne Graff and her gay male friend Ricki Vasquez. They encourage Angela to dye her blonde hair a deep red color much to her parents dismay. Angela is in love with an older boy named Jordan Catalono a quiet,mysterious but gorgeous guy. All of this is revealed in the first episode and if it sounds like a boring typical teen drama trust me its not. It's so much more! There are numerous characters and detail is giving to all. The show deals with a lot of issues such as young love,problems with parents,substance abuse,guns in school,sex,friendship and so much more. Most of everything is seen from Angela's POV,and we get frequent voice overs from her as well. The series has aged well from 1994.It's actually quite refreshing to not see smart phones everywhere or hear references to social media like Facebook and twitter. I believe teens nowadays can still enjoy this show. Girls will probably enjoy it more then guys but I do remember a few of my male classmates admitting they enjoyed it as well. I enjoyed re watching My so called life as an adult as it brought me back to my middle school days watching it with my mom and my best friend and I dressing just like Angela and Rayanne ..I admit re watching this made me want to dig up all my old flannel shirts and baby tees:) My recommendation? Whether you are nostalgic for some good 90s television or are a teen debating if you should watch this show I say go for it! You will be pleasantly surprised how realistic and entertaining My so called life is.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I remember seeing this show playing after Degrassi on "The N" when Degrassi was still a good show. It never captured my interest then, but once I saw the whole series on Netflix, I thought I'd give it a try.

    It instantly stole my soul. I felt like I was watching my own teenage years on the television. Angela Chase's words, thoughts, and actions were all too familiar to me. The way that she swooned over Jordan Catalano reminded me of all of the boys that I saw as gods in high school. Rayanne betrayed her in the worst way possible (which also happened to me) and by the end of two long days and nineteen episodes, I was in love with a television show that was long gone. For a week or so, I had the urge to order the silly book that was a continuum of the show that got cancelled. I was THAT desperate to know what happened.

    There really isn't another television show like this. You had "Boy Meets World", "Saved by the Bell", "The Wonder Years", etc. - but nothing will ever compare to how deep "My So-Called Life" can dig into your core and take you back to those high school days when everything was unfathomable. Although it is JUST a television show from the nineties, a 15 year old girl shows you a lot about life - and reminds you that even though life is complicated, we still have to go on.

    I will never forget this show as long as I live.
  • rdworski10 December 2007
    I sort of remember when this show was on the air and I never saw it. I had no idea 13 years has passed since it premiered. Since then, I have never really been a big fan of Clare Danes.

    Today, I was at and they offered the complete pilot and another episode so I watched. And I was just blown away. To think this show is 13 years old? It is truly amazing show and I could almost cry now thinking I never saw it when it was new and never supported it when it was canceled.

    The music seems eerily familiar too. I know very similar music has been used in other series which may have come both and after.

    I enjoyed these episodes so much I am going to either go watch the rest on YouTube if available or get the DVD set which has recently been released.
  • Easily one of the best television shows ever aired. Dealing with controversial issues from a realistic perspective is something no other teen-drama to date has ever been able to accomplish as brilliantly as My So-Called Life. Equally enjoyable for preteens, teens, and adults, the only disappointment lies in the uninspired decision to cancel the show after only one season.

    At least the kids and adults alike that were exposed to it during its original run are now turning this gem into a beloved cult classic.

    But enough of my sappy rantings - the fact is that there never has been anything quite like My So-Called life. Even if you just watch at first to see Claire Danes in her early days, I know you'll be hooked by the end of the first episode.
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