ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Entertainment and Media»
  • Television & TV Shows

Through My Eyes, Your Eyes, Their Eyes: An Analysis of "My So-Called Life"

Updated on March 29, 2015
social thoughts profile image

I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.

Lockers. Published on 11 May 2013 Stock photo - Image ID: 100165566
Lockers. Published on 11 May 2013 Stock photo - Image ID: 100165566 | Source

The television series My So-Called Life created by Winnie Holzman came out in 1994. I was a bit young to probably understand it since I would have been six years old. I began watching it after getting into Jared Leto, a few years ago. To my surprise, what interested me the most in the show were the other characters, and how each one goes through something linked to a social issue. So, this article will examine those issues in relation to the character, the show, and real-life society.

Have you seen "My So-Called Life?"

See results

Romantic Expectations

Angela Chase (Claire Danes) lives vicariously through her friends, but her front-row seat to their problems teaches her about real life. For the most part, she is sheltered from genuine tragedy. What we do see Angela struggle with is the peer pressure to have sex. In the end, she refuses to go with the crowd to fit in, and while it costs her the new relationship with Jordan, it gives her confidence she may not be aware she has.

Today, surprisingly, less teens are having sex at a young age. According to Guttmacher Institute, statistics from May 2014 show most sexual activity occurs around 17-20 years old, and usually exclusively within committed relationships. Perhaps, more teens were having sex in the 90s, compared to today, but that doesn't make sexual activity at a young age any less of an important subject.

Objectification

Sharon Cherski (Devon Odessa) appears to be the most together teenager there is. She is such an optimistic person that everyone wants to be her friend—even those who do not agree with her—her parents are still together, she's physically attractive, and has a jock boyfriend, Kyle (Johnny Green). In one episode, some students have put together a poll for its classmates. Sharon made the list of winners because of her body, and it causes her to become insecure, and suspicious of why Kyle is dating her. Although most adults would like to believe the focus on physical attractiveness ends after high school, this isn't true. It continues throughout our lives; otherwise, why would our magazines be filled with beautiful models? Why would there be articles about the impact of physical appearance in interviews that end with a job offer? It's an unfortunate reality that needs to be challenged over and over, until it ceases to be.

Alcohol Bottles
Alcohol Bottles | Source

What would help persuade young people not to drink?

See results

Alcoholism

Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) is Angela's best friend. Within the pilot episode, it becomes clear through Rickie that she gets drunk a lot. Throughout the season, more attention is brought to that part of her character. At one point, she drinks so much that she almost dies. Rayanne begins seeing a counselor; unfortunately, after being sober for a while, she returns to drinking, again, and it leads to ruining her friendship with Angela when she sleeps with Jordan.

Drinking is a common issue for teens and adults alike. A CDC survey from 2013 shows that 35% of high school students had at least some alcohol, and 21% were binge drinking. As someone who has never been very fond of alcohol, I can remember watching videos about drinking as a teen, before events such as the prom. My take has always been that the attempt is in the right place, but the way most programs go about helping teens has been made into a big joke. I'm not sure what the solution is. No pun intended!

Jordan:...I'm a rudimentary reader with low-literacy skills...

Learning Disabilities

Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) has a learning disability. It isn't until a free-thinking teacher, Mr. Victor Racine (Roger Rees) challenges Jordan's "act" that he just "doesn't care," that Jordan begins to enjoy school. Also, Angela encourages Jordan to attend class so he isn't expelled, throughout the season, and later realizes his difficulty with reading. Jordan's popularity in Liberty High School as the "bad boy" would show that even emotionally tough people can have learning disabilities, and improve their situation.

As someone with a learning disability who was in special education classes for most of her education up until graduating high school, I have seen my fellow special students behave as though they just don't care about their schooling, and this could be true; however, if they didn't care, why would they ask me for the answers once the teacher left for a few minutes? Yes, this happened fairly frequently. My response was always to offer to help show them how to do it rather than merely give them the answers. So, this act of "I don't care" seems to be nothing more than a front to hide one's insecurities.

