Its run was short and its ratings were lackluster, but fans still remember My So-Called Life as a jewel of a show, the one Hollywood execs called “the most painfully honest portrayal of adolescence ever on television.”
Claire Danes was 13 and undiscovered when the pilot was shot, and 15 when the final episode aired. She played the lead, high school sophomore Angela Chase, and looked like a teenager because she was one, living through the awkward changes she was tasked with bringing to life on screen.
I was a fan. I don’t remember how I found the show, or why I tuned in, but soon my friends and I were all watching it, drawn in by the earnest portrayal of our lives on the small screen. My So-Called Life portrayed teenagers without patronizing them; its characters were rich and layered. (And the casting was excellent.)
We were devastated when our favorite show was canceled after a mere 19 episodes, despite a passionate grassroots campaign.
(I’m glad we didn’t know then that it’s likely the real reason it didn’t get renewed was that Danes wanted to leave, but it wouldn’t be fare to blame her for that. She was just a teenager, after all.)
Critics say it’s not all bad news the show got canceled: it didn’t have time to go stale or endure awkward growing pains, it never had a chance to jump the shark. It will live forever because it was perfect while it lasted.
I don’t know if I agree with that (because the cliffhanger ending was a little cruel), but I do think it’s time for a re-watch.
Were you a fan back in the day? Have you re-watched it since? Tell us in comments.
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This is the twenty-sixth post in a series, 31 Days of Cult Classics. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.