Discussion for Episode 4: Father Figures

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Post by likelife » Feb 3rd 2003, 6:08 pm

short post about brian's car:
i do not think it's too outlandish to assume that one of brian's parents actually drives that car. true, they are mental health professionals and thus might have the money to drive beemers (but maybe not -- because freudian and behavioral pursuits sound like ones that may be more prevalent in universities than they are in lucrative practices... though i guess it all depends...) but they are also the type of no-nonsense people who make brian eat balanced meals and over-analyze everything. i would not be surprised if they are very careful about their finances (brian jokes that they are prob. getting the "best penmanship" prize on their taxes), and choose not to buy a new car until they have driven the old one to the ground. they sound like serious intellectuals, and having grown up in a family laden with those, i'd say that material possessions and wealth are not synonymous. in fact, my family is the type of family to look DOWN on someone buying a fancy new car, especially if there is no need. i always assumed that brian's family was sort of like that.
oh, and i think he says "my car" the way we say "my house" when we are kids. we do not pay the rent or the mortgage, we do not do most of the chores or upkeep, and yet we talk as though we have ownership.

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 3rd 2003, 6:11 pm

Buying a car for a kid before he can leagally drive it is a diabolical form of torture :!: :!: :!: "Here's your car, Brian. Too bad you can't drive it until next year." Could his parents be that sadistic? Would Brian not sneak a drive a la Ferris Bueller? That's an episode in and of itself.
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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?
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Post by SanDeE* » Feb 3rd 2003, 7:57 pm

Brian's too much like Cameron. Although, I think that perhaps Brian would go on a joyride, but only if Angela persuaded him! And what would the chances of that be?! I like it when Brian takes his sweatshirt off and gives it to Angela. Boy, he's cute! I think he's just used to being on edge with Angela and Angela being on edge with him. They are so short with each other that he perhaps didn't know what else to say besides, "just don't try to sweat in it." He doesn't know how else to be around Angela. I love the tension between them.
Um, in my room, one seam is a little off and I stare at it constantly. It's, like, destroying me.

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 3rd 2003, 8:07 pm

Ha, the weird thing is about 20 minutes ago I was talking to a friend of mine and he started singing, "Let my Cameron go..."

:lol:

I'm not sure what circumstances would convince Brian to go for a joyride. On one hand, he's pretty uptight about following the rules, which makes me think that he would be terrified to do something as illegal as drive a car illegally. On the other hand, the fact that he says his parents wouldn't notice if Angela came inside and went upstairs to his room makes me think that he knows how much he can get away with. If he did sneak the car out, I think he would be more afraid of being pulled over than of being caught by his parents. Besides, his parents leave him at home alone (Dancing in the Dark, and later at Christmas) so if he just wanted to drive the car, he could do it when they are gone. I do believe, however, that if Angela came to him and claimed there was some sort of emergency, he could be persuaded to take the car out. As Brian demonstrates on several occassions, there is almost nothing he wouldn't do for her. As Sharon says, "I pity you." Poor Bri!
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Post by likelife » Feb 3rd 2003, 9:30 pm

okay, here goes...(by the way, all of the quotes below are from candygirl's first post)
When Rayanne finds out that Angela scalped their Grateful Dead tickets, Angela defends herself by saying, "You're always saying we should think of ways to make money." I don't recall Rayanne ever saying that to Angela, and I don't understand why Rayanne WOULD say that to Angela. Angela doesn't need money for any extraneous stuff (well, besides a fake ID) because her parents buy her clothes and necessities. Where did this weird excuse of hers come from?
i always thought this made perfect sense. sure, angela has a secure financial situation at home, but her parents do not seem like the type to give her lots of spending money. i can easily see how a fifteen year old could get that feeling of "always needing money" even if it's for things like a $30 fake id, a soda in the lunch room, money for a cab home when you stay out too late... and any numerous other things that angela (and rayanne especially) might crave, or see as desirous. those of us who now have jobs and are in the "real" world may forget how, not so long ago, thiry dollars was a big deal. also, can't you see patty as the sort of parent who buys you new boots in the winter because you NEED new boots, not because they are in style. my mom would never buy me stuff i just wanted, shebought me practical clothes and food.
Patty says things like "The IRS has all kinds of techniques to trip you up," and "It's exactly what all the books say never to do." Did Patty take time between the audit notice and Miss Mandeville's visit to do a bunch of IRS research?
patty is a worrier. also, we know that she reads women's magazines, some of which, i am sure, cater to the "working woman" and give all sorts of paranoid tips about taxes and managing money. she also sometimes talks with more authority than she has, in order to convince her sometimes less-than-aggressive family members of something that she feels strongly about.
When Angela explains that Graham thinks she is at the concert and he would be upset if he knew that she wasn't, Brian says, "Wow, your dad is so different from mine." What does he mean by that?
brian is alluding to his squarish parents vs. angela's "hippie" parents. graham wants angela to have fun, enjoy life, and do the things that he did... and the ones he was never able to do. brian assumes that his parents a) are too strict to let him go, and b) don't even know who the grateful dead are... or at least they only know enough to NOT let him to something like that. BUT, this statement of brian's shows that he doesn't realize that angela's parents can be strict, and often do not let her do the typical "fun" teenage stuff that he dreams about.
In this episode, Rickie reveals that he lives with his uncle, who he is afraid of. We never learn why he lives with his aunt and uncle instead of his parents - any theories?
i actually think that the show reveals some of it's strengths by not overexplaining rickie's situation. first of all, the show is primarily from angela's POV and SHE does not know why this is the case, at least not at this point in her friendship with rickie. anything angela does know about rickie, she's heard from rayanne. now, rayanne is a gossip, and she KNOWS things, but she also manages to overlook rickie's needs a lot (as we see in later episodes). i can imagine rickie talking about probs at home and rayanne responding with, "that sucks...." but never really BEING there to talk to him about it.
i also think that mscl deals with hardship and "social problems" in a much more realistic and natural way than other shows. rickie is not the "gay character" or the "hispanic character" or the "kid from a troubled home," but instead a complete character that has some of these characteristics.... thus, it's not so much important to know WHY rickie is in this situation, but rather to know how's he's dealing with it and what will happen to him... IMHO.

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Post by likelife » Feb 3rd 2003, 9:47 pm

and to continue, candygirl, ...
Although Patty and Graham are very defensive when Chuck mentions their rain gutter, Graham does go out to check on it and it turns out Chuck is right so Graham fixes it. "Father Knows Best"?
ugh! chuck annoys me so much! he and vivian are both so bossy with patty. i can imagine why patty likes to take control of others -- she never got to do that at home! they leave these subtle hints about how her marriage is not what they hoped, or how they think she should change her house around, or her kids... SO passive aggressive. anyway, about the gutter, i figure that graham is the type of family member who wants to help out around the house. he loves to make dinner and he'll gladly help his kids with homeowrk or whatever. but sometimes, he forgets to do those chores that are not immediate needs -- like wallpaper and gutters. i also think he avoids these tasks subconsciously because he is worried that he will not live up to chuck, other men, in terms of his fixit abilities. BUT, when push comes to shove, and when graham is bored or in a good mood, he gladly does these tasks. i wonder if he's a bit triumphant and patty's show of will power when she puts her dad in his place in front of the IRS agent. maybe graham realizes finally that HE is the man in patty's life, and he;s a little bit more willing to "be man, fix gutter." who knows.
Lots of orange juice in this episode - Graham asks Danielle if she wants some (and I love her response about the pulp!), Angela takes the glass that Danielle didn't want, Graham drinks some late at night. While we're on the subject of fruit - apples and oranges in this week's fruit basket on the kitchen counter.
when the chase family offers each other food and drink, it's typically nourishing or a sign of peace offering. OJ is good for you, indicative of a healthy breakfast in the morning, etc. appleas and oranges -- perishable fruits that signify growth and sexuality and health -- not things that you'd find in amber's house.
I love Graham's insight into Brian: "Well, I'd, I'd like to help you sir, but I'm too busy picturing your daughter naked."
ha ha! that's my dad's all-time favorite line from this! i think it's one of those moments in mscl when the guys in the audience can relate to both graham and brian. so well said. it's funny, though, that later, graham and brian wallpaper together.

