8.21.2009

My So-Called Drinking Game

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I've been having a personal My So-Called Life marathon for the past week, courtesy of Hulu. If you don't follow me on TwitterFYI: I've been having a personal My So-Called Life marathon for the past week, courtesy of Hulu. And it has been magical.

When people ask me what's going on in my life, the first thing I say is that I've been watching a lot of My So-Called Life recently (which is kind of sad and pathetic in it's own right). 80% of people I tell this to have never seen a single episode. That statistic shocks me. Because My So-Called Life is such an important show. And it's not just important to me (although it really is,) it's important to the greater pop-culture landscape as a whole. I believe that MSCL is the most authentic and relatable teen drama that has ever been on television. When explaining it to someone who's never seen it before, I'm quick to compare it to Degrassi, because MSCL also goes there. But really that's an unfair comparison, because MSCL is so much more relatable than Degrassi. Maybe that's because I've only seen Degrassi Junior High and I'm not a Canadian middle schooler in 1987, but still, I argue that MSCL has a leg-up on any other teen drama for the following reasons:

1.) The language. Winnie Holzman's writing is brilliant for so many reasons, and her use of language is key. If you took a shot for every time someone said "like" on the show, your veins would run a river of Jack Daniel's. Which is perfect, because when real people talk, they tend to say things like "like" and "um." Real people also tend to think about weird stuff and ramble. Ergo when Angela says stuff like,
"I couldn't stop thinking about it. The, like, fact that - that people - had sex. That they just *had* it, like sex was this thing people - *had*, like a rash. Or a - a Rottweiler. Everything started to seem like, pornographic or something. Like, Mrs. Krysanowski has sex. So does Mr. Katimsky. They both have sex. They could - have sex together. Like right now."
it's so perfectly perfect.


2.) The characters manage to be archetypal while not becoming parodies of themselves. Which happens so quickly on other shows. Let's take Gossip Girl for example. Chuck Bass is the rich, sociopath, womanizing character of the show, right? Well that's all good and fun to watch until Season 2 when the writers have exhausted every semi-incestual sexual relationship between the characters, so they make Chuck move on to an elite Eyes Wide Shut style sex club where members have to wear masks and have secret matching tattoos. Because frankly, what the fuck? I understand womanizing the entire Senior class and maybe some of the help, but an elite masked sex club? Really? It was at this moment that I came to the sad, sad realization that Gossip Girl had jumped the shark. The archetypes on MSCL never got out of hand. Sure Rayanne was The Drunk, but she only needed her stomach pumped once, and who hasn't been there? Relatable. She didn't shank a hooker, steal a car, drive to the Anheuser-Bush factory and drown in a vat of Budweiser.


3.) The show explored both major and minor teenage issues. Sure it tackled drug abuse, child abuse, sex, infidelity, depression, sexuality and homelessness (to name a few,) but more importantly, it also showed those small, universally relatable stupid teen moments that we all had. Like when Angela wakes up and realizes she's finally over Jordan Catalano and dances around her room in her boxers blasting Jane's Addiction Violent Femmes. Everyone has that moment where they're like, "Holy shit. I'm so over you. THIS IS AWESOME!" Hell, I had that moment this morning! Why do you think I was late for work? It took me a few minutes to download "Blister in the Sun" and clear the crap off my couch so I could jump up and down on it, but I did! And it felt great!

4.) The show's Nihilistic attitude towards conflict resolution. This is probably my favorite thing about the entire show. Nothing ever gets resolved. And it's perfect. Let's go back to the Gossip Girl comparison again. Blair and Serena get in this huge fight and spend the first half of Season 1 trying to destroy each other's lives, right? Then they have one teary conversation, hug it out and are instantly biffles^max again? That's really not how it works. At all. Because you and your friend can have that make-up conversation and chalk it up to miscommunication and cry about how much you missed each other and hug and sob and giggle, but things never really go back to the way they were. Because as much as it sucks, you can never really forget what happened. And it's going to be awkward and weird for a while. That's why I appreciate that Rayanne and Angela, although technically past their teary conversation/hug it out moment, weren't really on speaking terms for the last third of the series. And that in and of itself is never really resolved! It's just accepted that their relationship has changed and things are different. Every time their characters interact, it's only in a "Hey...Yeah...This is awkward. Welp! Good to see you!" kind of way. Because that's how it is in life.