LGBT

In the beginning of the season, Enrique "Rickie" Vasquez (Wilson Cruz) admits to being bisexual, and proudly wears eyeliner, but by the end he acknowledges that he is really homosexual, after realizing his disinterest in dating girls. Finding our true orientation can take some time, even for mostly-heterosexual people. As a character, Rickie is constantly struggling to accept himself for who he is because he has been bullied so frequently.

Mr. Richard Katimski (Jeff Perry) is, at first, Rickie's least-favorite teacher; so much so that he does imitations of him for his friends. When Mr. Katimski appreciates Rickie's acting ability by suggesting he join drama club, which he runs, and encourages the use of Rickie's birth name "Enrique" by saying the heartfelt quote, "Nobody should hate who they are," it changes Rickie's view of himself.

Violence

Rickie's home is one of domestic violence, and school is a place of destruction as well. His friends help him to cope by taking his mind off his problems. In fact, Rickie tends to focus on being there for those who have been there for him. In one episode, he risks destroying his positive reputation by allowing an untrue rumor make him appear threatening in order to scare the bullies away from hurting him, further. Late into the season, the audience and Angela finds out how abusive his uncle is, and that he can't return home.

I have written a few articles on domestic violence in general. Some are from my own experience and others are about the statistics. I would go more in depth on this topic, but it makes more sense to direct you, the reader, to my other posts if you feel so inclined!

Teen Homelessness

Teen homelessness is such a surprisingly common problem that many, including Angela's mother, Patty (Bess Armstrong), don't want to believe it exists. When Angela goes to find Rickie at an abandoned warehouse, where several kids live, Patty is forced to acknowledge the reality of homeless kids, and face her own fears that it could even happen to Angela if they lose their bond as mother and daughter, completely. Likewise, by showing the audience the severity of teen homelessness, society has to face it.

More about this topic can be found in my article called "How Stereotypes Hurt the Homeless."

Manipulation of Minors

Brian Krako (Devon Gummersall) is a straight-A student because he has to be. His life is wrapped around academic success for his parents' approval. He is expected to do everything right, so he is put in the middle of many difficult situations. In the third episode "Guns and Gossip" he is hounded and threatened by the principal to tell on which kids were involved in a gun situation. Thankfully, Brian is so educated that he knows this behavior is inappropriate enough for him to get a lawyer. Teens are often seen as uneducated, but as long as they apply themselves they can know more than the average adult.

Male and Female Symbols
Male and Female Symbols | Source

Gender Roles

Patty Chase owns a printing press and her husband, Graham (Tom Irwin), works for her. After it becomes clear he is unhappy, she fires him to give him the freedom to find what he really wants to do. The power dynamic then becomes the wife as the breadwinner. It may not be set in the 50s, but it still creates imbalance. Unexpectedly, Patty's lack of faith in Graham comes through many times during the season whenever he is succeeding, but she assumes differently.

Gender roles are a significant part of our understanding of socialization. We may prefer to believe we have grown beyond set stereotypes of masculine and feminine, but one can see it seeping through almost everything. Let's not ignore it. Let's try to reprogram our minds!

Marriage and Infidelity

Although, Patty and Graham seem to have a steady marriage, they don't. In the pilot episode, Angela witnesses her father talking with a younger woman in person, and later on the phone. When she mentions this to Rayanne, she is informed that Rayanne's father has had about eight girlfriends since their parents divorced; thereby, showing the two ways to respond to the breaking up of marriage—let it scare you or accept that most don't last. Towards the end of the season, Patty is waiting for Graham to tell her he wants a divorce, when he pursues opening a restaurant with a woman, Hallie Lowenthal (Lisa Waltz), he appears to be a bit too close with. Even though all ends well, the tension between the married couple is enough to guess where it would go had My So-Called Life continued into a second season.

What type of person are you?

See results

These issues are still relevant, today. They all deserve more attention; unfortunately, society is taught not to question the norm of blindly accepting things as they are, even if doing so is the one way to improve them. Will you be the type of person to merely follow these socially accepted circumstances, or will you be the type to challenge them?

© 2015 social thoughts

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • social thoughts profile image
    Author

    social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

    Haha I am glad to inspire you! You're welcome. Thank you for reading!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Never heard of it, but this review will get me to watch it. Thanks, Kailey.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)