My So-Called Life
Season 1, Episode 17: “Betrayal”
Original airdate: Jan. 12, 1995
Kriti: Angela Chase has won another award. Yay!
Now, onto the episode that took a turn. I wish it hadn’t, yet it explains why this isn’t just another teen show.
It helps clarify why we’re still discussing it 19 years after it originally aired (yes, I cringed typing that number, feeling old).
Rayanne slept with Jordan, her best friend’s ex and the guy Angela has been obsessed with for their entire friendship.
It’s not as simple as that, though, and it goes far beyond a mere “oops, I got drunk and made a mistake” scenario.
At the beginning of the episode, Angela declares in voiceover while dancing alone in her room (a staple of the teen genre) and to Rickie and Rayanne that she’s finally over Jordan.
It seems like an honest statement, and I believe Angela truly thinks she’s moved on at this point.
However, love and crushes don’t vanish completely, and Jordan should still be off-limits to friends.
I don’t think Rayanne truly buys Angela’s excuse, and being drunk doesn’t justify her actions.
The real reason Rayanne did it is what makes this episode so heartbreaking and prevents it from becoming a cliché story.
It’s been evident for a while that things are strained between Rayanne and Angela.
After the O.D. incident, their power dynamic shifted, and Rayanne was no longer the super-cool, adventurous friend.
Throughout the season, characters like Rayanne’s mother have informed us that Rayanne wants to be like Angela.
Rayanne sleeping with Jordan was her way of achieving this. It might sound a bit like “Single White Female,” but it’s not that creepy, I promise.
Comparing ourselves to others is something we do throughout our lives, but it’s at an intense level during our teenage years.
Angela has everything Rayanne lacks: a stable home (though I’m glad Amber isn’t a complete single mom cliche), she’s seen as “innocent,” and her life isn’t as chaotic.
We’ve seen Rayanne gazing longingly at the Chase family’s setup, and the beginning of the episode is filled with references to Angela’s innocence and Rayanne’s study of Angela’s mannerisms (including her crying face!).
I haven’t even discussed Jordan yet, and I feel like I still have an essay’s worth of comments to make about Rayanne, so I’ll add a few more thoughts for now.
Rayanne is self-destructive, so it’s not really surprising that she does this.
Her speech to Angela, where she tells Angela that she’s lost nothing (just a “lousy, selfish friend and a guy she never had”), while Rayanne has lost everything, is the moment that breaks my heart.
As we’ve mentioned before, Rayanne and Angela won’t be BFFs forever, and this is Rayanne’s way of hastening that end.
The scene from Our Town might be a bit on the nose, but it works in this context (and makes me shed more tears, damn that quivering chin). Rayanne is truly excellent in this scene.
What are your thoughts? Is Our Town performed at every high school?
Astha: I hope you managed to get enough sleep after the Golden Globes.
I can’t recall if we performed Our Town during my time in high school. I don’t think we did, so maybe I just narrowly missed it.
Um, I must admit that I had a hard time feeling sympathy for Rayanne in this episode.
Perhaps it’s because we’ve seen her “start over” so many times this year—after the overdose on New Year’s Eve… is that all?
It feels like there should be more instances. Anyway, both Rayanne and Jordan knew what they were doing, whether drunk or not, and they were intentionally sabotaging their relationships with Angela because they couldn’t live up to the images Angela had created of them.
That being said, I completely understand your point about why Rayanne acted as she did. On some level, she does want to be like Angela.
On another level, she wants to disrupt her relationship with Angela before they naturally drift apart and Angela forms connections with other people (such as Rickie).
Yet, on another level, this was a way for Rayanne to regain the upper hand in her relationship with Angela by doing something Angela’s innocence wouldn’t allow.
As for Jordan, I feel that this incident only adds more evidence to Angela’s good fortune for ending things with him when she did.
What a slimy jerk, no matter how well he can sing.
Now, regarding the Rickie, Angela, and Cory triangle, I’m somewhat torn about this situation, too.
Rickie has had a crush on Cory for a while, and everyone knew about it. But Cory is straight and will never be interested in Rickie.
So, while watching the episode, I felt less inclined to blame Angela for her actions.
However, now I do think she was rather insensitive to throw herself at Cory so passionately in front of Rickie.
Maybe I was just inclined to cut her some slack because she’s Angela, and I identify with her more than I do with the other characters.
Other noteworthy details I’d like to highlight before I forget: The not-so-subtle allusions to masturbation.
Angela was dancing to “Blister in the Sun,” and Krakow was shirtless and writhing around in his bed.
Also, the moment Krakow captures a shot of Sharon’s behind coincides with Sharon uttering the word “but.”
