Put an angsty finger in the air if you remember and loved My So-Called Life. At a time when the most important things in the world were best friends and boys and screaming at my mom, this show spoke to my soul. It had a short run, but every few years I watch its one-little-season-that-could, and I love it just a little bit more. It hit so many relationship dynamics on the head.
In case you forgot, here are some quick descriptions of the ladies. And then I want to know – Which So-Called Girl Are You?
Angela Chase (played by Claire Danes): “Sometimes it seems like we’re all living in some kind of prison. And the crime is how much we hate ourselves. It’s good to get really dressed up once in a while. And admit the truth: that when you really look closely? People are so strange and so complicated that they’re actually…beautiful. Possibly even me.”
Angela Chase falls in the category of most dramatic teenager ever. Her ability to over-hyper-analyze every situation is perfection. Her inner monologues straddled the line between poetic and psycho, but somehow, on the outside, she appeared average. She had an obsessive crush on a guy who was out of her league, yet she proved herself to be too good for him. She struggled with her looks, her friendships, her parents, her sister, her neighbor, her schoolwork, her teachers, her hair…Basically she could turn any situation into a major life crisis. And call me cynical but I found Angela’s constant fighting with her mother completely cathartic.
Rayanne Graff (played by A.J. Langer): “People throwing themselves at people is, like, the basis of civilization.”
Rayanne was the coolest. She never wore her hair the same way twice, dressed like she stepped right out of an awesome 60‘s/90’s fusion music video, and didn’t give a “F.” Okay, so that last part was also a major flaw. Due to a non-existent relationship with her absentee father and a non-conventional relationship with her tarot card reading, free bird mother, she developed a drinking problem, which she often mixed with sex and drug problems. She exuded uber self confidence, but those who knew her well knew that she was more often dealing with self-consciousness. Although she often didn’t know how to show it, she loved her best friends. She made plenty of bad decisions where they were concerned (worst of which being the time she drunkenly slept with the love of Angela’s high school life), but you almost felt bad for her when she did these things – Like maybe she didn’t know any better? And there were plenty of times when her loyalty to her friends shined through, mostly when no one was looking.
Sharon Cherski (played by Devon Odessa): “I think it really all comes down to what they kept drilling into us in Girl Scouts.”
Sharon was Angela’s best friend growing up, but their interests and attitudes caused them to drift apart through the years. Sharon was on the yearbook committee, in the band, and a volunteer at the Teen Hotline. She was not a huge fan of Rayanne, or of Angela’s choice to befriend her. I always thought she was jealous of the girl who took her best friend away. She appeared the most “goody two shoes” of all of the ladies, often making comments and killer facial expressions towards Angela’s rumored (and Rayanne’s self-proclaimed) promiscuity, but in actuality she lost her virginity way before Angela to her on-again/off-again boyfriend Kyle. Sharon even knows where “The Pleasure Center” is. She seemed to have a relatively healthy relationship with her mother, who was close friends with Angela’s mother.
Patty Chase (played by Bess Armstrong): “And I’ll bet the karma at Amber’s house is just through the damn roof.”
When I was a teenager watching MSCL I hated Angela’s mom. She was just an annoying mother. But something has shifted, and now I feel compelled to put her on this list because the older I get, the more I relate with her. With the infinite wisdom that only a mother has, she was able to see the bigger picture, and her main goal was to keep her family happy. She knew Rayanne was trouble, she predicted Jordan Catalano was only going to break Angela’s heart, she knew Brian Krakow was a good boy (and kind of a loser), and she figured out quickly that Rickie Vasquez was a kind, lost soul. She never tried to be a “cool mom” like Rayanne’s mother Amber. She was often the villain in Angela’s life, but she stepped into that role willingly, hoping that the end result would someday be appreciation. She was always beautiful growing up and struggled with the aging process of a woman. And sidenote, while it used to gross me out back then, I now kinda love that the parents on this show were not afraid to get sexy with each other.
Danielle Chase (played by Lisa Wilhoit) : “Am I allowed to have a feeling in this house? Or is that just Angela?”
Danielle was Angela’s little sister. You know that little girl or boy whose older sibling is so cool and has such cool friends and does cool things and commands the attention of their parents, leaving said little sibling to feel consistently neglected? That’s Danielle. She wanted to be her older sister so much she literally was her for Halloween. She had a crush on the geeky neighbor next door, and was jealous of his crush on her sister. She was a daddy’s girl and while she respected her mother more than Angela, it was clear Danielle was on the cusp of being Patty’s second teenage nightmare.
Of course there were some quality males on the show, too, including a nerdy neighbor with a crush on Angela, a somewhat androgynous gay best friend, the sexiest but perhaps not the brightest teenager in the tri-state area, and a dad with a sometimes wandering eye and knack for cooking.
When I first watched this show in the nineties I was a Danielle who wanted to be an Angela. In high school I was definitely an Angela, although I wanted to be a Rayanne with the boobs of a Sharon. Now, so many years later, I’m more of an Angela mixed with a Patty. And I did get the boobs of a Sharon, so mark that as a win. In all scenarios I wanted to make out with a Jordan.
Now that you’ve had a refresher course on the characters of MSCL, tell me – Which So-Called Girl Are You? Turn off the lights, put on a Cranberries cd, lie on your bed and analyze yourself until you figure it out. Go now, go.