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Post by likelife » Feb 3rd 2003, 10:00 pm

and yet another reply to candygirl --
very astute about rickie's beginning to find his voice. part of him seeing things from more than one side is that he does not yet have a strong voice of his own, but i think it also shows how fluid his character can be. he is not the type to easily jump to conclusions or hold grudges. he is a peacmaker and caregiver by nature, i think. if he did not have so many things going on at home, he'd be "there" for his friends 24-7.
i always thought he looked so handsome in that last scene of episode 4. i love his little vest and tie, or whatever it is.
rickie is the one, not rayanne, who realizes that angela may have had a real reason to give the tickets to jordan, or maybe even more than one. rayanne sees angela's act as being done TO HER, whereas rickie realizes that there are many possibilities.


oh, and p.s., i LOVE diagramming sentences! it's so awesome to show angela and jordan doing this together. there's the obvious foreshadowing that jordan cannot read well, but also, it shows so much about their personality types. angela overanalyzes everything. her sentences will be long, and her diagrams will be thorough, though probably not linear. jordan will barely understand the concept of digramming, seeing it as unecessary and far too planned (he is, after all, a "whatever happens, happens" kind of guy). his sentences will have few words and not reveal much at all.

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 3rd 2003, 11:20 pm

Kristin wrote:Brian's too much like Cameron. Although, I think that perhaps Brian would go on a joyride, but only if Angela persuaded him! And what would the chances of that be?! I like it when Brian takes his sweatshirt off and gives it to Angela. Boy, he's cute! I think he's just used to being on edge with Angela and Angela being on edge with him. They are so short with each other that he perhaps didn't know what else to say besides, "just don't try to sweat in it." He doesn't know how else to be around Angela. I love the tension between them.
Oh my God! Oooops. "You want my sweater?" Classic suave move. Of course, Brian follows that up with, "Try not to sweat in it." Notice that Angela takes his sweater. (She's putting it on before the sweat remark.) Is this an indication of Angela using someone? She could have said, "But, you will be cold." Or, she could have said, "I don't want your cooties." (OK, that one is a stretch, but you get the idea.) Sharing clothes is, IMHO, an act of intimacy. Of course, there are many different levels of intimacy. Cue Rayanne's cry to find Rickie's sock. On what plane of intimacy is Brian and Angela respectively on?
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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 likelife » Feb 3rd 2003, 11:42 pm

i think that angela and brian are on a more intimate level than either of them realizes. i do not mean sexually or even romantically intimate, however. i bet that only a few years earlier, angela and brian were over at each other's houses borrowing mittens in the winter or borrowing a new shirt if someone spilled paint on something (i'm thinking elementary school here). so yeah, they are comfortable enough with one another to offer and accept the shirt, but then brian's embarrassment at that comfort, that intimacy, is what causes him to say the sweat comment. angela may have weighed the option of refusing brian's sweater, either to be polite or to shirk off the intimacy, but some quick mental math would have told her that it would be easier to accept than to explain why she did not want it.
another thought -- angela has at least two close friends right now -- rickie and rayanne --, and most likely sharon has been a friend like this in the past, who will willingly trade clothes or offer a jacket for warmth. to angela, a friend offering a sweater is normal. why should it seem like she's taking advantage? after all, brian is about to go inside... while for brian, this act is out of the ordinary because he feels socially awkward with almost everyone, and probably has never shared his sweater! to him, it is a chance to be sweet to angela but it goes unnoticed.

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 3rd 2003, 11:51 pm

Snippet time. Forgive lack of quotes. You will know if I agree/disagree with you.

Brian's really saying to Angela, "Your parents are normal."

Diagraming sentences is busy work/grammar school stuff. But, you are right. Many high school/college students could not tell you to save their lives the difference between an adverb and an adjective. Heck, some young adults cannot even add and subtract. I was expected to teach Geometry to students who could't multiply when I was teaching.

Angela is jealous of Graham's attention to Rayanne and is upset over Graham's possible adultery. I think she wanted to hurt them both by giving away the Dead tickets. What's the female term for Oedipus (forgive my spelling) complex? Please call in Brian's father (He's the Freudian, right?) on this one.