It’s interesting how much Krakow is involved in filming during this episode, especially considering his future as a film student on Felicity.
It’s like foreshadowing the actor’s career.
I apologize for going off on a tangent about Brian Krakow, which is something I tend to do. What are your thoughts on the Rickie/Angela situation?
And, in the spirit of true confessions, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you inadvertently stole someone’s crush?
Kriti: I haven’t engaged in Angela’s behavior of pursuing a crush that a friend was also interested in.
While I’ve certainly experienced having a crush on the same person as a friend, I never went as far as full-blown flirting and trying to win their affection. How about you?
It’s challenging to hold Angela entirely responsible for her Cory-related antics.
While it’s definitely hurtful in the context of Rickie’s feelings, her actions are motivated by her earlier sense of
Angela’s behavior is also an attempt to change her image, aligning with what she thinks Rayanne and Jordan perceive her as.
She reflects this through her choice of dark lipstick, Rayanne-like braids, and attempts at more assertive behavior.
Cory, on the other hand, appears rather clueless (perhaps he should form a club with Kyle), and honestly, both Rickie and Angela could do better than him.
Angela’s response to Rickie’s good advice, “You’ve got to lead your life,” leads her into the misguided flirtation with Cory, but Angela must make mistakes because even protagonists should have their moments of screwing up.
I have a couple of other points related to Rayanne—first, her confrontation with Sharon in the bathroom (drink!).
Rayanne’s distorted thinking leads her to believe that Sharon will be pleased with what happened because it would confirm Sharon’s original judgment of Rayanne.
However, this isn’t the case, and it’s not just because Angela got hurt but also because Rayanne and Sharon are friends, and this situation has strained their relationship.
Sharon appears close to tears when she leaves the bathroom, likely saddened by the loss of a confidant.
The Patty/Rayanne scene and Patty’s subsequent confession are excellent moments.
They also give Patty another reason to appreciate Rayanne despite Rayanne hurting her daughter.
I initially wondered why Patty seemed hesitant to discuss what transpired with Camille, thinking she was trying to be considerate and not reveal Rayanne’s secret.
However, it turns out that Patty simply didn’t want to bring up old history.
I’m somewhat intrigued by the idea of an MSCL prequel that showcases a less button-up version of Patty. Camille is fantastic with her accurate and quick assessment of Hallie.
Every time Hallie appears on the screen, I wish she weren’t there, and the fact that neither Graham nor Hallie mentions the absence of Brad is quite concerning.
The Brian shirtless scene is humorous, and I knew you’d instantly enjoy it.
It’s such an awkward moment, and it’s a shame that Angela’s laughter turns into a fit of anger so rapidly.
How do you feel about Brian filming the Rayanne/Jordan moment?
It clearly crosses a significant line, but considering how much of a voyeur Brian is, it’s not entirely surprising.
Additionally, we get to hear his dad shouting that Angela is there. We still haven’t seen them, and I believe this is an intentional decision.
Jordan has essentially undone all the progress he made in the past few episodes.
While I don’t feel an overwhelming amount of sympathy for him, it’s evident that he doesn’t typically form emotional connections with the girls he dates (or sleeps with).
So, his feelings for Angela are probably entirely new and perplexing to him. Sleeping with Rayanne may have been his way of trying to bridge that connection with Angela.
And I’m absolutely astonished by the fact that Rayanne lives in a real-life castle (thanks to Andy for sharing that fascinating tidbit).
Astha: A Patty/Camille MSCL prequel! Let’s add it to the fanfic vault. We can finally delve into all the betrayals, the basket case, the former roommate, and When Patty Met Graham.
I’m all for it. Considering The Carrie Diaries became a reality, I don’t think this concept is too far off. (Although the Gossip Girl prequel didn’t perform well, maybe the world just wasn’t ready for that kind of thing.)
I actually did something similar to what Rayanne did back in high school, or I should say, almost did. Well, to be more precise, it was more like an Angela/Rickie/Cory situation.
I discovered that a guy my friend had a crush on for a while was interested in me, so I started talking to him.
And, um, I convinced myself I was in the right because my friend had never even spoken to the guy and just admired him from a distance.
While things with this guy never progressed beyond talking and flirting, it was still a pretty lousy thing for me to do.
It seems like I’m always confessing about what a terrible friend I’ve been in these pieces. It’s surprisingly therapeutic.
You know, when I think about it, perhaps my lack of anger toward Angela for what she did to Rickie stems from a place of understanding.
Rayanne can have any guy she wants, and she doesn’t need to go after Jordan because she could’ve just moved on to the next guy at the bar and had fun.
Angela, on the other hand, has likely never experienced guys showing much interest in her, and she doesn’t have a queue of suitors waiting for her.
So I can’t blame her for wanting to explore this newfound attention, even if it means Rickie’s feelings get caught in the crossfire. Sorry, Rickie! Sending you kisses!
Brian probably should’ve stopped recording the hook-up, but in his defence, Sharon did tell him to capture the good stuff. He was just following orders! Brian Krakow can do no wrong!
As for Jordan Catalano, I’m with you. While I understand the idea that he may have slept with Rayanne to get closer to Angela, I can’t fully excuse his behavior. Self-control, man!
And you’re right; we’ve imagined future lives for all the MSCL characters except Jordan. Although his becoming a Taylor Swift casualty could count!
As for his future, maybe he will make it through his 20s with some wild adventures and then find some stability.
I’m not sure about the B&B in Vermont with Chad, but who knows, it might be the perfect ending for him!
Kriti: I had recently watched The Carrie Diaries before my last email, so the idea of prequels might have been on my mind.
I envision Jordan heading to L.A. or New York and ending up in that new Lindsay Lohan movie.
That thought might be influenced by Lohan mentioning him in that New York Times piece (I’m easily influenced).
It probably doesn’t end well for Mr. Catalano—except for the Taylor Swift song, of course.
As for the restaurant shenanigans, it’s funny you should mention them because my lack of words on the matter probably reveals how I feel.
Restaurant opening stories tend to be pretty terrible (I’m thinking of Desperate Housewives, but I’m sure there are more).
The only good one that comes to mind is the one featured in Curb Your Enthusiasm (and it includes one of my all-time favorite insults).
I love that Brian turns to Rickie for advice and confides in him, even though, in high school, nothing stays secret for long.
Astha: Shoot! I completely forgot about Graham and Hallie. It was my favorite part of the episode! Ha ha ha. No.
Camille was spot on about Hallie. She’s no good for Graham. She’s no good for Patty. She’s no good for us viewers.
I can’t recall any good restaurant opening stories. Does the Peach Pit After Dark count? Because everything that happened at the PPAD was pure genius.
Jordan is going to break Taylor Swift’s heart so hard. She kind of deserves it after giving Adele the stink-eye at the Golden Globes.
I also love that Brian turned to Rickie because he had no one else to talk to. When will those two admit they’re best friends?
Also, what happened with Rickie and Meredith Grey’s father, who’s starting to look more and more like Jeremy Renner, which I find distracting?
Is Rickie still living at his house? Is he back on the streets? We need to talk about Rickie!
Kriti: I think there’s a brief mention that Rickie is still living there, something about him putting in a good word for Rayanne, but it wasn’t explicitly referenced.
I can totally see the Jeremy Renner resemblance, too. Now, I’ll be imagining that Hawkeye is their teacher.
I have one more thing to add to this discussion, and it applies not only to this episode but to Claire Danes’ performance throughout the series.
It’s in relation to some remarks that Danes made in the new issue of Elle (an interview that reveals that she is still best friends with Devon Odessa, who plays Sharon—they were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings).
The interviewer brings up the Claire Danes cry meme, and Danes comments on this with some annoyance, saying:
I have to say, I find it very odd that it’s been sort of objectified. It’s just the way feelings register on my face. It’s not calculated; it’s not an aggressive gesture. It’s been isolated from the rest of my work, like a tacked-on thing. It’s not.
I believe that Danes may have misinterpreted this meme as something people mock her for, although I understand that she might not appreciate her raw emotion being turned into a meme.
Instead, I would argue that this meme has emerged because viewers aren’t accustomed to seeing an actress or actor go all out with such disregard for how they might appear.
I’ve never encountered anyone suggesting that it’s a calculated move, nor would I describe it as an aggressive gesture.
I’d say to Claire (because I’m pretty sure she’s reading this, right?): We frequently point it out here because of the impact it can have on the viewer—your chin quiver makes my chin quiver.
So, she should embrace the love and not view it as something negative.
In related news, something I contributed to the Claire Danes Cry Face Project was posted on Tumblr yesterday. We love you, Claire!
What do you think about Danes’s assessment of the nation’s obsession with her crying face? Are we wrong to focus on this aspect of her work?
Astha: I loved that Rickie and Rayanne actually made fun of Angela’s crying face in this episode. Who knew that meme has been around for so long?
If only the internet had been more prevalent in 1994. (And congratulations on your Tumblr post!)
I think Claire needs to understand that we say these things out of love, and if it makes her feel bad, she should go home and hug her Golden Globes and Emmys and her hot husband.
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