My So- Called Mondays: MSCL Episode 1: Pilot

Kolleen: Here’s a confession: I have never seen the last two episodes of My So- Called Life (MSCL from here on out). I don’t know why; the universe just didn’t want it to happen that way. So here I am, recapping all 19 episodes of this short lived teen drama for your enjoyment but also for my sense of completion. Let’s approach this as if I’ve never seen an episode, shall we?

We open with two girls begging for change. They must be drunk, right? Squeegee  kids? Drug addicted and looking to score?

An innocent blonde Angela Chase and a slutty, awesome Rayanne Graff

No, these two girls are Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and Rayanne Graff (AJ Langer, who was great in The People Under The Stairs), just being their wacky selves!

In a voice-over (VO),  Angela tells us that she started hanging out with Rayanne “just because she would like die or something if she didn’t” and about how things are hard because people expect things of you when you’re a teen. I mean boys have it so easy because GIRLS have to pretend to not notice them noticing you (I never had this problem. I was more of a “Rayanne” in high school, if you know what I mean).  And why can’t cheerleaders cheer to themselves? Man, being a teen is HARD.  At school Angela is pointedly ignoring her rambling, doddering fool of a friend Sharon (Devon Odessa) while watching longingly as Rayanne skips school– she’s literally skipping away– with her friend Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez (Wilson Cruz). “High school is a battlefield… for your heart,” Angela tells us. Girl, aint it the truth.

So, when Rayanne told Angela her stupid blonde hair was holding her back, she just HAD to run and dye it red (which looks way better). Of course, Angela’s mom Patty (Beth Armstrong) is LESS THAN THRILLED.  She is also less than thrilled with Angela’s new cool friends. She gives them some cheese and just leaves them there, which is mortifying for Angela. Cheese, mom? Really?

This woman wouldn’t know fun if it was on her fork.

Angela says that lately she hasn’t been able to look at her mother without wanting to stab her. I hate to break it to you kiddo, but that feeling never goes away. Patty is that passive- aggressive kind of mother that says things like “Well at least we’ll be able to spot you in a crowd”. My mother says stuff like this too– “You USED to be so beautiful until you got all those tattoos.” It’s obviously jealousy.

Angela’s dad Graham (Tom Irwin) is also a bumbling fool who can’t deal with looking at his daughter in a towel because she has boobs now and he thinks Anne Frank is a sophomore in high school too. I actually really can relate to this weird father- daughter awkwardness too. Am I Angela Chase? My dad thought I was a virgin until probably last year, and I have an 8 year old.  Of course Patty thinks Angela dyed her hair to get her to react and maybe not, you know, wanting autonomy or whatever. Patty sure is full of herself.

OMG YOU GUYS. Angela is in love. His name is *~ Jordan Catalano~* (Jared Leto, like I have to tell you) and he was held back TWICE. He’s always closing his eyes like it hurts to look at things. Let’s have a gander at this stud.

Oh Jordan, you illiterate jumble of angst and hormones

Oh god. He’s so good looking. Rayanne can immediately tell Angela wants to do the deed with the Jster. Angela says she likes how he leans on things. I get it, I really do. Rayanne tells her the JC is going to be at this party later. Something to think about anyway. Maybe they can lean on the counter top and eat ranch dip together.

Sharon can not BELIEVE that Angela would dye her hair without consulting her first. Poor girl doesn’t know when she’s been replaced. In yearbook class, Angela’s VO complains that her parents ask her how school is going and compares school to a drive- by shooting. Bear in mind this is pre- Columbine, so you could say stuff like that and no one would really get offended. We see a really goofy-haired kid taking pictures– this kid is Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall), and he looks JUST LIKE this kid Bruce I was friends with growing up.  Angela has a total breakdown in yearbook class and says she doesn’t want to even be on the yearbook!

In the bathroom, Rayanne keeps pressuring Angela to go to “Tino’s party and make a move on Jordan. We notice, as viewers, that Rickie also uses the girl’s bathroom. He’s bisexual (or gay… I remember him being gay but Wikipedia says he’s bi) and he is applying eyeliner better than I could ever dream. Stereotypes aside, I wish to god I had a gay friend like Rickie in high school. Angela is worried she is being foolish about Jordan, and Rayanne states that she never gets hung up on guys so she wouldn’t know. The second bell rings and Angela rushes off to class and Rayanne and Rickie just sit there, cool and dejected, not giving an eff if they’re late. Angela is such a noob to this being cool stuff.

I can’t even. He’s just so cool.

We’re treated to a montage of Brian answering all the questions because he is apparently the only one who cares about school.

“My curls are the source of my intelligence!”

But when the teacher asks the class how they would describe Anne Frank, Angela says “Lucky”. And everyone is aghast! Instead of using this opportunity to say something really amazing about how she was lucky enough to value life and realize how important family and faith and nobility in the face of adversity is, she mumbles that Anne Frank was lucky because she was trapped in an attic with a guy she really liked. Oh, Angela, no.

