Dear Angela includes fourteen critical essays that examine the short-lived but landmark television series My So-Called Life (1994-1995). Though certainly not the first young woman to be the center of a television series, Angela Chase and the show about her life were doing something new on television and influenced many of the shows about young people that followed Michele Byers and David Lavery bring together enthusiastic and engaging voices that bear on a series that continues to be hailed as a breakthrough moment in television, even though more than a decade has passed since its cancellation. Tackling a broad range of topics-from identity politics to music, infidelity, and death-each essay builds upon a belief that My So-Called Life is a particulary rich text worth studying for the clues it offers about a particular moment in cultural and television history. Dear Angela offers a sophisticated analysis of the show's legacy and cultural relevance that will appeal to media studies scholars and fans alike.
We have waited too many years for a first-rate book on My So-Called Life. Dear Angela has made the wait worthwhile. Editors Michele Byers and David Lavery have gathered an excellent set of essayists who write on topics ranging from Barbara Bell’s brilliant work on language to Kelli Maloy’s piece on music to Jes Battis’s “My So-Called Queer.” And of course Byers’ and Lavery’s own essays are lucid and moving. This book fills an important place in television scholarship; furthermore, fans of the show are sure to enjoy the thoughtful attention these writers pay to a worthy work of television.
Sherrie A. Inness
Dear Angela is a lively and vivid work that is sure to fascinate any reader interested in thinking about My So-Called Life and its long-lasting cultural impact, which continues today. Anyone curious about teens and television will find this book to be absorbing.
Introduction Michele Byers 1
Gender/Sexuality/Desire: Subversion of Difference and Construction of Loss in the Adolescent Drama of My So-Called Life Michele Byers 13
Saving Our So-Called Lives: Girl Fandom, Adolescent Subjectivity, and My So-Called Life Susan Murray 35
Timing Is Everything: The Success of Dawson's Creek and the Failure of My So-Called Life Andrew Coomes 51
Their So-Called Scene: Uses of Popular Music in My So-Called Life Kelli Maloy 57
Characters and Themes
My So-Called Queer: Rickie Vasquez and the Performance of Teen Exile Jes Battis 71
Jordan Catalano/Brian Krakow: Masculinity, the "Alternative" 90s, and My So-Called Life Nicholas Birns 91
Passing Notes and Passing Crushes: Writing Desire and Sexuality in My So-Called Life Jolie Braun 107
"Whatever Happens Happens": Infidelity in My So-Called Life Deidre Dowling Price 121
My So-Called Magical Life: Magical Realism Joins the Chase(s) Chris Brooks 131
Holden Caulfield in Doc Martens: The Catcher in the Rye and My So-Called Life Barbara Bell 143
One of Those Fights Where It Feels Like theFight's Having You: The "Patty Reading" of My So-Called Life Bill Kte'pi 157
"It Only Got Teenage Girls": Narrative Strategies and the Teenage Perspective of My So-Called Life Caryn Murphy 165
My So-Called Life in the Balance: Metaphors of Mortality and Uncertainty in a Short-Lived Television Series David Scott Diffrient 181
Afterword. My So-Called Life Meets The X-Files: Winnie Holzman's Influence on Joss Whedon David Lavery 211
Character List 218
Episode Guide 219
Selected Bibliography 220