[[quoteright:315:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/socalledlife_3981.jpeg]]
An American television TeenDrama, created by WinnieHolzman and produced by EdwardZwick and MarshallHerskovitz as a SpiritualSuccessor to their critically acclaimed {{dramedy}} ''Series/{{Thirtysomething}}''. This show about an {{angst}}y high school student, [[MeaningfulName Angela Chase]] (played by ClaireDanes), like, really ''spoke'' to those of us who were teenagers when it aired.

Originally broadcast on [=ABC=] from August 25, 1994, to January 26, 1995, MySoCalledLife is set at the fictional [[MeaningfulName Liberty]] High School, in a suburb of Pittsburgh. It follows the emotional travails of several [[TheSmartGuy self-aware]] [[TVTeen teenagers]]. This critical darling -- all of nineteen episodes -- [[CutShort ended]] with a {{cliffhanger}}.

A typical episode [[TwoLinesNoWaiting featured an A-plot about Angela and a B-plot]] about her [[DotingParent parents Patty and Graham]].

The A-plot was usually based on one of two {{story arc}}s. One arc was about how Angela is torn between two groups of friends: the goody-two-shoes kids she always used to hang out with (most notably Brian and Sharon), versus the trouble-making girl Rayanne and Rickie, the effeminate Puerto Rican boy who served as her sidekick. The other arc was about Angela's obsession with the [[TroubledButCute hot kid]] [[AllGirlsWantBadBoys Jordan Catalano]], who [[ObliviousToLove barely knew she was alive]]. Ironically, [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]] was originally supposed to only be in the show for one episode, but the producers liked actor [[EstrogenBrigade Jared Leto]] so much that they made Angela's crush on him into StoryArc.

In addition, Angela's younger sister Danielle served as part comic relief, and part sardonic observer of Angela's {{angst}}.

One of the most bleakly funny shows ever aired, it showed how much bitterness can result from a completely ordinary day at high school where nothing in particular goes wrong. Often the show took a comic plot (usually ASimplePlan) and subverted it by playing it for [[RuleOfDrama drama]] (and, arguably, [[TruthInTelevision realism]]) rather than for [[RuleOfFunny humor]] -- and this was both much funnier and much more painful than it would have been as a comedy.

Also notable for dealing with "hot topics" with relatively little melodrama. Rayanne episodes often involved guns, drugs, etc. but didn't have Angela instantly get involved and ruin her life, as would happen on almost any other TeenDrama.

Compare ''FreaksAndGeeks''.
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!!This show provides examples of:

* EightiesHair: Some of the extras in "The Pilot" can be seen sporting mullets.
* ACupAngst: Angela. One of many things driving her nuts in the episode "The Zit" -- not least because her ex-best-friend Sharon was just voted "[[GagBoobs best hooters]]" in the sophomore class. (Sharon's not pleased with the situation either.)
* AdultsAreUseless: Sometimes averted, sometimes played with, sometimes [[JustifiedTrope justified]]. It's not that adults in the series tend to be idiotic or evil or crazy -- often they're intelligent and well-meaning -- but rather that the adults and teenagers live so much in their own worlds that they are unable to understand much less help one another. For example, in an early episode about a gun brought to school, the teachers and parents are so out of touch about school bullying that any attempts to reach out to their students and children tends to do more damage than good. Definitely TruthInTelevision, as any victim of severe school bullying can attest.
** A lot of the divide is simply Baby Boomer (the adults) vs. early Generation Y'er (the teenagers). Unlike many other teen shows, the adults (refreshingly) are not necessarily portrayed as being "uncool" or "out of touch." However, they grew up in an era where, for example, bullying was simply seen as a "rite of passage" and something the kid was responsible for handling on his own, which is a big part of the reason why they have such a hard time communicating with them about the issue in the gun episode.
** In many instances, however, the Chase parents are shown to be surprisingly in tune to what Angela is going through. Patty, despite having forgotten a lot of aspects of her teenage years (she's in her middle ages, after all), often finds herself reminded of the things she did as a teenager when witnessing Angela's behavior. At which she's more able to identify with her.
* AgeAppropriateAngst
* TheAlcoholic: Rayanne's mother, Amber Vallon. And [[spoiler: Rayanne herself.]]
* AllLoveIsUnrequited: Well, ''almost'' all. See also LoveDodecahedron, below.
