My So-Called Life is probably one of the most talked about one-season shows and here at This Was TV we wanted to try and add something different to this conversation. Pop culture is constantly reusing and rebooting and the ’90s is on trend right now. With this is mind, Astha and Kriti are going to have a bi-monthly look at MSCL and, as both went to high school in the ’90s, we will be using this nostalgia test to see how the show stands up now. Kriti watched MSCL around the time it first aired and has strong positive feelings towards Angela Chase and this is Astha’s first watch; this is another aspect we want to incorporate into our discussion. We will also be looking at how MSCL fits into the high school show pantheon and watching the show as adults vs. teens.
My So-Called Life – Season 1, Episode 16: “Resolutions”
Original airdate: Jan. 5, 1995
Kriti: The episode commences on New Year’s Eve, with the transition from 1994 to 1995. Angela narrates each character’s resolution in her voiceover fashion. Angela’s resolutions provide a touch of humor, even though this episode focuses less on her character development.
Her first resolution is to be less introspective, but, in typical Angela fashion, she ends up overthinking it, worrying that if she stops thinking too much, she might become shallow.
Her second resolution is to cease doing Jordan’s homework, a pledge she doesn’t manage to keep as we later see her in his car, still working on it (good old Red).
Jordan is the one who becomes aware that he’s been using Angela to get his homework done, prompting him to ask her to stop.
Interestingly, Jordan has displayed more thoughtfulness in the past two episodes, albeit in his typical, somewhat vacant manner. The shot of him in the resolution sequence, just realizing that it’s New Year’s Eve, is brilliantly humorous.
Another comedic moment involving Jordan occurs when he misreads Brian’s name as “Brain.” This plays on Jordan’s reading ability but fits the awkwardness of the scene.
I initially expected Jordan to confront Angela about the tutoring sign-up, but he surprises me by fully embracing the idea.
It’s actually Brian and Angela who resist the tutoring sessions, possibly due to the feelings that Brian is acutely aware of and Angela has yet to acknowledge.
I also enjoyed the tutoring scenes, as they provided a classic cool guy/nerd exchange of information, showcasing Jordan’s genuine interest in learning (even the most basic concepts) and Brian’s desire to acquire the skills to impress a girl with his newfound knowledge.
Angela’s interruption of their session added a comedic touch, and these lighthearted moments provided a welcome contrast to the seriousness of the Rickie storyline.
Jordan’s casual request for Angela to sleep with him is handled in a way that doesn’t come across as seedy, partly thanks to Angela’s reaction of hysterical laughter.
The visual detail of Brian sharpening his pencil during this exchange adds a layer of humor to the scene.
I share your concern regarding how Angela deals with the Rickie elements of the story in this episode, particularly after the events of the previous episode.
It does feel somewhat abrupt, as if they are pushing Rickie into a desperate situation to serve the story’s conclusion.
Angela’s reaction seems somewhat shallow, given her close friendship with Rickie. While I understand the need to balance different types of storylines within an episode, this aspect does feel a bit off, as you mentioned.
Happy New Year to you too! If you have more thoughts or questions, feel free to share them.
Astha: Happy New Year to you too!
I absolutely agree; this episode strikes a great balance between the shallow and more profound resolutions, which adds a layer of humor and complexity to the characters.
Danielle’s resolution to badger her mother until she can use makeup and Sharon’s resolution to stop having sex while developing a Brad Pitt fetish both inject a lot of fun into the episode.
It’s interesting to consider the possibility that the writers received direction to make Jordan Catalano a more likable character.
His personality change is indeed quite noticeable, shifting from a brooding, somewhat sinister character to a goofier, more endearing one who seems to be helping Krakow in a mentor-like role.
His comment about having sex with Angela might have been intended as a joke, knowing it would provoke a strong and ridiculous reaction from her. It certainly adds to the comedic elements.
The character inconsistencies are one of the aspects that stand out in this episode. Angela’s shift from being deeply concerned about Rickie to a somewhat dismissive attitude is somewhat jarring.
Rayanne’s resolution to stop drinking is mentioned but not explored further, so it remains to be seen how her New Year’s resolution plays out in future episodes.
I believe the heart of the story centers on Rickie’s experience of homelessness and the concern of his English teacher, Mr. Meredith Grey’s Father (guest star Jeff Perry), to assist Rickie in his predicament.
Mr. Katimski/Mr. Grey genuinely cares for Rickie and is deeply troubled by his nightly sleeping arrangements.
Initially, I found his involvement a bit overwhelming, as he seemed too intrusive in Rickie’s affairs.
However, as he continued trying to connect Rickie with different people, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to a situation in ‘The Wire’ where Carver has a chance to rescue Randy but misses it.
I found myself yelling at my TV screen, ‘Just let Rickie stay in your house, you fool!’ It appears so straightforward, except it’s not. Regardless of whether Meredith’s Dad is gay or not, taking a minor who isn’t his own into his home could potentially lead to a host of legal complications.
It’s disheartening to realize that something as basic as offering shelter to a needy child has to be tangled in such complexities.
Nonetheless, we must remember that this is just a TV show, right? So, why not invite Rickie into your home, Mr. Grey, and become his new father? Transform this into something akin to ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ or a similar scenario.
What are your thoughts on Rickie’s unfortunate circumstances? Do you feel it’s becoming overwhelming? Must he contend with being both homeless and abused while also navigating questions about his sexuality? He’s arguably one of the most tragic teenage characters in television history.
Kriti: I’m kicking off 2013 by discussing ‘My So-Called Life,’ so everything’s going well.
‘My So-Called Life,’ in the episode titled ‘Resolutions,’ delves into the sadness and seriousness of the situation. You’re absolutely right; Rickie is grappling with a multitude of issues.
Wilson Cruz once again delivers an outstanding performance as the character who tries not to burden others but reaches a point where he has to seek help.
In classic TV fashion, he accidentally overhears part of Patty and Graham’s conversation, where they express that he can’t stay with them forever.
Regrettably, he misses the heartfelt compliments they make about him.
When he discovers that his uncle and aunt have moved without leaving a forwarding address, it’s particularly heart-wrenching, especially because we know how remarkable he is.
I understand what you’re getting at regarding the parallels between Mr. Katimski and ‘The Wire’s’ Carver, and it’s truly frustrating to see so much bureaucratic red tape.
While it’s undoubtedly in place to protect children, it can also hinder the situation. It’s an intriguing twist to Mr. Katimski’s character to reveal his homosexuality, as it introduces an additional layer of conflict in terms of how much he can assist.
Considering it’s 1995, it feels like a progressive storyline (in line with the show’s overall theme), and even in 2013, one can imagine that some narrow-minded individuals might still have issues with gay teachers.
At this point, I almost wish Rickie could go live with Brian, as his less-than-involved parents probably wouldn’t object much.”
Now, onto the challenging part of this episode, which is the storyline involving Graham and the restaurant. I’m not a fan of the hints about Graham’s wandering eye, even if they adjusted the story at the beginning of the season.
‘Friday Night Lights’ demonstrated that you can have a central married couple without introducing affair drama, and still, generate compelling stories from their relationship. Regrettably, this show seems to be adhering to the more conventional approach of using affairs or hints of affairs to create engaging TV.
I’m not interested in witnessing Graham and Hallie engaging in discussions in a restaurant setting (with that unattractive centerpiece), because Patty is already a captivating character, and their marriage is inherently intriguing.
I also found it strange that Patty initially thought Graham was going to confess to an affair and then nonchalantly accepted the idea of opening a restaurant with the woman she suspected him of being involved with.
However, I did appreciate Graham’s motives for wanting to embark on this venture, particularly his perpetual sense of missing out on things.
I’m hopeful that this development will lead to positive character growth without negatively impacting their marriage.
One element of the episode that I thoroughly enjoyed was all the scenes offering relationship advice from Rayanne to Sharon, but I’ll delve into that a bit later. What are your thoughts on this Graham and Patty storyline?
Astha: That’s a brilliant idea. Rickie moving in with the Krakows is definitely a great plan. Perhaps Jordan should consider joining them as well.
In this scenario, they could gradually phase out the concept of Brian’s parents until it’s just the three boys living together, throwing epic parties, and casually asking people for their contact details like it’s no big deal.
Regarding ‘My So-Called Life,’ in the episode ‘Resolutions,’ I have to say, the Graham and Patty restaurant dilemma is a bit exasperating.
I would be more comfortable with Patty suspecting an affair if there weren’t hints of a potential romantic connection brewing beneath the surface of Graham’s interactions with Hallie.
Patty does come across as someone who might be prone to constant suspicions of infidelity, considering she’s Angela’s mother. After all, Angela seems to have inherited her introspective neuroses from somewhere.
However, the fact that Hallie is now single, and she and Graham are meeting alone in an old abandoned restaurant (one of the most romantic settings on Earth), it just feels like a bit too much.
It could have been interesting to explore this situation from the perspective of a strong, independent woman who still grapples with concerns about her partner’s fidelity.
They could have paired this with Angela’s worries about Jordan’s loyalty, providing a balanced view, and given us a glimpse into Kyle’s thoughts when he suspects Sharon might not reciprocate his feelings with the same intensity.
But then again, it seems like I’m crafting an entirely new show.
However, the dynamic where Hallie appears to have some interest in Graham and Graham not being completely uninterested in Hallie comes across as rather cliché.
It’s almost predictable that this woman would pursue Graham, and Graham would reciprocate, despite the fact that he and his wife are quite intimate, and initially, he seemed somewhat irritated by Hallie.
After all, he’s a man, and it’s almost as if he’s expected to be unable to control his desires under any circumstances.
It’s as though the Iowa Supreme Court has officially recognized this as an undeniable fact.
I share your sentiments regarding Graham’s motivations for wanting to open the restaurant. He’s approaching middle age, and he’s finally on the verge of realizing his long-held dream.
He’s not about to let this opportunity slip through his fingers. I genuinely hope he achieves everything he aspires to in this endeavor, with the sole exception of pursuing any extramarital affairs.
It seems I’ve penned quite a bit already. What are your thoughts on Sharon and her daydreams involving Brad Pitt?
Kriti: I find the Sharon storyline quite compelling, as it serves to inject some much-needed levity into what could have been a rather gloomy episode.
Yes, she’s using Kyle, which isn’t great, but let’s be honest, Kyle wasn’t exactly the ideal boyfriend the first time around (am
I a terrible person for not feeling too sympathetic toward Kyle?). What I appreciate is that Sharon, who initially came across as fairly uptight in the pilot, is now exploring her desires, fueled by her fantasies about Brad Pitt.
Naturally, it’s Rayanne with whom she ends up discussing this dilemma, and, of course, Rayanne is all in favor of Sharon having some no-strings-attached fun, even if Kyle doesn’t quite view it the same way.
Their friendship has been evolving nicely, and they don’t even pretend to dislike each other anymore.
Additionally, the interaction between Brian and Sharon in the corridor is hilarious, as, once again, someone turns to Brian as a sounding board while he vents about something else.
The moment with the teddy bear adds an extra layer of humor to the scene, especially when he brings out the bear in front of Jordan later on.
By the way, I absolutely adore the alternate version of the show you’re describing.
Additionally, thanks to this Vulture piece, I discovered that the guidance counselor is portrayed by ‘My So-Called Life’ creator, Winnie Holzman.
Astha: That’s fantastic. I had no clue Winnie Holzman played the guidance counselor. Do you remember what Rickie called her? He used some amusing nickname, but I didn’t jot it down.
I completely agree with your perspective on Kyle. He didn’t treat Sharon well, and a part of me suspects he might also be using her for more than just her company, despite the presence of the ‘I Love You’ bear.
He seems to be aware that Brad Pitt is a sensitive topic for her.
Kyle’s head isn’t just for wearing hats, after all.
Once again, the scenes with Rayanne and Sharon are some of the most enjoyable moments in the show.
They share more in common with each other than they do with Angela. Rayanne helps bring Sharon out of her shell, and if they continue to be friends, Sharon might have a positive influence on Rayanne, helping her maintain her sobriety in the new year.
I can’t help but feel sympathy for poor Brian Krakow. At least he now has a girl’s phone number. Knowledge is power, right?
Oh, Rickie’s reference to the guidance counselor, he said, ‘Miss Crazy or whatever her name is.’ Oh, Rickie.
Your insights about Kyle understanding the Brad Pitt angle are intriguing, and it makes sense, especially around the time when Pitt was transitioning away from his classic good looks and adopting a more grungy appearance.
I wonder how Sharon would react to his Chanel ad!