My So-Called Life

My So-Called Life Information

My So-Called Life is an American teen drama television series created by Winnie Holzman and produced by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. It originally aired on ABC from August 25, 1994, to January 26, 1995 and was distributed by The Bedford Falls Company with ABC Productions. Set at the fictional Liberty High School, it follows the emotional travails of several teenagers who are all in the social circle of main character, Angela Chase. The critically acclaimed but short-lived show ended in a cliffhanger with the expectation that it would be picked up for an additional season, but it was officially canceled on May 15, 1995.

The show was praised for its portrayal of adolescence and the commentary of its astute central character, Angela. My So-Called Life was named the second Best School Show of All Time by AOL TV. It placed No. 33 on Entertainment Weekly's "New Classics TV" list of shows from 1983 to 2008, and then, in 2012, at No. 9 in that magazine's "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years," with the praise,

In 2007, it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME", and TV Guide ranked the series number 16 on its 25 Top Cult Shows Ever list.


My So-Called Life dealt with important social issues of the mid-1990s, including child abuse, homophobia, teenage alcoholism, homelessness, adultery, school violence, censorship, and drug use. Many shows at the time used these themes as a one-time issue (a "very special episode") that would be introduced as a problem at the beginning of an episode and resolved at the end, but on My So-Called Life these issues were part of the continuing storyline. The title of the show alludes to the perception of meaninglessness that many teenagers experience and encapsulates the main theme of the series. The show depicts the teenage years as being difficult and confusing rather than a light, fun-filled time.


  • Angela Chase, played by Claire Danes, is a 15-year-old sophomore at Liberty High School in Three Rivers, Pennsylvania, a fictional suburb of Pittsburgh. Like most teens in the throes of self-evaluation, Angela is attempting to discover and assert her identity. To do this, she distances herself from her past and pulls away from her parents and her childhood friends, Sharon Cherski and Brian . In their place, she befriends Rayanne Graff and Rickie Vasquez. Angela has a crush on Jordan Catalano and admires him from afar; they later begin dating, and inevitably break up. With these new relationships, Angela finds herself in precarious and sometimes dangerous situations; despite temptation, she remains levelheaded and responsible. Angela narrates 17 of the 19 episodes in voice-over.
  • Patricia "Patty" Chase, played by Bess Armstrong, is Angela's mother. Unlike many TV mothers, she is the main breadwinner and, at the beginning of the series, employs her husband. She is opinionated and often can't help but express her strongly held beliefs, which at one point leads to a confrontation with the free-spirited mother of Rayanne.
  • Jordan Catalano is played by Jared Leto. He is good-looking but rebellious, his bad boy image masking the real reason for his poor scholastic record (he has an undiagnosed learning disability and is nearly illiterate). He is Angela's love interest, and during the series they have an on-again/off-again relationship. He reveals his emotional depth in his songwriting ability and his occasional "? and seemingly accidental "? profound thoughts.
  • Graham Chase, played by Tom Irwin, is Angela's father. He's soft-spoken and continues to struggle with his role in the household and the direction of his life in general.
  • Danielle Chase, played by Lisa Wilhoit, is Angela's younger sister. There is an emphasis on how much she is ignored by her family. She has a biting and sarcastic wit, serving as somewhat of a comic relief throughout the show. In the episode "Halloween", she dresses up as Angela and fools her parents with her near-exact replication of Angela's red hair, clothes, and demeanor. Danielle narrates the penultimate episode, "Weekend", in voice-over.
  • Rayanne Graff, played by A.J. Langer, is Angela's new best friend at the beginning of the series. She is wild, rebellious, and parented by a single mother (Amber, played by Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn). In the episode "Other People's Mothers", the depth of Rayanne's troubles are revealed when she suffers a drug and alcohol overdose at her own party.
  • Enrique "Rickie" Vasquez, played by Wilson Cruz, is Rayanne Graff's other best friend. He is a gay 15-year-old boy being raised by his uncle, who physically abuses him. Rickie wears eyeliner and bright clothing and feels most at home in the girls' bathroom with Rayanne and Angela. When his uncle kicks him out of the house, he is fostered briefly by the Chases; he is then fostered by gay English teacher Richard Katimski (played by Jeff Perry), who becomes a mentor to him.
  • Sharon Cherski, played by Devon Odessa, was Angela's best friend throughout childhood until Angela became friends with Rayanne. Sharon is conventional and academically minded, but her values and ideals are challenged throughout the show and she grows to be more open-minded.
  • Brian , played by Devon Gummersall, has an unrequited crush on Angela, and has been longtime friends with both her and Sharon. Despite his high IQ and insight into other characters, he lacks emotional intelligence and is socially awkward and self-righteous. This tends to alienate him from his peers. The other characters usually turn to him only when they have an academic or technological query, and he usually seems willing if not actually pleased to help them out. Brian is a conflicted character, fearing and often rejecting the intimacy that he intensely desires. He becomes friends with Rickie towards the middle of the series.


For its original run in the United States, it aired on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET against top-10 hit sitcoms "? Mad About You and Friends on NBC, as well as the popular Martin and Living Single on Fox, undoubtedly contributing to the series' low ratings.

The producers said that they could not fault ABC for the creative freedom and support they gave them during production, as there were probably few networks that would have even put My So-Called Life on the air in the first place. However, it was clear that ABC had tremendous difficulty in effectively promoting the show.