* AllOfTheOtherReindeer:
** The school is full of bullies who pick on Brian and Rickie.
** On a more abstract level ... everyone is Rudolf and everyone is AllOfTheOtherReindeer. Even the most popular characters are, at ''some'' point or another, victims of various sorts of bullying; even Brian and Rickie have their moments as bullies (although generally more out of social awkwardness than cruel intent). The show has neither any [[MarySue all-good]] nor any all-evil characters; each character we get to know has strengths and weaknesses, moments of moral glory and moments of moral shame. See also GreyAndGrayMorality, below.
* AmbiguouslyGay:
** Rickie Vasquez, [[spoiler: in that he doesn't "come out" for most of the series.]]
** One of the teachers, [[spoiler: Richard Katimski,]] when we first meet him. [[spoiler: Later, an example of StraightGay.]]
* AndStarring: Tom Irwin as Graham, the only actor who appears out-of-sequence (alphabetical order) in the opening credits (the only other adult, Bess Armstrong as Patty, appears first anyway).
* AngerBornOfWorry: A mostly-low-key and non-romantic example would be Patty's and Graham's reaction when Angela returns from a night out looking as if she might have been attacked. (In actuality, she just slipped in the mud.)
* {{Angst}}
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: [[strike: Jordan Catalano's]] [[strike: Brain's]] Brian's LoveLetterLunacy to Angela.
* AnnoyingYoungerSibling:
** Danielle, as far as Angela is concerned.
** To some extent inverted in that Angela is often a deliberately-annoying older sister to Danielle. But since the series is told ([[ADayInTheLimeLight mostly]]) through Angela's eyes...
* AxesAtSchool: Rickie's cousin brings a gun to school in one episode, where it accidentally goes off. Brian, who's thought to be an eyewitness, ends up seeing a lot of unwanted attention over the incident.
* BathroomStallOfOverheardInsults
* BestYearsOfYourLife: Subverted all over the place. Angela exemplifies the suckiness of high school life, while Danielle exemplifies the suckiness of childhood. In an ironic twist, their parents probably have more fun and fulfilling lives than either of them (though certainly not without their own sets of problems and issues).
* BetaCouple:
** Sharon Cherski and Kyle Vinnovich.
** Patty and Graham (Angela's parents).
** [[spoiler: Potentially Graham and his "annoying" classmate Hallie Lowenthal.]]
* BettyAndVeronica:
** Most notably, Brian (as Betty) and [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]] (as Veronica). Not a standard example, in that Angela (as Archie) no longer has much tolerance for Brian, even as a friend. See WhatCouldHaveBeen / WordOfGod, below.
** To some extent, Sharon (as Betty) and Rayanne (as Veronica) are vying to be the HeterosexualLifePartners version.
** In ''Life of Brian'' Delia (as Betty) and Angela (as Veronica) are Brian's choices. He chooses…poorly.
* BittersweetEnding
* BookDumb: To use one of the episode titles, "Why Can't Jordan Read?" (He probably has dyslexia or some related learning disorder.)
* BrattyHalfpint: Danielle, Angela's kid sister -- at least as far as Angela is concerned.
* BrattyTeenageDaughter: Angela certainly has her moments.
* BreatherEpisode: The [[AndNowForSomethingCompletelyDifferent sitcommy]] ''Weekend''.
* BrokenBird: Rayanne.
* ButIWouldReallyEnjoyIt: Angela's deeply ambivalent about having sex with Jordan Catalano. So much so that she can go from one extreme to the other mid-paragraph.
* CallBack: Sometimes for dramatic purposes, sometimes comic. An example of the latter: in the episode ''Betrayal,'' Rayanne snarks about the play "OurTown" -- [[HypocriticalHumor before auditioning]] for the part of Emily -- "It's just a stupid play. Dead people come back and visit. Like that's really gonna happen." This is two episodes after ''[[DoTheyKnowItsChristmasTime So-Called Angels.]]''
* CampGay: Rickie Vasquez is a borderline example -- not quite StraightGay, not quite CampGay.
* CatchPhrase: Perhaps the most famous one is "In my humble opinion," tossed around both by Angela and by her mother Patty. [[{{Lampshading}} Lampshaded]] late in the series when Rickie uses it and Rayanne tells him not to sound like Angela.
* ChainedToABed: In the penultimate episode ''Weekend.'' HilarityEnsues. Twice.
