My Plaid-Infested Life

When MB was away, I started watching My So-Called Life on streaming TV.

When the show first aired, I had already graduated from college, but I ate up the teen drama like I was 15 again.  High school was still close enough to feel like it had just happened, and I had more in common with the moody, awkward Angela (besides a name) than I cared to admit.

At the time, I was working as an editorial assistant in children’s publishing.  There was another assistant exactly my age, and we’d dish on MSCL every week.  Oh my God, Jordan Catalano is so hot.  Oh my God, Ricky’s such a good dancer!  Oh my God, can you believe what Rayanne did? We were both devastated when the show went off the air after just one season.

After its cancellation, MTV would occasionally rerun the whole series, and I’d watch it whenever it was on.  But it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve last seen it, and I’ve been surprised at how much I both remembered and had forgotten, and what resonates with me now.

All that plaid. I seriously don’t remember everyone wearing so much damned plaid flannel. Of couse it makes sense. It was the mid ’90s and the height of the grunge era. I had at least two plaid flannel shirts myself.

Also, I can hardly believe high-waisted, tapered jeans were the norm, and what the heck was Rayanne wearing half the time? She was like a Raggedy Ann bag lady with cornrows.

Claire Danes was amazing. Of course she still might be amazing, but I haven’t seen anything she’s been in since Romeo + Juliet. In MSCL, she’s totally believable, almost to an annoying level, as the melancholy, self-conscious Angela Chase. She’s such a good cryer, I’m a weepy mess whenever she starts up.

Now it looks like she’s in a bunch of movies I’ve never heard of, including a made-for-TV movie and a TV series. Hmmm, and her leaving to pursue filmwork was supposedly what caused MSCL’s demise.

Jordan Catalano was super-tasty. But he was also kind of a jerk, at least at first.  I think I never realized what a jerk he was.  Still, I love hearing him say “Angela!”

Now I identify more with the parents. It’s rather depressing that I am now the age of Angela’s parents – but without kids – and identify more with the stuff they were going through. Distance in marriage, a possible affair, wrinkles, aging parents.

The eerie future. In one episode, Angela says how her parents’ generation all remember where they were when JFK was shot, and how her generation doesn’t have anything like that.  I couldn’t help but think that in just a few years 9/11 will happen, and then they – or we – will have something like that.

I’ve only watched as far as episode six out of 19. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak them even now that MB is back. Or maybe I can get MB to watch with me, although he doesn’t do angsty teen dramas too well.


  1. I loved the realistic dialogue. I remember Brian – Brian! the clever one! – speaking the line “Like…actually…like…”

    Like, how teenagers actually talk?

    • you’re so right. every “like” and “you know” was so deliberate and artful. and borderline irritating. just like the show.

      ah, Brian! what a way to end the show. would Angela choose hot and stupid Jordan Catalano, or doorky yet smart and sensitive Brian? too bad we never got to find out. :(

  2. omgoodness the mention of plaid brought back some memories! Funny how we (I still love it) still wear it but are much more artful, i.e., not grungey. Funny thing is I never thought of myself as grunge but that oversized gray-blue plaid shirt I thought was “prettier” than the next person’s was, in retrospect, solidly grunge-worthy.