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Series: My So-Called Life
An American television Teen Drama, created by Winnie Holzman and produced by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz as a Spiritual Successor to their critically acclaimed dramedy Thirtysomething. This show about an angsty high school student, Angela Chase (played by Claire Danes), 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, My So-Called Life is set at the fictional Liberty High School, in a suburb of Pittsburgh. It follows the emotional travails of several self-aware teenagers. This critical darling — all of nineteen episodes — ended with a cliffhanger.

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

The A-plot was usually based on one of two story arcs. 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 hot kid Jordan Catalano, who barely knew she was alive. Ironically, Jordan Catalano was originally supposed to only be in the show for one episode, but the producers liked actor Jared Leto so much that they made Angela's crush on him into Story Arc.

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 A Simple Plan) and subverted it by playing it for drama (and, arguably, realism) rather than for 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 Teen Drama.

Compare Freaks and Geeks.

This show provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Some of the extras in "The Pilot" can be seen sporting mullets.
  • A-Cup Angst: Angela. One of many things driving her nuts in the episode "The Zit" — not least because her ex-best-friend Sharon was just voted "best hooters" in the sophomore class. (Sharon's not pleased with the situation either.)
  • Adorkable: Delia Fisher
  • Adults Are Useless: Sometimes averted, sometimes played with, sometimes 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 Truth in Television, 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.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst
  • The Alcoholic: Rayanne's mother, Amber Vallon. And Rayanne herself.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Well, almost all. See also Love Dodecahedron, below.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • The school is full of bullies who pick on Brian and Rickie.
    • On a more abstract level ... everyone is Rudolf and everyone is All of the Other Reindeer. 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 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 Grey and Gray Morality, below.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Rickie Vasquez, in that he doesn't "come out" for most of the series.
    • One of the teachers, Richard Katimski, when we first meet him. Later, an example of Straight Gay.
  • And Starring: 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).
  • Anger Born of Worry: 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
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Jordan Catalano's Brain's Brian's Love Letter Lunacy to Angela.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • 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 (mostly) through Angela's eyes...
  • Axes at School: 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.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults
  • Best Years of Your Life: 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).
  • Beta Couple:
    • Sharon Cherski and Kyle Vinnovich.
    • Patty and Graham (Angela's parents).
    • Potentially Graham and his "annoying" classmate Hallie Lowenthal.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Most notably, Brian (as Betty) and 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 What Could Have Been / Word of God, below.
    • To some extent, Sharon (as Betty) and Rayanne (as Veronica) are vying to be the Heterosexual Life-Partners version.
    • In Life of Brian Delia (as Betty) and Angela (as Veronica) are Brian's choices. He chooses…poorly.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Book Dumb: To use one of the episode titles, "Why Can't Jordan Read?" (He probably has dyslexia or some related learning disorder.)
  • Bratty Halfpint: Danielle, Angela's kid sister — at least as far as Angela is concerned.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Angela certainly has her moments.
  • Breather Episode: The sitcommy Weekend.
  • Broken Bird: Rayanne.
  • But I Would Really Enjoy It: 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.
  • Call Back: Sometimes for dramatic purposes, sometimes comic. An example of the latter: in the episode Betrayal, Rayanne snarks about the play "Our Town" — 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 So-Called Angels.
  • Camp Gay: Rickie Vasquez is a borderline example — not quite Straight Gay, not quite Camp Gay.
  • Catch Phrase: Perhaps the most famous one is "In my humble opinion," tossed around both by Angela and by her mother Patty. Lampshaded late in the series when Rickie uses it and Rayanne tells him not to sound like Angela.
  • Chained to a Bed: In the penultimate episode Weekend. Hilarity Ensues. Twice.
  • Character Development: An astonishing amount for just nineteen episodes.
  • Chick Magnet:
    • Jordan Catalano.
