Discussion for Episode 1: the Pilot

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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starbug
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Post by starbug » Jan 15th 2003, 7:34 am

Ok, so I've done my homework now, and I have some thoughts which I'd like to share.

the cheerleader - I actually have a slightly different take on this than you guys. I agree that she's there for scene related fluency etc. But the main significance I see is that who they chose to be crying, is a cheerleader, ie the very person who is meant to represent happy, enthusiastic, 'up' emotions, and to lead the rest of the school in one uniform supportive role etc. I think this is our first indication of a theme of MSCL - surface 'roles' in society don't necessarily tie in with the reality of what is happening. Adults see things differently (according to social norms) than how they are in reality. I think this carries through nicely to Angela's objections to Yearbook and her reasons why she left. Because it seems false and not representative of the truth. 'You agree to have a certain personality or something'. Here, we have seen the 'personality' usually projected on to cheerleaders being smashed.
I always thought it was a very powerful moment.

the number 3 - just noticed this is on Brian's shirt when he's talking to Angela before and after Let's Bolt. Given the other times we have seen '3' in the show later (Katimski's apartment for example) is '3' representative of protection, and love?

graham/angela I love the scene where she's in the towel and he can't deal with it. It just struck me as a perfect way of getting across how Angela's relationships with people all areas of her life are changing. And I believe he says 'if I could tell her, I would'. This would tie in with the idea that he just has no idea how to handle their changing relationship.

'cool' people I also think it is so clever how characters are instantly categorised into 'cool' people by just a few words. Patty and Graham are seen as cool when they make clear that they messed around in high school too. They are not above understanding what Angela is going through. Rayanne is 'cool' the minute Angela says 'Rayanne always knows who's going to be there'. It takes one second, and their status is established.

Also, Angela's black jumper in the year book meeting serves to emphasize her hair colour. The change in her really stands out and it's very visual. In the same scene, I disagree that Brian is wearing a headband. I think his hair is gelled or something.
Sharon has by far the best withering looks IMHO :D

it's an emergency - Rayanne says this a couple of times in this episode. It's repeated in later episodes too. I think her frequent use of it demonstrates how she is unable to distinguish between things that are, and are not, emergencies. In the parking lot at Let's Bolt, she says it, and very soon it is followed up with a real emergency. I'm not too sure of my ground on this one - what do you guys think?

jordan at the party - what is it he's watching? Anyone know? is there any significance? Something I always wondered is why he doesn't seem to know her name at this point - he talks to her, but in the same way you'd speak to someone you'd never really met. It's a very closed conversation. Angela isn't 'cool' at this point, I think. She looks totally out of place (agree with whoever said that before), nervous, she's covered in mud, and she just looks like she has no idea what is going on. In contrast, at Let's Bolt, he sees her getting into the Squad. She's cool. She's with Rayanne, who Jordan knows, and they are being taken away. It's something that sticks in his mind, and it was the perfect moment for him to see her. She's no longer the boring girl at school who melts into one with all the other Sharon-types. She has broken away from that enough for him to properly notice her.

Angela/Sharon - in the bathroom. 'It's not like one thing' sharon did. This, I think, is one of the best, most true, moments in this episode. Like when you fall in/out of love with someone, you wake up one day and realise that it's happened. You can't pinpoint it to one thing, you just know it will never be the same. There's nothing they did. You changed. You changed your opinion, and you can't pin down why. You want to tell them how you feel, but it's impossible to articulate because you can't come up with a proper reason. Sharon's response to the scene is completely understandable, but it's Angela's who I can most empathise with here. She wants to explain to Sharon, but there aren't any words, or reasons.

Danielle - her manners have always irritated me. If I interrupted constantly while others were talking, I would have been punished. It just really winds me up that Patty and Graham don't do it. Great acting though...



Rayanne's boots - I agree, Candygirl, they're stockings with some fold-over tassel things... hehehe.

Angela's apology to Patty. What's on the TV in the background. Is there any significance to it?

'We had a time' I think this is an amazing link established between Angela and Rayanne. We see that although Rayanne and Angela are very different, they have a chunk of common ground because Rayanne too cares what people think. She inflates a time where nothing exciting really happened, they all hung out in a parking lot, to make herself look good in front of her friends. It brings the episode and the theme of perceptions people have not necessarily reflecting reality, to a close. We see how people's perceptions start to take shape, and a synergie in the personalities of Angela and Rayanne.

So, that's all I have for the moment. More stuff will pop up as we continue to discuss, I think. I'd be interested to know people's views on my ideas. :) This is a great idea - thanks Candygirl and Nightjessi.

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Post by Sascha (sab) » Jan 15th 2003, 8:59 am

starbug wrote: Angela's apology to Patty. What's on the TV in the background. Is there any significance to it?
That's "It's a wonderful world" with Jimmy Stewart, directed by Frank Capra. George Baileys daughter Zuzu gives him the rose petals in that scene. It's the typical Capra "cameo" like in every Bedford Falls production (Bedford Falls is also the name of the city in "It's a wonderful world").
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Post by starbug » Jan 15th 2003, 9:54 am

sab wrote:
starbug wrote: Angela's apology to Patty. What's on the TV in the background. Is there any significance to it?
That's "It's a wonderful world" with Jimmy Stewart, directed by Frank Capra. George Baileys daughter Zuzu gives him the rose petals in that scene. It's the typical Capra "cameo" like in every Bedford Falls production (Bedford Falls is also the name of the city in "It's a wonderful world").
Cool - I've never seen it, but if I'm not mistaken, it is also on the TV in a later episode (recalling from other discussions on the forum). Is it called 'It's a Wonderful Life'? Or am I getting muddled?

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Post by Sascha (sab) » Jan 15th 2003, 10:32 am

starbug wrote: Cool - I've never seen it, but if I'm not mistaken, it is also on the TV in a later episode (recalling from other discussions on the forum). Is it called 'It's a Wonderful Life'?
Whoops, yeah, it's "Life", not "World".

I can't remember right now whether "It's a wonderful life" appears also in another episode.
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Post by Megs » Jan 15th 2003, 12:40 pm

sab wrote:I can't remember right now whether "It's a wonderful life" appears also in another episode.
It's on the TV that Brian is watching at the Chase house in "So Called Angels".
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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 15th 2003, 1:19 pm

Video Jordan is watching at party -- It looks like "I Touch Myself," but I don't remember the group who sings it. That song/video was very popular on MTV at the time.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by starbug » Jan 15th 2003, 1:25 pm

TomSpeed wrote:Video Jordan is watching at party -- It looks like "I Touch Myself," but I don't remember the group who sings it. That song/video was very popular on MTV at the time.
Ahhh. The Divinyls, I think... that would explain why it's on my Unofficial soundtrack - I did wonder (though not too hard) about that. Thanks :)

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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 15th 2003, 4:04 pm

The significance of "I Touch Myself" song -- This song is probably used for a reason (s). Notice Jordan is practically sleeping and the sound is muted. Notice Angela turning her attention to the video. The singer, like Sharon, is well endowed. What outlet does Angela have for her feelings for Jordan at this point? Subtle messages...
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by Megs » Jan 15th 2003, 4:08 pm

TomSpeed wrote:The significance of "I Touch Myself" song -- This song is probably used for a reason (s). Notice Jordan is practically sleeping and the sound is muted. Notice Angela turning her attention to the video. The singer, like Sharon, is well endowed. What outlet does Angela have for her feelings for Jordan at this point? Subtle messages...
Can you explain this a little further? Maybe it's mid-afternoon sleepiness, but I don't know what you're saying. Thanks :D

And I have not done my homework yet. :oops: I would really love to join in the discussion, so I will try to watch The Pilot tonight and take notes. :wink:
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Post by likelife » Jan 15th 2003, 4:19 pm

starbug -
what you said about the cheerleader is pretty much the same conclusion i came to... it's somewhere up there in all the stuff that i wrote.

as for jordan and the music video -
i thought it was great that it was a super sexual, kind of over the top group of images that he was watching so nonchalantly. it's always slightly embarrassing to watch sex or sexual thing on television when you are a teenager, and i'd imagine that angela would NOT know how to act around her crush.. especially if the words WERE audible! jordan is jaded and takes for granted the barely-there clothes of the woman on tv, while angela is sitting there in her little party dress. whether they know it or not, they are looking at each other over that same line that angela talks about later in pressure -- people who have, and haven;t had sex.... or in angela and jordan's case, people who are, and are not comfortable with "sex drugs and rock n' roll," all of which permeate the new chapter of angela's life that is just beginning. too far fetched?

