My So-Called Life, A Dozen Years Later

Last week our family watched (on VHS!) the pilot for My So-Called Life, the 1994 TV series. Most of it went over our twelve-year-old son’s head, but I was blown away. Even though I’ve seen a lot of the episodes multiple times on MTV marathons and I knew the acting was excellent, I was just amazed at the screenwriting. It is fluid, natural, wonderfully paced, visual, and the voiceovers even fit. There is a dinner scene where four people have four agendas, and they are all talking past each other. There is a montage of a single school day, with the teacher asking a question “What is the purpose of plasma?” followed by an answer “Because it is written in the first person” from the next class. Angela gives an honest response to The Diary of Anne Frank then realizes she has just sounded completely shallow in front of the whole class.

The whole thing should just collapse under the weight of the craft (Citizen Kane just about does that), but it soars.

Why? Because it is true to high school life. It is proof that at least one person grew up and did not forget what it was like and wrote it down.

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