Using MSCL in the Classroom

Found a reference to "My So-Called Life" in a book, movie, tv show or somewhere else? Then post here!
Post Reply
Posts: 12
Joined: Nov 8th 2002, 5:21 pm
Location: South Dakota

Using MSCL in the Classroom

Post by Jewel » Nov 13th 2002, 7:37 pm

I teach English at a community college. In the spring, I will teach Advanced Composition. The book used for the course has readings based on pop culture (music, movies, literature, advertisements, etc.). The students then write critical, analytical, and usually persuasive essays on these readings.

This class meets once a week for 4 hours at a time. To break up the monotony, I thought I could actually play songs, movie clips, etc., and have them write in-class essays reacting to those. And wouldn't MSCL be so appropriate?!

However, I need to decide on an episode. I have yet to receive my DVDs, so my mind may change after I've seen them all again. But I figured this board would be the best place to receive input on which episode to use. I'd love your suggestions. My goal is this: I want to select an episode that creates the most reaction/emotion, makes the students think the most, and possibly even activates some debate.

While thinking of the above, this will be a night class, so there will probably be more nontraditional students that have never heard of MSCL (gasp!). You may want to factor that into your suggestions.

I can't wait to read your suggestions! Just tell me why I should choose a certain episode; yes, I'm an English teacher, so I expect you to explain yourself!

Three Rivers Resident
Posts: 59
Joined: Aug 16th 2001, 8:53 am

Post by lizardcub » Nov 14th 2002, 2:01 am

Well, this is QUITE a decision! I'm inclined to recommend Self Esteem, because I believe it's probably the most-loved episode, because I think the Abyssinia in geometry subplot could spark interesting discussions, and because I think everyone can pick up the plot without having seen earlier episodes.

Other choices might be:
--the Pilot (since it's the first one, they can see all the characters introduced, plus it's a great episode, and it raises a lot you might want to explore),
--Guns and Gossip or So-Called Angels (both raise issues I expect students would have reactions to...SCA, while amazing, might be more similar to what they've seen on other shows that have had homelessness "issue" episodes so I'd be more inclined toward GaG...actually, it's hard to think of a better episode for discussion, between the homophobic bullying, the morality of Brian's response, the difference between how the kids and the adults react to the guns, the metal detectors...)
--Pressure (who doesn't like to talk about sex?)

Speaking of Pressure AND of teaching MSCL (Jewel--I hope you don't mind if I hijack your thread a little!), a woman I know is going to teach a college class on girls and wanted to show MSCL. She was particularly interested in doing a comparison to Buffy after showing an episode of each, and especially wants to talk about the role of sex in each. I thought Pressure was clearly the obvious episode for her to show, but I'm wondering if any of you had other ideas with interesting justifications.

Also, she told me she wasn't convinced (despite being a huge MSCL fan) that MSCL wasn't another show on which girls aren't able to really enjoy sex, and if that wasn't part of a conservatism on the show's part. I told her I thought she should look at Sharon's subplot, but I'd really love to get a discussion started on this if y'all are game. Is she right? Is MSCL realistic in the way it portrays adolescent female reactions to sex? Did it send the right "message"?

User avatar
So-Called Addict
Posts: 989
Joined: Sep 24th 2002, 4:40 am

Post by SanDeE* » Nov 14th 2002, 2:48 am

lizardcub wrote:Is MSCL realistic in the way it portrays adolescent female reactions to sex? Did it send the right "message"?
Oh boy. I haven't seen the ep in quite a while, but basically, Sharon and her boyfriend have sex "like, constantly" while Angela debates whether or not she's ready/wants to with Jordan, and Rayanne does it a lot with several people (or has I guess). Okay.

I think this portrays girls and sex (in high school) very well. I graduated a couple of years ago, and I knew some girls that were like Rayanne (several partners), some girls that were like Sharon (one serious partner), and some girls like Angela. I guess I was an Angela in Sharon's situation (serious bf, but no sex - not sure, too young, whatever). And YES I think it sends the right message! (Although this next thing I say may be from a different ep...) When Angela realizes that Jordan was primarily interested in her just for the sex and she dumps him. Right on Angela! Girls need to know that they don't have to "give it up" just because their boyfriends want to. And also - sex is serious business! Take it seriously! That's the message that I got from this part of the series, and I was thirteen when I first saw it, about two years before I started high school.

Liberty High Student
Posts: 116
Joined: Jun 4th 2002, 7:45 pm
Location: new yorker in florida! help!

enjoyable sex for women and girls in mscl

Post by likelife » Nov 14th 2002, 4:51 pm

i think the point you bring up about mscl presenting women who may or may not be able (or allowed) to enjoy sex is an interesting one. i'd argue that the show gives a pretty accurate representation of the different types of sexual experiences that girls can have when they are first experiencing sex (via the angela-sharon-rayanne spectrum) without claiming that one is right or wrong. i think that the show does a very good job of suggesting that sex when you are young can be very confusing and not always very rewarding, and yet mscl does not wholeheartedly condemn sex or promote abstinence.
but we'd be poor readers of the show if we did not acknowledge the satisfying, safe, and egalitarian sex life that patty and graham share. i'm inclined to believe that the show's message is that you find good sex in a good relationship. that relationship may have its ups and downs and at times your partner may not be perfect, but that a good sex life with someone can be achieved through trust and mutual responsibility and understanding. also, good sex needs to be worked at. it may not happen right away.
sharon's parents also have a great sex life. this is especially heart-warming because we know that camille suffered in high school from feeling unattractive and unpopular. maybe expecting enjoyment and fulfillment from sex in high school is setting your hopes too high. are the brians and jordans of the world really capable of giving a girl all that she needs? she may have to wait until they grow up.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests