My So-Called Adulthood

Angela Chase

I was too young to discover Angela Chase the first time round.  My So-Called Life premiered when I was in primary school.  During my teenage years, it was a show that I often saw mentioned online [thanks, LiveJournal], and I knew I’d love it, but somehow I never actually got around to watching the series until about a month and a half ago, when I was in full procrastination mode.

Watching My So-Called Life for the first time as an adult is completely different to what it would have been ten or so years ago.  Teenage Britt would have worshipped Angela Chase, and, more to the point, would have completely felt Angela’s admiration for Rayanne Graff.  She would have printed out pictures of Jordan Catalano to stick in her locker, and started dressing in floral dresses and flannel shirts [a phase I didn’t hit until the year after I left school – and one that I still haven’t quite recovered from].  Teenage Britt would have thought that Angela’s parents were lame, and although she may have felt sorry for Brian Krakow, she still would have considered him a loser.

Adult Britt, however, saw the show a little differently.  I still saw myself in Angela Chase – and how could I not, considering that she dyes her hair red in the first episode?!  The series, which unfortunately only ran for one season, brought back all of those horrible feelings from high school.  Losing friends, being the victim of rumours, and desperately trying to fit in; I remember it all too well.  And My So-Called Life really does capture that time perfectly.  Anybody who suffered through high school would easily find something to relate to.

But watching the show as an adult gave me a big advantage that I wouldn’t have had if I’d watched the series ten years ago: I knew that it was going to end.  And I’m not referring to the show, but the hell of being a teenager.  When you’re in high school you have an incredibly skewed view of the world.  The things that matter to you then aren’t necessarily the things that are going to matter to you in the long term.  This doesn’t make them any less important, or make your perception of everything any less valid than that of an adult.  It’s just different.  [Coincidentally, this happens to be something that I’m attempting to explore in the feature film script I’ve been slaving away on, so this little television-watching marathon I had can absolutely count as research].  As I watched each episode of My So-Called Life, I could understand exactly what was going through Angela’s head at any given moment.  But, while teenage me probably would have agreed with her 98% of the time, adult me could see what I’d now consider to be flaws in her thinking.

Maybe it seems silly that watching a show aimed at teenagers made me feel “grown up”, but it is nice to be reminded that I am no longer the angsty fifteen-year old girl that I once was.  It’s not always easy to see change within yourself, but watching My So-Called Life offered me an opportunity to reflect, and realise that I’m writing for teenagers as an adult now, not as someone who is still in the same head space as they were in high school.

Image via Thought Catalog.

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