* CharacterDevelopment: An astonishing amount for just nineteen episodes.
* ChickMagnet:
** [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]].
** Less conspicuously, Graham (Angela's father), although he was invisible to girls back in high school.
* ChildrenAreInnocent: Danielle, Angela's kid sister. For the most part, but played with. With ample justification, she complains, "My life is totally edited": her parents and Angela try as best they can to keep her in the dark about ... well ... anything and everything one would try to keep a kid in the dark about. Yet sometimes Danielle [[CovertPervert makes offhanded remarks that shock and embarrass her parents]] -- although it's far from clear how much of what she's saying she actually understands.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience:
** A striking single-character example: At the start of the series, Angela [[DyeingForYourArt dyed her hair]] a [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair very unnatural]] [[HeroesWantRedheads shade]] of "[[FieryRedhead crimson glow]]," signifying the abrupt start of her teen rebellion and her attempt to remake her life. As the series progressed, and [[CharacterDevelopment Angela edged back a bit from her most extreme behavior]], her hair began to drift back toward its original color.
** Rayanne and Sharon, who are essentially Angela's BettyAndVeronica of HeterosexualLifePartners.
* ControlFreak:
** Brian. His parents are even worse, allegedly.
** Patty (Angela's mother).
** Sharon Cherski, at least to her [[TheDitz clueless boyfriend]], Kyle.
* CoolBigSis:
** Played with. Danielle both admires and resents Angela, but Angela finds Danielle annoying.
** Sometimes Angela's friends (and former friends) take on this role with Danielle -- during which times, Angela quietly simmers with a jealousy she can't explain to herself.
** This is also Angela's initial reaction toward Rayanne's mother.
* CoolTeacher: "Vic Racine," the titular character in the episode ''The Substitute,'' was able to out-cool even Jordan Catalano.
* CovertPervert: Sharon's mother, Camille Cherski.
* CutShort: It received a season finale, but then it was canceled.
* ADayInTheLimelight: A few, but most clearly the episode ''Life of Brian.''
** The other episode narrated by someone other than Angela is the penultimate episode ''Weekend,'' narrated by Danielle.
** [[DoTheyKnowItsChristmasTime Christmas episode]] ''So-Called [[MeaningfulName Angels]]'' maintains its central focus on Angela, but for the first time Rickie gets ADayInTheLimelight, of sorts. He gets a few more before the end of the series.
* DeadAllAlong: A minor character in the DoTheyKnowItsChristmasTime episode.
* DeadpanSnarker: Almost everyone.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of the TeenDrama genre.
* DialogueReversal
* DisappearedDad:
** Rayanne's.
** Rickie's biological father.
** Angela's mother Patty was adopted; she's never met her biological parents.
* TheDitz: A mild example: Kyle, Sharon's perpetually clueless boyfriend.
** A less mild -- and far more grating -- example: Cheryl Fleck.
* DoggedNiceGuy: Brian. [[spoiler: Subverted, in that Angela winds up with [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano.]]]]
* DoTheyKnowItsChristmasTime
* DotingParent: Angela's parents, Patty and Graham. Especially Graham -- or at least, he's better at ducking the unpopular, but necessary, role of disciplinarian. (Much to Patty's consternation.) Angela's going through a phase where she finds her doting parents [[{{wangst}} annoying]], but her friends, who have more serious family issues, are envious.
* DramaticPause: The characters often pause mid-sentence, giving the dialogue a lurching and improvisational feel, even if the line is otherwise constructed very elegantly. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] when Rickie mimicks Mr. Katimski, who is probably the most {{egregious}} offender. But all the major characters did this a lot. In the case of [[BookDumb Jordan Catalano]], it was used to highlight how he was fumbling to come up with something, anything, to say. That lurching sensation, mentioned before ... was further heightened by having the actors ... pause at just the right point in the sentence that the apparent meaning being expressed ... seemed to change after the pause.
--> '''Angela-V.O.''': I felt like a really shallow person, because I ''was''. (long DramaticPause) Hungry.
* {{Dramedy}}
* TheDulcineaEffect: It ''is'' HighSchool, after all.
** Angela's attraction to Jordan "He Leans Great" Catalano.
** [[AgeAppropriateAngst More tragically,]] Rayanne seems to be unable to sustain any sort of lasting or deep connection with [[GoodBadGirl any of her love interests]].
* DVDCommentary: Alas, not on many episodes. Maybe some day.
* DyeingForYourArt: Claire Danes, as Angela Chase. Both the actress and the character naturally had dark blonde hair, but in the first episode Angela dyes hers "crimson glow."
** In-universe example: When Angela's little sister Danielle dresses up as Angela for Halloween, she dyes her hair the same color.
* TheEeyore: Brian.
* ExtremeDoormat:
** Brian, especially in anything involving Angela, but he at least has the self-awareness to be irked about it.
** Rickie, prior to his CharacterDevelopment (see under FavouritismFlipFlop).
* FakeVideoCameraView: Brian being yearbook photographer gives us a few instances of this...including the one mentioned in MaleGaze, below.
* FavouritismFlipFlop:
** In the earliest episodes, this was one of Rickie's trademarks -- almost but not quite to the point of HypocriticalHumor -- as he was always seeking approval and didn't have much confidence in his own opinions (or thoughts or feelings or self-worth or ...) (As the series progressed and [[CharacterDevelopment Rickie developed more of a backbone,]] he relied on this less and less.)
** Angela did this a lot, too.
* FemaleGaze: Most notably, how Angela views [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]].
* FieryRedhead
** [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial Certainly not Angela]]! Because, first, she's just DyeingForYourArt; second, her hair is ''not'' red, it's "crimson glow," thank you ''so'' much for noticing; third ... oh gawwd, how can you say such a thing?
** Also Sharon Cherski, at times.
** Hallie Lowenthal, although compared with Sharon and especially Angela she's more "feisty" than "fiery."
* {{Flashback}}: Used occasionally, usually to time periods years before the series takes place.
* FiveManBand
** Angela: TheLeader
** Sharon: TheLancer
** Brian: TheSmartGuy
** Rayanne: TheBigGuy In the context of day-to-day teen social warfare, name someone tougher.
** Rickie: TheChick, and not because he's gay.
** Jordan: TheSixthRanger
* {{Foil}}:
** Rayanne and Sharon each fill this role for Angela. And, in the process, for each other.
** In some ways, Rickie and Brian are each the {{foil}} for the other.
** Two substitute English teachers wind up as {{foil}}s to each other, in retrospect, although one is gone by the time the other arrives.
** Sharon's mother (Camille) and Rayanne's mother (Amber), with each other and especially with Angela's mother (Patty).
* FormerFriendOfAlphaBitch: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]]. Angela and Sharon - who were best friends throughout childhood - have a falling out in the first episode, but they simply become estranged after that (in fact, both of them treat their ''other'' childhood friend [[ButtMonkey Brian]] far worse than they treat each other). Partway through the first season they reconcile, and from then on they grow closer again, with Sharon reclaiming her position as Angela's best friend after Rayanne commits the "betrayal" (though [[OddFriendship Sharon and Rayanne become friends as well]]).
* FullNameBasis: Jordan Catalano is usually called "Jordan Catalano." Sometimes he's called "[[LastNameBasis Catalano]]." He's almost never called "Jordan."
* GagBoobs - Sharon Cherski, in the episode ("The Zit") wherein an anonymous poll designates her as having the "best hooters" of all the sophomores in the school. As is typical of the show, it's played for {{angst}} as well as humor.
* GenkiGirl
** Rayanne Graff and her mother, Amber Vallon; Hallie Lowenthal; Cheryl Fleck; Delia Fisher.
** Sharon Cherski is a much calmer instance, as is her mother, Camille.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: As if the science room scene in ''Life of Brian'' weren't blatant enough (when Delia brushes Brian's hand, his thoughts to the viewer are "Finally! An erection from actual physical contact!"). However, within the context of the scene, the next line is funnier and much subtler. Delia is having Brian explain paramecia to her, and she's just bent down to look through a microscope, so naturally her next question to him is: "What are the little hairy things around the edges?", and it takes Brian a second or two to break out of his daydream.
* TheGhost:
** [[OnlyOneName Tino]], who seems to be barely off-screen in almost every episode -- and who often plays an active (if invisible) role in the plot. This became a running joke among the writers, and was referenced in the movie Juno.
** To a lesser extent, Andy Cherski, father to Sharon and husband to Camille.
** Rickie's cousin -- the one who brought the gun to school. He gets mentioned a lot, for someone we never see and [[NoNameGiven whose name we never learn]].
