Love or Hype: My So-Called Life

It’s 1994 and all my teen mags bleed My So-Called Life – from giving tips n how to mimic Rayanne Graff’s (A.J. Langer) iconic bohemian grunge chic style to swooning over Jordan Catalano’s (Jared Leto) puppy dog eyes, and lusting over Angela Chase’s (Claire Danes) crimson locks and trendy flannels. It seemed like everyone was talking about this cult show that only lasted for one season, and yet since I was living in Italy at the time, this show never made it across the pond. So when I saw that Hulu finally had the show, I decided to dive in and see if I had missed something truly amazing. Spoiler alert: I did.

The show introduces us to a very young Claire Danes as Angela Chase. Watching the show, I was reminded as to how much I was taken by Danes’ charm and how much she emulated the awkward teen years so well. The winning point of this show is that it shows real teen dynamics and the characters spoke like real teens, which means that they don’t always have amazing come backs and rather mumble or take awhile to find the right words, such as like in real life. In other words, this show doesn’t feel scripted as far as the dialogue goes.

For the two weeks that I spent to watch this show, I really emerged myself in the late 90’s and the nostalgia for that time really hit me like a two ton truck. It was fun to be a part of Angela’s life. Although the real scene stealer was Rayanne (and rightfully so), I couldn’t help but really loved Ricky Vasquez (Wilson Cruz). He was an openly gay character who had pearls of wisdom when it came to love, although he never found love in the course of the show. Although everyone was gaga for Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto), I couldn’t see why since for a good portion of the show he barely speaks and when he does he doesn’t say anything too charming. But towards the end of the show Jordan got more airtime and I actually liked him more after he and Angela broke up than prior.

The real understated heart of the show was Angela’s mom Patty (Bess Armstrong) who truly loved her family and husband and yet no one gave her the time of day, same as Angela’s young sister Danielle (Lisa Wilhoit) who actually wasn’t as annoying as everyone acted like she was. The one character I wasn’t crazy for was Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersail). He was the typical awkward, nerdy fake nice guy who most likely grew up to be an incel. He was the one who came up with the rumor that Angela and Jordan had slept together, only because he was jealous that his love for Angela was unrequited.

To say that I loved this show is an understatement. The show really captures real life teens with real life problems. Often times, teen shows show teens that are very rich and very beautiful (think The OC, Gossip Girl and Beverly Hills 90210), while My So-Called Life depicted the typical teen, meaning that a lot of times you saw Angela wearing clothes from previous episodes in different ways, much like a real teen would do, or styling your hair the way a real teen would, not having amazing blowouts or impeccable makeup. This show was very authentic and hit a nerve. It’s too bad that we never got a chance to see Angela and her friends evolve and grow, instead they remain trapped in amber in that idyllic 90’s moment that everyone will always cherish.


Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood: A Chilling Prophecy


The TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale has been an incredible success (so much so that they’ve already confirmed a Season Three), but before actually watching the series, I decided I wanted to read the novel. I’ve always been a huge fan of George Orwell’s 1984, a futuristic novel that should be seen as a cautionary tale of how the government can control every aspect of our lives, even history (as the protagonist Winston works in doing exactly that, rewriting history). Like Orwell, Atwood hopes that her novel can also be seen as a cautionary tale of how easy it is for women to lose their rights and actually be reduced to silenced slaves if we do nothing about keeping the rights we already have and obtaining new ones that we’re still fighting for today.

The book opens with Offred telling us about her life as a Handmaid. The new government in the Republic of Gilead has outlawed reading for women, they can no longer have bank accounts or jobs. In this new austre republic, women are divided into groups of Wives (who wear blue, much in resemblance to Mary from the Bible and are usually married to commanders), Handmaids (they are used as wombs for the barren wives and made to wear red), Marthas (dressed in green and symbolize those who do chores much like servants), Aunts (they dress in brown and are those who instruct future handmaids on their “occupation”), Jezebels (they’re allowed access to alcohol, drugs, makeup, and garish clothing cause they’re essentially prostitutes), Econowives (wives of those who are lower-rank and dress in stripes), and Daughters (dressed in white). Then there’s the non-women, these group of women are those that have defied authority or are too old to reproduce, hence are sent to the colonies to clean up toxic waste till they die.

In this novel, Atwood seems to want to shake women and tell them WAKE UP! THIS COULD BE YOUR FUTURE! And eerily enough, with more and more politicians and conservative women fighting to strip away rights from other women, Gilead could pretty much become a reality. Whenever one perpetuates rape culture or slut-shames, we’re allowing a future like that to manifest.

Serena Joy, in the novel, is the Commander’s wife in which Offred if the Handmaid to. In her former life, Serena Joy was a conservative religious TV personality. The irony is, that Serena Joy got exactly what she preached for, but at the same time, her rise to fame wouldn’t have occurred if she hadn’t been living in a democratic republic. But, once things began to spin out of control, it was too late for Serena to regret the change she herself had perpetrated.

One of the most chilling quotes from the novel is spoken by Aunt Lydia who tells her handmaids in training, “ This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will.” And that’s where the horror lies. The new society hopes that future girls won’t question their fate, because they won’t have a recollection of a time before, nor would they have access to books to know that such a time ever existed.

With this novel, Atwood wants women to wake up and see that as the Commander tells Offred, “Better never means better for everyone…It always means worse for some.” People like Paul Ryan are hoping that you tire of fighting so that they can have a better society that betters their lives but would ultimately make yours worse.

In the novel, we never know what became of Offred. But if there’s one thing we can take away from Atwood’s novel is this: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” (Don’t let the bastards grind you down). Fight on and fight hard.

By: Azzurra Nox