Likewise other major issues are explored but never really resolved. Like Ricky's homelessness. He gets beat up, disowned and subsequently has to bounce around staying with various friends. And that's that. His long-lost grandmother from Puerto Rico never shows up to adopt him. Because although that would close out that plot line nicely, what are the odds of that really happening? Or the fact that Jordan Catalano also sort of has a drinking problem and comes from an abusive home. That fact is presented, but never resolved. It's just sort of accepted that he's the trashy kid from the townhouses down the street. So there's that. Or Rayanne's drinking. Yes, she drinks too much and overdoses on X one night, and sure she goes to some counseling, but soon she's right back to drinking. And the show sort of treats that like, "Ooof...that's probably going to suck down the road one day...Oh swells!" and that's that. There's no tender, touching, Hallmark THIS IS FIXED, LET'S NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN moment (Cough, Blair's bulimia problem, cough). Because in life, not everything can be fixed. There are just some shitty things that will always be shitty because that's the way the cookie crumbles. Like Danielle! She's Angela's annoying younger sister, a character I can relate to in a big way. She's bored and left-out and desperate for attention, but guess what? That's just the way it is. There's never an episode where Angela and Danielle talk their issues out and decide to make a conscious effort to make Danielle feel more included. Because that would never happen. She's going to feel lame and left-out for a while, but then she'll get older and things will get better. Because that's just how it works. And I respect the show for recognizing that and not forcing convenient, yet completely unrealistic resolutions.

So that's why I love My So-Called Life. That and the fact that Jordan Catalano couldn't read. Which is endlessly funny to me for some sick and twisted reason.

So lace up your Doc Marten's, tie a flannel jacket around your waist and get ready to share your emotions
it's time for The Ultimate My So-Called Life Drinking Game!
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Rules:
Drink When:
- Music from any of the following bands is played: Violent Femmes, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, The Cranberries, Radiohead or Jane's Addiction
- A character refers to another character by their last name only (ie: Catalano, Krakow, Chase or Cherski)
- Jordan Catalano struggles to read (LOLZ!)
- Jordan Catalano calls Brian "Brain" because he has dyslexia (DOUBLE LOLZ!)
- Rayanne takes a drink
- Rayanne overdoses
- Rayanne gets stage fright
- Rayanne's mom calls her "Raynie"
- Angela cries
- Mr. and Mrs. Chase have sex
- Patty Chase wears a blouse buttoned to the very top button
- Graham Chase cooks something
- Danielle interrupts the conversation with a non-sequitor
- Tino is referenced
- Sharon organizes something school-related (ie: World Happiness Dance or the Christmas Eve Suicide Hotline)
- Sharon and Kyle make out
- Angela and Jordan make out
- Jordan pressures Angela to have sex
- Brian Krakow is called to save the day
- The soap dispenser in the girl's bathroom is out of soap
- Hallie Lowenthal inappropriately flirts with Graham
- Something supernatural happens (ie: angels or time travel)
- The band breaks up
- One of Angela's friends turn to her mom for help or advice
- Ricky doesn't have anywhere to stay (WAMP, WAMP)
- Jared Leto sings a non 30 Seconds to Mars related song

As always, thank you so much for reading and spreading the 2b1b word via twitter, facebook and your votes! Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here Monday morning!

27 comments:

L said...

You have just inspired me to begin my yearly MSCL marathon. I LOVED that show and would quote the shit out of it all over my AIM profile. It truly breaks my heart when I encounter people that have never watched that show and I almost deem them unworthy of further dicussions. Side note: I will be searching high and low for more 2birds1blog stickers throughout DuPont bathrooms. Its become the highlight of my nights.

2 Birds, 1 Blog: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

Ha! Well I ran out of stickers and can't re-order until next week, so for the time being, they're just in Big Hunt. <3

mary said...

the hardest thing I have ever had to wrap my head around was when Brian Krakow was on Felicity and he raped the pink power ranger...

go now go.

Shelagh said...

Oh my god I remember Angela's sex monologue so clearly! I was like "OTHER PEOPLE THINK LIKE THIS??"
Also does anyone remember when Brian Krakow was on the L Word as a character who lived as a man but identified as a lesbian named Lisa? Oh Devon Gummersall...

Rachel said...

I cant believe that 80% of the people yo umention this too, have not seen the show!!!! Possibily the best TV show of our time...of course, I think if you can relate to Danielle...that makes me Rayanne...which kind of sucks. yes?

2 Birds, 1 Blog: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

Brian "Brain" Krakow was also in the movie Dick as Kirsten Dunst's brother who invents quaaludes.

Cat said...

