Arts and Culture

Better Late Than Never….



Today was kind of a crazy day.  Boyfriend sick and I needed to run errands for juice &c  and do my best Florence Nightengale impression order to nurse him back to health. Then I sat down to write my feature, but first checked my email and thank goodness I did.  I’m in pretty dire financial straits these days and checking my email allowed me to claim 2 last-minute writing assignments that got tossed my way for cash money.  Sweet.

So I completed those, finally, got a quick bite of lunch and sat down to write something here.

Then my mom called stressing me to hurry and make my travel plans for the holidays because it’s going to be absolutely insane traveling that week and my sister and I aren’t going to be able to get a train until the middle of the night, for godsakes and how would she ever pick us up at the train station that late, driving in the dark with her bad eyesight?

So another hour dully spent itself, as train tickets were secured with much anxious wailing and garment-rending on the part of my mother.

And then I sat down in this very chair and realized that I had left laundry in the washer. So that little task had to be dealt with.  Then my boyfriend needed juice and tea.

So here we are. Now. Late.

Initially I was going to do a “Now Where Are They?” about My So-Called Life.  I say initially, because when it came down to typing it, I hesitated.  While I thought about it – who the characters were at Liberty High, and about the directions they might have moved in, I did some reminiscing.

I looked up some photos and watched a bunch of clips on YouTube and discovered, delightedly, that the whole series is available on Hulu and I started getting super sentimental.

It’s news to no one that My So-Called Life remains sixteen years later, one of, if not THE most beloved television show ever to chronicle adolescence.  It painted a limited portrait, to be sure–suburban (mostly) white people with suburban white-people problems, but I have yet to meet anyone from any cultural group who watched the show and didn’t feel like it struck a nerve.  And that’s what gave me pause when I was considering writing a funny, silly post about where these characters are. This show meant so, so much to so many people, that maybe adding a made-up future story in the interest of jokey humor for these characters that are so personal to us, would take something away from the show for the people who love it.

The things the show grappled with are things that resound with all navel-gazey, dreamy, angst-filled young people, no matter where you come from, who your parents are, or who you are sexually attracted to.  The show spoke to teenagers without ever talking down or pandering to them.  I think it reflected us back to ourselves, teasing us in a nice way, a way that let us feel wise and aware of our own experiences in a way that I can’t remember any TV show doing before or since and certainly not in the current cultural climate.  It’s interesting too to reflect on the show in a world where every week Gossip Girl– the TV/cultural equivalent of a microwaved Amtrak hot-dog–is slapped on a plate, dressed up with a bunch of fancy shit and served to us by smiling, vapid, bone-thin twenty-somethings as good television.  Seen through that lens, a show like My S0-Called Life deserves even more respect.  It’s characters do too, because of what each of them gave us at some point or another.

I think, in the end,  at the risk of sounding too much like one of Angela’s close-of-episode monologues, what made My So-Called Life so resonant across demographics was that it was more about the things that we all have in common, rather than the details that make everyone different. So for these reasons and many more which I’m too frazzled to type now, I will leave Jordan, Angela, Brian, Rayanne and Ricki just as they were at Liberty High; fifteen and on the verge of…something.

Also, how amazing was this whole episode? Remember?

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Ashley Friedman - Cornerstore Correspondent

Ashley Friedman - Cornerstore Correspondent

Like most kids, Ashley grew up in New Jersey. Unlike most kids the Friedman's televison set acted as a third parent, imbuing young Ashley with the stern moral values of Claire Huxtable, the dramatic tendencies of Brenda Walsh and the earnest hopefulness of the blond kid on Silver Spoons. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence Ashley made her way to the Park Slope area of Brooklyn where she can currently be found reading foreign fashion magazines, scouring ebay for vintage heels, eating out in restaurants and otherwise stretching her meager income as far as it will go in NYC.