** The Chases often discuss their pet cat, but we never see it or any traces of its presence in their house. It must be ''very'' shy.
* GirlNextDoor: Angela, as far as Brian is concerned. [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Literal]] as well as [[LoveInterest figurative]] example. [[spoiler: A SubvertedTrope, in that Angela winds up with Jordan.]]
* GoodBadGirl: Rayanne Graff. Or at least the image she tries to project.
* GreyAndGreyMorality: No one on the show is outright evil; no one on the show is [[MarySue without flaws]]. People just struggle to get by, and, as often as not, wind up hurting one another. [[XMeetsY High school, as seen by]] Creator/AntonChekhov. See also, AllOfTheOtherReindeer, above, although that's specifically about bullying, which is only one subset of the issues tackled in the series.
* HalloweenEpisode: Complete with the ghosts of long-dead teenagers.
* HappilyMarried: Angela's parents, Patty and Graham. Definitely married, but [[MoodWhiplash how happily can vary from episode to episode and scene to scene]].
* HardDrinkingPartyGirl: Rayanne Graff and her mother, Amber Vallon.
* HighSchool: Much of the show is set at the fictional Liberty High.
* HighSchoolDance: The World Happiness Dance in ''Life of Brian.''
* HilarityEnsues: [[AvertedTrope Averted]], at least to the extent that such events on the show tend to transpire in a [[TruthInTelevision realistic]] [[RuleOfDrama manner]] rather than follow traditional sitcom logic.
** An exception: the penultimate episode, "Weekend," which is a [[StealthPun low-key]] farce. The change was deliberate.
* HollywoodNerd: Brian Krakow.
* HotBlooded: Angela. Rayanne. Sometimes Sharon.
* HypocriticalHumor: Almost everyone caught themselves in this at least once in a while. Usually played in a [[TruthInTelevision realistic]] and [[TheSmartGuy self-aware]] manner.
* IHaveManyNames: [[CoolTeacher Substitute teacher "Vic Racine."]] [[spoiler: Being on the run from the law will do that.]]
* ImportantHaircut - Patty (Angela's mother), in the episode she and Graham (Angela's father) take up ballroom dancing. Leads to a quarrel between them ... or seems to but [[spoiler: that may have been just a pretext, as Graham had already been thinking about having an affair with a woman he knew from work.]]
* IncompatibleOrientation: Delia Fisher admits to Rickie that she has a huge crush on him despite knowing he's gay in their final scene.
* InformedJudaism: Brian Krakow and Hallie Lowenthal.
* InnocentProdigy: Angela's younger sister Danielle. Bonus points for being one of the few characters who really appreciates Brian as the LovableNerd he is.
* InsufferableGenius:
** How Rayanne regards Brian. [[CharacterDevelopment At first]].
** Possibly how just about everyone in school regards Brian. Including at least one of the teachers.
* IronicEcho
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Several examples, none of them ever actually stated out loud. The [[CutShort last]] and most heartbreaking is [[spoiler: when Brian decides to try PlayingCyrano to win Angela back for his rival Jordan Catalano.]]
* {{Jerkass}}: While no one in the series is completely evil, among all the characters, the closest is the principal who tries to expell Brian just to save the school from a PR problem and doesn't even seem to care about catching whoever really brought the gun to school.
* JerkJock: None of the major characters (Kyle is a classic jock but not a jerk), but several of the bullies.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Jordan Catalano.
* KidsAreCruel: Well, HighSchool students anyway.
* KissingWarmUp: Danielle catches Angela kissing the mirror.
* {{Kuudere}}: In a weird way ... Brian. He tends to go quiet or get [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]], but he really does care about people.
* LastNameBasis: Almost all the high school students.
* LikeIsLikeAComma
* LovableAlphaBitch: Sharon is an early [[SubvertedTrope subversion]] of TheLibby trope - although she's popular, good-looking (with the "best hooters" in the sophomore class), a cheerleader, and dating a football player, she's also nice as pie and friendly with virtually the entire student body, including all the outcasts.
* LovableNerd: Brian.
