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My So-Called Life, So-Called Angels

My So-Called Life, So-Called Angels

By Patrick Samuel • December 13th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Original airdate: December 22nd, 1994
Running time: 50 minutes

Director: Scott Winant
Writers: Winnie Holzman, Jason Katims

Cast: Claire Danes, Wilson Cruz, A. J. Langer, Jared Leto and special guest Juliana Hatfield

Confidential emotional support | Samaritans.org

My So-Called Life

The 1990’s was probably the last great decade to be a teenager. We had indie, alternative and grunge. We had films like Trainspotting, Hackers, Mad Love and Dazed and Confused. And we had television shows like The Wonder Years and Party Of Five to rush home to.

While those shows were great, it was My So-Called Life that struck closer to home for me. It focused on the lives on a handful of teenagers in the fictional American town of Three Rivers and unlike many other shows that picked a theme each week to run with, the issues raised in My So-Called Life were never easily resolved by the end of the episode. They remained there throughout, just as issues in real life do. They don’t go away by the time we wake up the next morning.

The show’s main character was 15 year old Angela Chase (Claire Danes). Angela did what most of us did at that age. She distanced herself from her parents and the friends she grew up with and made new friends her parents didn’t approve of, and she dyed her hair. Her new friend Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) is loud, rebellious and has a reputation for being sexually aggressive. She’s from a single-parent family and she drinks. Another new friend is Rickie Vasquez (Wilson Cruz). He lives with his uncle, he wears eye-liner and flamboyant clothes and he’is gay. He also makes Angela’s mother nervous.

So-Called Angels is the 15th episode in the show’s 19 episode run and it’s what can be described as a Christmas episode and a very memorable one. Things at home for Rickie have become really bad, he’s been beaten up again and the episode opens with him in the snow at night spitting up blood and then looking for somewhere to stay. At school the next day Angela sees him and is immediately concerned about his bruised face, but when he turns up at her house later on it’s clear he hasn’t had a proper meal in quite some time.

My So-Called Life

Although her parents can see Rickie’s need of need of help, Angela’s mother is reluctant to get involved. After overhearing their conversation he takes off into the night. Spotting him outside a supermarket, Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) offers him a ride. Sitting in his car, they have a conversation:

JORDAN: So where are going?
RICKIE: Um…let me think…um…
JORDAN: Look, you need some place to crash – I know a place.
RICKIE: Thanks.
JORDAN: My old man used to knock me around too.
RICKIE: He did?
JORDAN: He hasn’t done in a couple of years though. He’s too scared. Coz the last time I threw a chair at him.
RICKIE: Well…I’m gonna light a candle for you on Christmas Eve
JORDAN: Oh yeah? Think that changes anything?
RICKIE: Uh huh.

Rickie isn’t the only one who’s having a hard time. Angela’s next-door neighbour, Brian (Devon Gummersall), has been left home alone by his parents who’ve gone on holiday. Sharon (Devon Odessa), Angela’s former best-friend, is stressed out because she has no one to help her with her volunteer work on Christmas Eve. Rayanne doesn’t want to be at home because her mother has her boyfriend staying over. Still, Rickie’s situation is much direr than theirs.

Eventually Angela’s mother decides they have to do something to help him, but her actions cause more trouble than anything else. During the course of the episode Angela meets a young homeless girl, played by Juliana Hatfield, who tells her not to My So-Calledworry about Rickie because she’s looking out for him. She carries a guitar with her and even though her shoes and clothes are worn out, Angela sees something in her that makes her realise that there’s barely any difference between them.

It’s something her mother will also come to realise. As they end up in the one place they didn’t really want to be on Christmas Eve, So-Called Angels brings together an emotional story but it also draws our attention to teenage homelessness, an issue that will continue to be a problem for Rickie in future episodes.

Although My So-Called Life only ran for one season, it made an impact on those who watched it. There was something in each of those episodes; they spoke the language of teen angst, fear and confusion in its constant state of self analysis while its characters sought to figure who they were and what their place in the world was. Many of us are still doing that, even after all these years and even at Christmas.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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