Angela and her dad have a talk about how her mom is kind of a bitch, and then Angela lies about an extra-credit play rehearsal so she can go to Tino’s and obviously make out with Jordan Catalano. At the party some horrible 90s rock plays and chaos ensues. Angela finds herself in a room with Jordan and flails around like the most obvious person on Earth. Steady, girl. They have a conversation about what day it is (it’s Thursday), and Jordan leaves with friends.

Meanwhile at home Patty and Graham fight over whom Angela loves more. Let’s face it, I’d love Graham more too. He’s not a complete nutbag. Angela comes home looking like she got raped (I’m not being poetic here, she looks like someone attacked her) and instead of showing concern Patty yells at her.

“Oh, hi, I got mugged and raped AND hit by a car but I’M SO SORRY IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT.”

The next day school, Rayanne tells Angela a rave is happening TONIGHT and Jordan Catalano will be there! Tino can DEFINITELY get them in. Is Tino the Heather Sinclair of MSCL? Unless I’m not paying attention, I’ve yet to see him. Rayanne says she will lend Angela an outfit so she can look tough, because once, someone set fire to her hair at this particular venue. Sharon confronts Angela in the bathroom and says Rayanne is using her, and wants to know why she got dropped like a hot potato. They have a cry and Sharon tells her she HATES the red hair. What a bitch! No wonder Angela outgrew her.

Patty wants to hang out with the fam but everyone has something better to do. Angela’s baby sister Danielle wants to watch a movie about obscene phone calls, Graham wants to play pool, and Angela obviously wants to go to “Rayanne’s”, but Patty is pulling that “I don’t know her parents” crap. She refers to Rickie as “confusing” which to me means she’s a huge homophobe. God, what a horrible woman. She doesn’t believe that he can be bisexual because he’s in high school. After some bickering Patty stops caring and I assume she goes into the pantry to drink cooking sherry.

Outside, Brian rides around on his bicycle and taunts Angela. He calls her stupid. Way to get the girl, Brian. He should write a book on how to woo the neighbor girl, by calling her an idiot.

This is my friend Bruce from childhood! UNCANNY.

Outside the club, Tino doesn’t show up (natch), Rayanne gets drunk and gets harassed by older men (and she’s totally okay with leaving Rickie alone, which is foreshadowing as to how shitty of a friend she’s going to be) and then as the older man is manhandling her Angela reflects on how something is finally happening, but it’s too “actual” for her. Rayanne throws her alcohol bottle at the creep, Rickie informs Angela that Rayanne blacks out when she drinks, and takes off when a cop approaches them. As the cop is putting Angela and Rayanne into his car, who shows up? No, not Tino. JORDAN CATALANO. He says “Hey, I know that girl! Angela!” WORTH GETTING ARRESTED. Rayanne tells Angela, drunkenly, that she’ll always be there for her. No one is home at Rayanne’s. Typical.

As the cop and Angela pull up to her house (where Brian is sitting, creepily in a tree, reading by flashlight– this kid is the next John Wayne Gacy), they have an intense conversation about Anne Frank, and about how in hiding she was finally free (makes sense, in a way). The cop makes Brian walk Angela to the door (I guess it’s okay to be reading books in trees at 1 am or whatever). As she’s walking with him she sees her father talking to a woman who is NOT her mother. Looks like he may be getting some action on the side. I hope, for his sake. “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. starts playing. Brian tells Angela the theme for the yearbook is “The Year 2000”, and she says that’s a pathetic theme. She is right.

Angela goes inside, takes off her makeup, gets in some comfies, She goes to talk to her mom and tells us her mother was adopted. She apologizes to her mom for being a horrible kid or something, and they have a cryfest. Claire Danes makes a stupid crying face where she does this weird chin thing. She does it in every movie she’s in. It’s annoying.

On Monday, Jordan and Angela have another 45 second conversation and the episode ends with her smiling. Will the whole school year be this roller- coaster of emotions and experiences? I hope so! Next Monday I will explore episode 2 of this riveting teen drama. See you folks then.

Letty: I never really cared for Angela Chase, I am right there with you on the cry face thing. I also think I was incredibly jealous of her.   I didn’t think she was fit enough for the radiant ~ Jordan Catalano~.  When this show first aired I was 12 and I remember him taking my breath away.  He was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen in my entire life.  ::SIGH:: Not a day goes by where I don’t lament how much of a giant douchebag Jared Leto turned out to be.


2 responses »

  1. I actually did watch this show!! However, I was also a teenager at the time. This show was my life. I had the biggest crush on Patrick Wright. He was my Jordan Catalano. Patrick would talk to me and I would totally swoon like a Civil War Confederate woman in a corset in summer. Oddly looking at these pictures now, it’s bizarre. They look so young, like little children, not like the people who were explaining to me what life was as a teenager. I remember writing a letter to ABC to get them bring the show back to TV. They did, but they never did another season, and then MTV just started doing countless marathons, parading the corpse of my dead favorite show around like it was Weekend at Bernie’s.

    • MTV did those reruns well into my college years, and I remember promising myself each time around that I would catch those last episodes… and I never did, every time. It’s so bizarre! They do look so little now. Angela looks like a baby in that first scene… Rayanne stayed consistent in looks throughout her career. I think she’s married to a prince now or something.


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