* LoveDodecahedron:
** Danielle and Delia each have a crush on Brian, who has a crush on Angela, who has a crush on Jordan.
** After Delia's crush on Brian crashes and burns, she develops a crush on Rickie, who is gay.
** At first Rickie seems to have had a crush on [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]] -- who's interested in Rickie's friend Angela. Later Rickie develops a crush on an AmbiguouslyGay classmate named Corey -- who's at least ostensibly interested in Rickie's other friend Rayanne.
* LoveHurts: A central theme of the show. [[AllLoveIsUnrequited Even for those few whose love is reciprocated.]] Even for those in happy marriages -- or outwardly happy marriages.
* LoveLetterLunacy: Twice: first a love letter from Angela "to" [[FullNameBasis Jordon Catalano]] ([[HilarityEnsues but never intended for his eyes]]); later one from [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]] ([[PlayingCyrano or rather from "Jordan"]]) to Angela. In the first instance, a mortified Angela tries to backpedal and convince Jordan it was simply a MistakenMessage to her ex-boyfriend. Whom she's trying to keep a secret. Because [[InsaneTrollLogic he died.]] In the second instance, the missive in question also qualifies as an AnguishedDeclarationOfLove. [[PlayingCyrano From Brian]].
* LoveMakesYouDumb: Even if you're a TeenGenius, like Brian. Worse yet, the characters usually fully realize even in the moment that they're being dumb and just can't help themselves.
-->'''Brian''' ''(right after he uses a lame excuse to dump Delia Fisher)'': Of all the stupid things I've said -- which are, like, countless -- I've never wanted to take something back more than that one.
* LoveMartyr: Angela and Brian are both in the thrall of unhealthy love. For Angela, Jordan is unconsciously her project, someone that she thinks she can change, and her devotion to this hopeless cause leads her to sacrifice her self-respect (and common sense,) on several occasions. Brian is in love with a girl who barely gives him the time of day. While it's true that there is some underlying tension between Angela and Brian, her obsession with Jordan Catalano means that Brian hasn't a hope in hell, and he knows it - but he clings on regardless, even sacrificing a potential girlfriend in the form of Delia Fisher, hoping that Angela will come to her senses and notice him.
* MagicRealism: Most notably in the episode ''Halloween'' and the DoTheyKnowItsChristmasTime episode ''So-Called Angels.''
* MaleGaze: For the most part, [[AvertedTrope averted]]. (See FemaleGaze, above.) When the show uses it, it's nearly always to highlight that the shot is from Brian's point of view.For example, in ''Betrayal'', we get a few POV shots from a camera operated by Brian, and one shot is aimed directly at Sharon's chest.
* ManipulativeBastard: No evil examples, but there's a lot of TruthInTelevision-level manipulation and counter-manipulation, much of it below the level of consciousness. It's a passive-aggressive world.
* MeaningfulEcho: The phrase "Oh, my God!" gets tossed around from character to character, scene to scene, episode to episode, and it usually is a way of highlighting who is noticing whom. This is most evident in a pivotal scene in the ADayInTheLimelight episode ''Life Of Brian.''
* MeaningfulName:
** Angela Chase. As in pursuit, of her own identity. Note that she's also running in the opening credits.
** Brian, aka "Brain," Jordan Catalano's nickname for him.
** "Vic [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Racine Racine]]."
** [[{{Irony}} Liberty]] High.
* MissingMom:
** Possibly Rickie's mother.
** As mentioned above at DisappearedDad, Patty is adopted and has not met her biological parents.
* MistakenMessage: Angela tries to cover up for a humiliating LoveLetterLunacy incident by pretending it's just a case of this.
* MoodSwinger: Angela and Rayanne.
* MoodWhiplash / MoodDissonance
* {{Narrator}}: Usually Angela. Brian in the episode ''Life of Brian.'' Danielle in ''Weekend''.
* NewTransferStudent: Delia Fisher.
* {{Nice Jewish Boy}}: Brian.
* NoPeriodsPeriod: In one episode, Patty thinks she may be pregnant.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: In the case of [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]], it's difficult to know how much is acting cool, how much (if any) is actual stupidity, and how much is learning disorders. [[TruthInTelevision As is often the case,]] a lot of it is cyclical.
* ObliviousToLove
** Angela toward Brian, until the love note incident.
** Jordan Catalano toward Angela (at first).
** Brian toward Danielle, although it's [[BrattyHalfpint not as if that had any chance]] of [[{{Squick}} going anywhere]] anyway.
** Rickie toward Delia; same result as Brian/Danielle, [[StraightGay different reason]].
** Brian toward Delia, at first.
* OddFriendship: This is surprisingly common, and perhaps the most optimistic thing about the show. The events of the pilot are set in motion by Angela forming one of these, with Rayanne, but there are several other important ones:
** Sharon and Rayanne.
** Brian and Rickie.
** Brian and Jordan.
** Rickie and Delia.
* OfficialCouple: Angela and Jordan.
* OneSceneTwoMonologues
* OnlyChildSyndrome: Of the seven youth regulars, only three have siblings: Brian, whose older sister is mentioned to live in Denver, and Angela and Danielle, who are sisters. The other four are only children. Note that the six teenagers were all born in about 1980, at the beginning of what is known as the "Echo Boom", when many Boomers settled down and had families of their own, and birthrates started rising again (in other words, their having siblings would be more realistic).
* OnlyOneName: Tino, who is also TheGhost.
* ParentsAsPeople: Patty and Graham are defining examples of this trope.
* PlayingCyrano: Brian, for Jordan.
* PluckyComicRelief: A few. Most notably Rickie and Rayanne. Danielle at times.
* SarcasmMode: Everyone's favorite mode. Even Brian, although, [[LovableNerd dork that he is]], he often gets confused at the sarcasm of others.
* SchoolPlay: ''OurTown''; drawn out over more than one episode. The actual performance was never seen, due to the show's cancellation.
* SelectiveObliviousness: Everyone at one time or another.
* ASimplePlan: Subverted. (See HilarityEnsues, above.)
* SliceOfLife
* TheSmartGuy: The series has no shortage of intelligent and almost painfully articulate characters, but Brian seems to be the one to beat. Evidently he takes after his parents, who are both psychiatrists.
* StalkerWithACrush: How Angela views Brian in her less patient moments. That is, when she's not [[SelectiveObliviousness being]] utterly [[ObliviousToLove oblivious]].
** [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in the final episode, when Brian [[spoiler:accidentally confesses to Angela that he's PlayingCyrano behind "Jordan's" beautiful love letter to her.]]
* StepfordSmiler: As mentioned in the DVDCommentary, the episode ''Other People's Mothers'' provides us with three generations (and three different versions) of this -- first and foremost, Angela's mother Patty; second, Patty's (adopted) mother Vivian; third, Angela herself, who is just beginning to shift into this mode, [[MoodSwinger although it's hardly her default setting]].
* {{Story Arc}}s: A few for Angela and her friends, a few for her parents, with some crisscrossing.
* StraightGay:
** One of the teachers at Liberty High, [[spoiler: Richard Katimski]].
** Rickie Vasquez, although he has more than a few flourishes of CampGay.
* SupremeChef: Graham, Angela's father. Starts out as a quirky-[[TragicDream sad]] backstory detail but evolves into a major StoryArc.
* SuspiciouslySpecificDenial (combined with YouJustToldMe): In the heat of an argument with Angela, Brian indirectly and very much inadvertently confesses to his role PlayingCyrano in a LoveLetterLunacy. As is typical of the series, it's at least as much a TearJerker moment as a comic one.
* TeenDrama: Both a {{Deconstruction}} and a classic in the genre.
* TeenGenius: Brian is an [[TruthInTelevision unusually plausible example]]: not brilliant to an [[TVGenius outrageous degree or in a cliched way]], but he's definitely very book-smart -- [[GirlNextDoor the valedictorian next door]], so to speak. With most of his teachers, Brian's able to parrot back whatever answer they want to hear; he's already taking calculus although he's only a sophomore, and he claims to be doing a "triple minor."
* TimeshiftedActor: [[Series/TheBigBangTheory Kaley]] [[Series/EightSimpleRules Cuoco]] plays "Young Angela" (around age seven) in a {{Flashback}} at the beginning of the episode "Father Figures."
** A few episodes later, in "Strangers In the House," we see another Young Angela with a Young Sharon. (They're about ten.)
* TooDumbToLive: Nicky Driscoll. Less "dumb" per se than "reckless" and "self-destructive."
* TragicDream:
** Angela's father Graham seems to have one about becoming a chef. [[spoiler: May not be so tragic after all.]]
** The show presents much of life this way, and growing up as learning to recognize this.
* TroubledButCute: Jordan Catalano.
