Tuesday, April 27, 2010


\swah-dee-ZAHNG (the NG is not pronounced, but the vowel is nasalized)\


: self-proclaimed, so-called

Ah, "Ma Vie SOI-DISANT," one of my all time favorites, a show that died too young, as only the good do.

I've thought recently about writing a profile on "My So-Called Life," in defense of how it has absolutely stood the test of time. A few years ago, Josh got me the entire series on DVD for Christmas. Like many other things I was fond of in my childhood (pringles, the film Mystic Pizza, Spencer's Gifts—to name a few), I was worried the show might have lost its grandness a bit in the fifteen or so years that had passed since I fell under its spell.

Not so.

Creator Winnie Holzman did a pristine job at capturing not only the zeitgeist of the post-grunge nineties, but the dynamic intimacy among all of her characters. While Angela Chase is clearly the center of this dynamic, all of Holzman's characters are given the spotlight at some point, and rounded into strong figures that are hardly obscured in Angela's shadow.

Every time I watch this show, I can't help myself from thinking—this is so...real. Even fifteen years later, this has hardly faded. I watch it and I think, that is really what it was like to be fifteen—unlike other shows in which teenagers have the wit of people in their early twenties. Holzman's characters are trite and naive and unassuming and foolish—just the way fifteen year olds should be.

But, really, what I appreciate most in this series is the intimate attention to detail—the scene that comes to mind is the one in which Jordan Catalano is going off about something and Angela can't help staring at a thread unraveling from his flannel and thinking about how much this says about his life, and what her noticing says about herself. This intimate observation, this self-implicating reflection, is what really, really makes this show unmatchable.

Go and watch some, if you can. It will remind you that we are all still fifteen somewhere inside, and sometimes we need that humility.

1 comment:

  1. Funny that you posted this today. I woke up listening to Aurora Gory Alice today and was taken back..... Way back.