    • Less conspicuously, Graham (Angela's father), although he was invisible to girls back in high school.
  • Children Are Innocent: 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 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.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
  • Control Freak:
    • Brian. His parents are even worse, allegedly.
    • Patty (Angela's mother).
    • Sharon Cherski, at least to her clueless boyfriend, Kyle.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • 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.
  • Cool Teacher: "Vic Racine," the titular character in the episode The Substitute, was able to out-cool even Jordan Catalano.
  • Covert Pervert: Sharon's mother, Camille Cherski.
  • Cut Short: It received a season finale, but then it was canceled.
  • A Day in the Limelight: 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.
    • Christmas episode So-Called Angels maintains its central focus on Angela, but for the first time Rickie gets A Day in the Limelight, of sorts. He gets a few more before the end of the series.
  • Dead All Along: A minor character in the Do They Know It's Christmas Time? episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost everyone.
  • Deconstruction: Of the Teen Drama genre.
  • Dialogue Reversal
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Rayanne's.
    • Rickie's biological father.
    • Angela's mother Patty was adopted; she's never met her biological parents.
  • The Ditz: A mild example: Kyle, Sharon's perpetually clueless boyfriend.
    • A less mild — and far more grating — example: Cheryl Fleck.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Brian. Subverted, in that Angela winds up with Jordan Catalano.
  • Do They Know It's Christmas Time?
  • Doting Parent: 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 annoying, but her friends, who have more serious family issues, are envious.
  • Dramatic Pause: The characters often pause mid-sentence, giving the dialogue a lurching and improvisational feel, even if the line is otherwise constructed very elegantly. 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 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 Dramatic Pause) Hungry.
  • Dramedy
  • The Dulcinea Effect: It is High School, after all.
  • DVD Commentary: Alas, not on many episodes. Maybe some day.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: 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.
  • The Eeyore: Brian.
  • Extreme Doormat:
  • Fake Video Camera View: Brian being yearbook photographer gives us a few instances of this...including the one mentioned in Male Gaze, below.
  • Favouritism Flip Flop:
    • In the earliest episodes, this was one of Rickie's trademarks — almost but not quite to the point of Hypocritical Humor — 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 Rickie developed more of a backbone, he relied on this less and less.)
    • Angela did this a lot, too.
  • Female Gaze: Most notably, how Angela views Jordan Catalano.
  • Fiery Redhead
    • Certainly not Angela! Because, first, she's just Dyeing for Your Art; 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.
  • Five-Man Band
  • 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 foils 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).
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: 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 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 Sharon and Rayanne become friends as well).
  • Full-Name Basis: Jordan Catalano is usually called "Jordan Catalano." Sometimes he's called "Catalano." He's almost never called "Jordan."
  • Gag Boobs - 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.
  • Genki Girl
    • 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: 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.
  • The Ghost:
    • 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 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.
  • Girl Next Door: Angela, as far as Brian is concerned. Literal as well as figurative example. A Subverted Trope, in that Angela winds up with Jordan.
  • Good Bad Girl: Rayanne Graff. Or at least the image she tries to project.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: No one on the show is outright evil; no one on the show is without flaws. People just struggle to get by, and, as often as not, wind up hurting one another. High school, as seen by Anton Chekhov. See also, All of the Other Reindeer, above, although that's specifically about bullying, which is only one subset of the issues tackled in the series.
  • Halloween Episode: Complete with the ghosts of long-dead teenagers.
  • Happily Married: Angela's parents, Patty and Graham. Definitely married, but how happily can vary from episode to episode and scene to scene.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Rayanne Graff and her mother, Amber Vallon.
  • High School: Much of the show is set at the fictional Liberty High.
  • High School Dance: The World Happiness Dance in Life of Brian.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Averted, at least to the extent that such events on the show tend to transpire in a realistic manner rather than follow traditional sitcom logic.