* TransparentCloset: Rickie never comes out and says that he's gay until Delia outs him in the last episode. Most of the kids know that he's weird, and is once described as bisexual.
* {{Tsundere}}
** Angela, although less in her romantic relationship(s) than in her friendships.
** Possibly Brian, but he's far more of a {{kuudere}}.
** Sharon Cherski.
* TVGenius: Averted. Brian is a more true-to-life version of this trope.
* TVTeen
* TwoLinesNoWaiting
* TwoScenesOneDialogue: For example, in the episode ''Strangers in the House.''
* TheUnfavorite
** Rickie, a victim of [[AbusiveParent abusive guardians]] (his aunt and uncle) and eventually of [[ParentalAbandonment abandonment]].
** Angela's kid sister Danielle often ''feels'' this way, because Angela is so much better at getting attention. [[DotingParent But in reality, her parents dote on her.]]
* UnintentionalPeriodPiece: Thanks to the ungodly amount of flannel worn.
* UnluckyChildhoodFriend: Brian.
* UnreliableNarrator:
** The narrator (in [[ADayInTheLimelight most]] episodes, Angela) is seldom willfully deceptive -- just [[SelectiveObliviousness selectively oblivious]].
** Sometimes played for nearly simultaneous [[MoodWhiplash humor and pathos]], as when Angela, feeling self-conscious about all the guys staring at her, narrates about how easy high school life is for guys ... only for the camera to pan to [[LovableNerd Brian]] being bullied by his classmates.
* UnresolvedSexualTension: Plenty. But the central UST is between Angela and [[FullNameBasis Jordan Catalano]].
** According to WordOfGod, there's also plenty of UnresolvedSexualTension between [[spoiler:Angela and Brian. Angela rejects Brian (at least for now) in part because she and Brian know each other ''too'' well, and are ''too'' similar, with too much history -- and he's therefore a threat. By contrast, Jordan Catalano is a mystery and not much of an intellectual challenge -- and thus, on some level, he's less threatening as a teen crush. See also WordOfGod / WhatCouldHaveBeen, below.]]
* UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist:
** Angela, at times. [[{{Angst}} Not always played for comedy.]] One always ''loves'' her, but one often ''hates'' her simultaneously.
** Same with Brian in the ADayInTheLimelight episode ''Life of Brian.''
* VerbalTic: Not ''unusual'' expressions, but rather exaggerations, by the show's creators, of common [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_disfluency speech disfluencies and fillers]]. Perhaps the two most ubiquitous examples are the interjection "like" and the phrasal suffix "or something," which are sprinkled liberally into the dialogue of nearly all the teenage characters, seemingly as a way to let them to have poetic or philosophical musings without, like, coming across as pretentious. Or something.
** Both the teenage characters and the adults frequently say "Hi," (or "Hey," or other variations,) even when they are not actually greeting each other. It's used in this show more or less the same way as it had been used in the television series ''Series/{{Thirtysomething}}'' (by some of the same creators / producers): as a way for characters to attempt to affirm or to reestablish intimacy (or sometimes just a pretense of intimacy) in the midst of a conversation.
* VerySpecialEpisode: ''So-Called Angels,'' guest-starring Juliana Hatfield as the [[LongLostUncleAesop magic homeless angel]].
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: How some (including Brian and later possibly [[spoiler: Angela]]) see [[CoolTeacher "Vic]] [[IHaveManyNames Racine"]].
* WellDoneSonGuy:
** Rickie is a [[TearJerker heartbreaking]] example.
** Brian.
** Patty (Angela's mother) is the DistaffCounterpart -- Well Done Daughter Gal?
* WhamLine: Patty's conversation with the homeless girl in ''So-Called Angels'' is going fairly normally until she suddenly realizes what's going on and asks [[spoiler:"How did you die?"]]
* WildTeenParty: Several. But not as wild as you might expect from a TeenDrama.
* YouGottaHaveBlueHair: Or, in Angela's case, you gotta have "[[InsistentTerminology crimson glow]]" hair. See also ColorCodedForYourConvenience and DyeingForYourArt, above.
* YouJustToldMe: Brian traps himself in one of these during a quarrel with Angela. See SuspiciouslySpecificDenial, above.
* YouSuck: A [[{{wangst}} not-always-comic]] example.
* ZipMeUp: In the last episode, Delia has Rickie zip up her jacket...just moments before she opens his [[TransparentCloset closet door]].
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