My So-Called Life was produced before the explosion of youth and teen programming. The culture of television would change significantly in the years that immediately followed, most notably with the rise of The WB and UPN, networks that would eventually cater to the teenaged audience My So-Called Life sought, in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade) (The WB and UPN launched just two weeks and one week respectively before My So-Called Life's run on ABC ended). Holzman never intended the show to be exclusively for teens. This may have been even more confusing for the network in terms of placement and promotion as the show clearly was of interest to a broader audience. In the end, not enough viewers of any age were watching the show during its initial network run. ABC was more focused on larger ratings numbers and wider demographics. Holzman said, "It is one thing to have huge ratings, but it is quite another to have smaller ratings but with an extremely passionate following. I don't understand why the network did not understand that."

In conversations with then ABC President Bob Iger, producers Zwick and Herskovitz told him that by broadcasting My So-Called Life the network was giving a voice to millions of young women who otherwise had no voice on network television. The show was making money for the network, and they told Iger he should keep the show on the air for no other reason than "good corporate works", yet ABC simply could not yet see the economic appeal of an audience of teenage girls. At the end of its first season's run, the series ranked at #116 with a 7.0 rating with 6,678,000 homes tuning in from 1994 to 1995.


Also significant was the arduous schedule and the mental and physical demands of the production of episodic television, especially for young actors who must balance schoolwork with rehearsal and time on the set. Herskovitz said Danes and her parents approached the show's creators and told producers that she did not want to be involved with the show if it was permitted to continue for a second season. Nevertheless, the producers were fully committed to continuing the show. In perhaps one of the first times in the history of the new and burgeoning World Wide Web, fans used the new technology as a tool to help mobilize grassroots support. U.S. fans also took out expensive advertisements in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter urging ABC to renew the show, yet they had no way of knowing about the internal conflict in the show's last days.

When she heard that Danes was no longer keen to continue with the show, Holzman's attitude changed as well. She said, "When I realized that Claire truly did not want to do it any more, it was hard for me to want to do it. The joy in writing the show was that everyone was behind it and wanted to do it. And I love her. So part of the joy and excitement and happiness would have gone out of me if she had not been on board 100 percent. I wasn't able to say this at the time, but in retrospect it was a blessing for it to end at a time when we all enjoyed doing it. That's not to say that if the network had ordered more shows that I wouldn't have given it my best. But there was a rightness in how short the season was. This was a show about adolescence and sort of ended in its own adolescence. There was an aura about how short the series was like all things that die young. The show ended at a point that it was still all potential."

The rumors of the end of the show strongly divided its fans. Flame wars raged across the Internet, especially after Steve Joyner of Operation Life Support (a group that worked to save the show) and some cast members confirmed the rumors "? angry themselves, in some cases. Joyner's letter was entitled "Claire Danes Brings Death to 'Life'." Fans were sharply divided between those who believed or disbelieved the reports, and those who thought it was forgivable in any event for a teenage actress to find a way out of a long contract. Others believed Danes' desire to leave was not acceptable, especially given her public stance of support for the movement to save the show. Many fans felt betrayed due to having spent significant time and money in an effort to save the show when its star was secretly working against them.

In a September 2004 edition of Entertainment Weekly, Danes admitted her role in My So-Called Life's demise, while insisting that she didn't have enough power to cause the cancellation by herself. It is generally accepted that ABC seriously considered bringing the show back for a second season and may have even intended to (as then-executive Ted Harbert claims) due to its devoted fanbase, its quality and its critical acclaim. However, low ratings combined with Danes' unwillingness to return combined to end the series. ABC had no interest in getting into a public quarrel with a 15-year-old actress. Winnie Holzman theorized that the network was so on-the-fence about renewing the show that in some ways they used Danes' reluctance to return as a convenient excuse not to renew the show.


# Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production

Note: In 1997, TV Guide ranked the episode "Life of Brian" number 38 on its "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time" list.

DVD and online release

On October 30, 2007, Shout! Factory re-released My So-Called Life on DVD in Region 1 in a 6-disc box set with a disc of special features, including an interview with series star Claire Danes. Shout! Factory is a distribution company that has released short-lived shows in the past.

On September 13, 2007, Eurovideo released the complete series on DVD in Germany in Region 2; The 5-disc boxset featured German and English soundtrack but no special features.

On June 10, 2008, Beyond Home Entertainment released the complete series on DVD in Australia in Region 4.

On December 3, 2008, Free Dolphin released the complete series on DVD in France in Region 2, with a 32-page booklet but no other special features. .

In popular culture

Tino is never actually seen but is mentioned in almost every episode as a running joke of the series. He is a friend of Jordan and Rayanne. Tino is also the lead singer of Jordan's band, Frozen Embryos (later called Residue). In the 2008 film Juno, the title character is asked whether her band will get back together, and she replies, "Once Tino gets a new drumhead, we should be ready to rock". This was confirmed as a reference to My So-Called Life by screenwriter Diablo Cody on the DVD audio commentary.


Atlantic Records released a soundtrack of the show, which originally released on August 25, 1994, then re-released on January 24, 1995.

  1. "Make It Home" by Juliana Hatfield " 4:44
  2. "Soda Jerk" by Buffalo Tom " 4:26
  3. "Genetic" by Sonic Youth " 3:46
  4. "Petty Core" by Further " 3:46
  5. "Drop a Bomb" by Madder Rose " 2:11
  6. "Fountain and Fairfax" by Afghan Whigs " 4:21
  7. "South Carolina" by Archers of Loaf " 3:30
  8. "Dawn Can't Decide" by The Lemonheads " 2:19
  9. "The Book Song" by Frente! " 2:40
  10. "Come See Me Tonight" by Daniel Johnston " 1:59
  11. "My So-Called Life Theme"; words and music by W.G. Snuffy Walden " 1:12

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "My_So-Called_Life" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



    Page generated in 0.28935408592224 seconds