    • An exception: the penultimate episode, "Weekend," which is a low-key farce. The change was deliberate.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Brian Krakow.
  • Hot-Blooded: Angela. Rayanne. Sometimes Sharon.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Almost everyone caught themselves in this at least once in a while. Usually played in a realistic and self-aware manner.
  • I Have Many Names: Substitute teacher "Vic Racine." Being on the run from the law will do that.
  • Important Haircut - 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 that may have been just a pretext, as Graham had already been thinking about having an affair with a woman he knew from work.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Delia Fisher admits to Rickie that she has a huge crush on him despite knowing he's gay in their final scene.
  • Informed Judaism: Brian Krakow and Hallie Lowenthal.
  • Innocent Prodigy: Angela's younger sister Danielle. Bonus points for being one of the few characters who really appreciates Brian as the Lovable Nerd he is.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • How Rayanne regards Brian. At first.
    • Possibly how just about everyone in school regards Brian. Including at least one of the teachers.
  • Ironic Echo
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Several examples, none of them ever actually stated out loud. The last and most heartbreaking is when Brian decides to try Playing Cyrano 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.
  • Jerk Jock: None of the major characters (Kyle is a classic jock but not a jerk), but several of the bullies.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jordan Catalano.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Well, High School students anyway.
  • Kissing Warm Up: Danielle catches Angela kissing the mirror.
  • Kuudere: In a weird way ... Brian. He tends to go quiet or get snarky, but he really does care about people.
  • Last Name Basis: Almost all the high school students.
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Sharon is an early subversion of The Libby 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.
  • Lovable Nerd: Brian.
  • Love Dodecahedron:
    • 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 Jordan Catalano — who's interested in Rickie's friend Angela. Later Rickie develops a crush on an Ambiguously Gay classmate named Corey — who's at least ostensibly interested in Rickie's other friend Rayanne.
  • Love Hurts: A central theme of the show. Even for those few whose love is reciprocated. Even for those in happy marriages — or outwardly happy marriages.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Twice: first a love letter from Angela "to" Jordon Catalano (but never intended for his eyes); later one from Jordan Catalano (or rather from "Jordan") to Angela. In the first instance, a mortified Angela tries to backpedal and convince Jordan it was simply a Mistaken Message to her ex-boyfriend. Whom she's trying to keep a secret. Because he died. In the second instance, the missive in question also qualifies as an Anguished Declaration of Love. From Brian.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Even if you're a Teen Genius, 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.
  • Love Martyr: 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.
  • Magic Realism: Most notably in the episode Halloween and the Do They Know It's Christmas Time? episode So-Called Angels.
  • Male Gaze: For the most part, averted. (See Female Gaze, 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard: No evil examples, but there's a lot of Truth in Television-level manipulation and counter-manipulation, much of it below the level of consciousness. It's a passive-aggressive world.
  • Meaningful Echo: 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 A Day in the Limelight episode Life Of Brian.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • 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 Racine."
    • Liberty High.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Possibly Rickie's mother.
    • As mentioned above at Disappeared Dad, Patty is adopted and has not met her biological parents.
  • Mistaken Message: Angela tries to cover up for a humiliating Love Letter Lunacy incident by pretending it's just a case of this.
  • Mood-Swinger: Angela and Rayanne.
  • Mood Whiplash / Mood Dissonance
  • Narrator: Usually Angela. Brian in the episode Life of Brian. Danielle in Weekend.
  • New Transfer Student: Delia Fisher.
  • Nice Jewish Boy: Brian.
  • No Periods, Period: In one episode, Patty thinks she may be pregnant.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In the case of 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. As is often the case, a lot of it is cyclical.
  • Oblivious to Love
  • Odd Friendship: 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.
  • Official Couple: Angela and Jordan.
  • One Scene, Two Monologues
  • Only Child Syndrome: 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).
  • Only One Name: Tino, who is also The Ghost.
  • Parents as People: Patty and Graham are defining examples of this trope.