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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 15th 2003, 4:45 pm

likelife wrote:starbug -
what you said about the cheerleader is pretty much the same conclusion i came to... it's somewhere up there in all the stuff that i wrote.

as for jordan and the music video -
i thought it was great that it was a super sexual, kind of over the top group of images that he was watching so nonchalantly. it's always slightly embarrassing to watch sex or sexual thing on television when you are a teenager, and i'd imagine that angela would NOT know how to act around her crush.. especially if the words WERE audible! jordan is jaded and takes for granted the barely-there clothes of the woman on tv, while angela is sitting there in her little party dress. whether they know it or not, they are looking at each other over that same line that angela talks about later in pressure -- people who have, and haven;t had sex.... or in angela and jordan's case, people who are, and are not comfortable with "sex drugs and rock n' roll," all of which permeate the new chapter of angela's life that is just beginning. too far fetched?
Yes, and I would like to add this spin. I think Winnie is pulling a fast one over ABC's censors. The song is about masturbation. The song is muted, but teenagers at the time surely know what the song is about. The show is years before "Master of My Own Domain" (Seinfeld). Jordan pays the video little attention. He is not a virgin. Angela pays attention to the video. The singer is shown. She has large breasts. Angela does not. So, I interpret the choice of the video to mean that Angela masturbates and that she perceives her lacking in the breasts department.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 15th 2003, 4:48 pm

I think the DiVinyls video is similar to the "It's a Wonderful Life" in the background as subtext. If you look at the lyrics to "I Touch Myself," how much of it applies to Angela's feelings of obsessions for Jordan?
I love myself
I want you to love me
When I'm feelin' down
I want you above me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

You're the one who makes me come running
You're the sun who makes me shine
When you're around I'm always laughing
I want to make you mine

I close my eyes
And see you before me
Think I would die
If you were to ignore me
A fool could see
Just how much I adore you
I get down on my knees
I'd do anything for you

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

I love myself
I want you to love me
When I'm feelin' down
I want you above me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

I want you
I don't want anybody else
And when I think about you
I touch myself
Ooh, oooh, oooooh, aaaaaah

I, I, I, I, I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
Oh I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself

I touch myself (7x)
I honestly do
I touch myself (3x)
I honestly do
I touch myself...
All joking about masturbation aside, if you look at Angela's projection, as well as her attempts at conversation with Jordan (and remember, she would like "sex or a conversation, ideally both"), the song is very appropriate - foreshadowing, if you will. She wants Jordan but a relationship with him is nowhere in sight, so she does what she needs to do to make herself feel good (which is obsess about him). If that isn't mental masturbation, I don't know what is.

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Post by likelife » Jan 15th 2003, 5:00 pm

candygirl -
good call with the mental masturbation! also,, it IS funny if it's a censorship issue. i love it when people find ways around the rules 8) .

i never caught on to the big breasts thing. maybe that's because i am more of a sharon than an angela and i HATE it!! i always thought that angela had no idea how lucky she was.

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jan 15th 2003, 5:09 pm

I have to admit that I have a special place in my heart for that song. In my HEART, people!

:wink:

Besides the fact that it's a funny song that reminds me of high school (and a friend who insisted on saying, "you know, when I think about you...I touch myself" regularly), the MSCL reference, and seeing Austin Powers out-mojo-ing the Fembots with it, one night my friends and I went to a piano bar called Sing Sing. For those of you who don't live in Denver, San Diego, Irvine, or Pittsburgh, there are two piano players who choose requests that the drunk customers have thrown onto the top of the pianos (common requests: "Play You Shook Me All Night Long for my friend Amy who is here having her bachelorette party!" you get the general idea). Anyway, I have been called up onstage not once, but TWICE, both times for this song. The first time two of my friends went with me, and then the piano players let five or six other girls come up. The second time, it was just me and another girl who were under orders to do "an interpretive dance." You can imagine what that looked like!

:shock:

:oops:

:P
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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 16th 2003, 12:52 am

Rewatching "Pilot" tonight. Dinner at the Chases, etc. I would like to know just how Patty and Graham got togther. They didn't know each other in high school according to Angela. They only knew of each other. However, Graham seems to know an awful lot about Patty -- how many friends she had and the postponement of the prom for Patty's appendix operation. Granted "Pilot" is almost totally told from Angela's POV, but I would have liked there to be more development of the story of how her parents got togther. My imagination tells me that Graham was Patty's Brian and Patty was Graham's Angela. However, we really don't know how they fell in love.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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