MSCL WAS my life! When it aired, I was the same age as the characters and going through the exact same shit. I agree that it was one of the best, most poignant, most real shows of our time. I related to Angela on so many levels. I never understood why it got canceled--so many people were so upset about it. It probably had something to do with all the reasons you just enumerated about what made it so great...People want over the top DRAMA that comes full circle to be resolved at the end of the ep/season, all tied up in one pretty little package.

Anonymous said...

I had my marathon a few months back....glad to see others are as well :)
I too watched it when it first aired...having troubles similar in the show..I was the only person I knew of that was actually watching it tho..I was sucked in from the beginning. Also still looking for a gay best friend to this day.

Ushma said...

I feel so badly that I've never seen an episode of MSCL, esp after hearing how much it's impacted everyone's lives. To my credit, I didn't get into the original 90210 until about 3 years ago. My childhood was a sham. I blame it on my parents moving here from the Motherland.

Anonymous said...

My dad gave me the DVD box set for Christmas! I guess it was meant to be "special" coming from him since we used to watch it together every Thursday night. Let me rephrase--I used to watch it and my dad would join me in the family room and creep me the eff out. If I was secretly thinking in my special 14-year old brain that I'm the Angela Chase, did he relate to Mr. Chase? NOT COOL, DAD. Especially the scene (in the pilot?) where her dad tries to chat with her in the hallway when she's only in a towel. I almost vomited right there on the couch in fear and embarrassment. And if my dad thinks he's the Mr. Chase of it all, I did not need that secret, horrible insight into my parents' marriage! I spent my personal MSCL marathon cringing at all of the awkward moments because the wounds are still raw and my fairytale childhood issues are still unresolved.

2 Birds, 1 Blog: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

Uh, Anonymous: if you still need a best gay friend, I recommend you either go to American University or just hang out in DC for a day. I give you two hours before you're sipping mimosas and shopping with your new gay boyfriend.

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Megan Johnson said...

AHHHH i too wanted to jump off the roof due to the Angela Chase has boobs and her dad flips out issue during the first episode. Sometimes I wish it were the early 90's, and i could wear the boxer short, t shirt, non matching shirt underneath look of angela chase. and ricky's vest festive vest/polyester shirt combos

Kori said...

Yessssssss. I'm only on episode 10, so that leaves me 9 whole episodes to get rip-roaring wasted before the BF gets home tonight.

Side note to Mary: I just watched the Felicity episode and totally forgot that he appeared as the Ranger Rapist.

Side note to everyone: No need to tell me I need a life. Kthanks.

I lv Jordan Catalano said...

I recieved the MSCL box set for Christmas last year. Needless to say I didn't leave my couch for quite some time after that. In the end though they just leave you hanging...I struggle for closure.

Eleanor said...

Um, thank you SO much for reminding me about this show! I used to watch it all the time when it was on tv, and I loved it.

also, thanks for the drinking game to go along with my trip down memory lane. That will make it even more fun!

2 Birds, 1 Blog: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

I think it's almost better that there's no closure. BECAUSE IN LIFE, IS THERE EVER ANY CLOSURE?!?!!? SEEEEEEE????

Slash I sort of wonder if Graham ever cheats on Patty, or if Angela ever gives it to Brian "Brain" Krakow once the meaning of him writing the letter sinks in.

Anonymous said...

I don't want this to happen to you.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/08/21/outing.anonymous.bloggers/index.html

Leah said...

I too love MSCL and thank you for making it DGF b/c I had a hellish week and cannot wait to play!! Yippie!

also, I'm so glad you put this in there ---> "-The soap dispenser in the girl's bathroom is out of soap" :-)
cheers!

2 Birds, 1 Blog: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

I don't want this to happen to you.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/08/21/outing.anonymous.bloggers/index.html


I live in a state of constant fear that someone will out me to my bosses and I'll get fired. Because it's rather easy to figure out who I am. It's really not that big of a secret.

...And now I know how the gayz feel.

Anonymous said...

no it isnt ;)

Brittan said...

"I live in a state of constant fear that someone will out me to my bosses and I'll get fired. Because it's rather easy to figure out who I am. It's really not that big of a secret."

But doesn't that make it sort of exciting?!



MSCL 4 LIFE.

Lindsay said...

FANTASTIC! My So Called Life! I saw this at the video store the other day and was all "I need to have a MSCL Marathon!" And my friend was all, "what?"... and I nearly died. So thank you, for bringing this awesome show back from obscurity.

Anonymous said...

read dfw

Maggie said...

I've never seen that show but I was born in and seem to be unintentionally stuck in the nineties so it seems like a winner!

aboshady said...

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