  • Playing Cyrano: Brian, for Jordan.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: A few. Most notably Rickie and Rayanne. Danielle at times.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Everyone's favorite mode. Even Brian, although, dork that he is, he often gets confused at the sarcasm of others.
  • School Play: Our Town; drawn out over more than one episode. The actual performance was never seen, due to the show's cancellation.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Everyone at one time or another.
  • A Simple Plan: Subverted. (See Hilarity Ensues, above.)
  • Slice of Life
  • The Smart Guy: 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.
  • Stalker with a Crush: How Angela views Brian in her less patient moments. That is, when she's not being utterly oblivious.
    • Subverted in the final episode, when Brian accidentally confesses to Angela that he's Playing Cyrano behind "Jordan's" beautiful love letter to her.
  • Stepford Smiler: As mentioned in the DVD Commentary, 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, although it's hardly her default setting.
  • Story Arcs: A few for Angela and her friends, a few for her parents, with some crisscrossing.
  • Straight Gay:
    • One of the teachers at Liberty High, Richard Katimski.
    • Rickie Vasquez, although he has more than a few flourishes of Camp Gay.
  • Supreme Chef: Graham, Angela's father. Starts out as a quirky-sad backstory detail but evolves into a major Story Arc.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial (combined with You Just Told Me): In the heat of an argument with Angela, Brian indirectly and very much inadvertently confesses to his role Playing Cyrano in a Love Letter Lunacy. As is typical of the series, it's at least as much a Tear Jerker moment as a comic one.
  • Teen Drama: Both a Deconstruction and a classic in the genre.
  • Teen Genius: Brian is an unusually plausible example: not brilliant to an outrageous degree or in a cliched way, but he's definitely very book-smart — 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."
  • Timeshifted Actor: Kaley 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.)
  • Too Dumb to Live: Nicky Driscoll. Less "dumb" per se than "reckless" and "self-destructive."
  • Tragic Dream:
    • Angela's father Graham seems to have one about becoming a chef. May not be so tragic after all.
    • The show presents much of life this way, and growing up as learning to recognize this.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Jordan Catalano.
  • Transparent Closet: 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.
  • TV Genius: Averted. Brian is a more true-to-life version of this trope.
  • TV Teen
  • Two Lines, No Waiting
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: For example, in the episode Strangers in the House.
  • The Unfavorite
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Thanks to the ungodly amount of flannel worn.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Brian.
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • The narrator (in most episodes, Angela) is seldom willfully deceptive — just selectively oblivious.
    • Sometimes played for nearly simultaneous 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 Brian being bullied by his classmates.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Plenty. But the central UST is between Angela and Jordan Catalano.
    • According to Word of God, there's also plenty of Unresolved Sexual Tension between 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 Word of God / What Could Have Been, below.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist:
  • Verbal Tic: Not unusual expressions, but rather exaggerations, by the show's creators, of common 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 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.
  • Very Special Episode: So-Called Angels, guest-starring Juliana Hatfield as the magic homeless angel.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: How some (including Brian and later possibly Angela) see "Vic Racine".
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
  • Wham Line: 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 "How did you die?"
  • Wild Teen Party: Several. But not as wild as you might expect from a Teen Drama.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Or, in Angela's case, you gotta have "crimson glow" hair. See also Color-Coded for Your Convenience and Dyeing for Your Art, above.
  • You Just Told Me: Brian traps himself in one of these during a quarrel with Angela. See Suspiciously Specific Denial, above.
  • You Suck: A not-always-comic example.
  • Zip Me Up: In the last episode, Delia has Rickie zip up her jacket...just moments before she opens his closet door.

My Mad Fat DiaryTeen DramaThe O.C.
My Little Pony Equestria GirlsCreator/Shout! FactoryMystery Science Theater 3000
My Family And MeSeries of the 1990sMystery Science Theater 3000
MoeshaCreator/Teen NickNed's Declassified School Survival Guide
Muppets TonightCreator/ABCMy Three Sons
My Own Worst EnemyAmerican SeriesMysterious Ways

alternative title(s): My So Called Life
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