The whiskers of fathers -- great echoing here -- Patty said that her father's whiskers hurt her when he hugged her as a child; they don't hurt any longer. Danielle loves Graham's "stubble." Angela probably doesn't like stubble.

"Well, I'd like to help you, Sir, but I'm too busy picturing your daughter naked." -- Graham This is one of my all time favorite lines. It is so true to life. Brian probably does picture Angela naked. I'm guess 16 hours a day. More if you count when he's awake. It's funny that Graham is acknowledging his daughter's sexuality to a certain degree when he wanted her to get a bigger towel in "Pilot" and didn't want to talk to her about her sex life in "Guns and Gossip." He is laughing at himself, which is always good.

If there is any scene in the series so far that has made me want to have children, it is the scene with Angela helping helping Graham fix the gutter. Angela's World has a good take on this scene. You know, I would hope I could talk straight with my daughter like Graham does in this scene. And, it thrills me that he asks her what type of music she likes. Parents taking an interest in their teenage children's lives. I'm shocked, shocked that gambling is going on here. (A blatant Casablanca rip off.) Parents need to take an interest in their children's lives. That interest shows that they care. Graham does it in such a great way, too. I can't remember a time when my mother and father asked me what things I liked, unless it was what I wanted for Christmas.

Anyway, I could go on...and on...and on. I probably will have more in a bit.
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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 dougjess » Feb 4th 2003, 12:27 am

TomSpeed wrote: Angela is jealous of Graham's attention to Rayanne and is upset over Graham's possible adultery. I think she wanted to hurt them both by giving away the Dead tickets. What's the female term for Oedipus (forgive my spelling) complex? Please call in Brian's father (He's the Freudian, right?) on this one.
I believe it's the Electra Complex. 8)

It's different from the Oedipus complex, but basically it's the female counterpart.

later
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 4th 2003, 4:29 am

As far as Angela sharing clothes with other people, I agree that she probably sees it as a normal thing - I can picture her borrowing a sweater from Sharon. After all, she has already traded shoes with Rayanne in the pilot. The difference here though is that Angela lets Brian offer his sweater (after her earlier comment "it's so freezing") but doesn't actually say, "Yes, I would like to borrow your sweater" but just stops walking to let him take it off so he can give it to her. You would think that she could at least acknowledge his offer and thank him.
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 4th 2003, 4:32 am

I am correcting myself - I just checked the transcript and Angela does reply "Okay" when Brian asks if he wants her sweater.

:oops:
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 4th 2003, 4:48 am

likelife wrote:he is a peacmaker and caregiver by nature, i think. if he did not have so many things going on at home, he'd be "there" for his friends 24-7.
I think that Rickie's personality is naturally inclined to being a peacemaker and a caregiver, BUT I think that his home situation has caused him to be even more so. Because his uncle is so violent, Rickie avoids conflict at all costs. Rayanne and Angela are his friends, so he doesn't want to see them fight. To his credit, he doesn't just tell them to kiss and make up - he tries to understand how they feel and then help each girl understand how the other feels. I think if he didn't have so much going on at home, he wouldn't need his friends to be there for him as much.
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Post by starbug » Feb 4th 2003, 11:37 am

I've got my notes and I'm ready to go...

first off,
dougjess wrote: It's different from the Oedipus complex, but basically it's the female counterpart.
Did anyone notice the Oedipus poster in the background in the classroom scene. Just as the camera pans across from Ms. Crazynowski :wink:

On a different note, I was interested by Graham's reactions to Rayanne and Rickie in this episode. When he meets Rickie his behaviour is a little odd - silent basically. They just have a quick 'hi, bye' and Graham looks at Rickie like he's a complete weirdo. Could this be because of Rickie's (at this point) ambiguous sexuality, a fact already brought out in previous episodes? Is he disapproving of Rickie, or just surprised? Contrast this to his entirely positive reaction to Rayanne. Rayanne is not your normal, stereotypical Angela-friend either, yet graham doesn't seem phased in the least. 'So, is this the famous Rayanne?'. They clearly get on well, and he makes a real effort with her. Why? Is he trying to impress Angela by being the 'cool dad'? This would make sense because Angela is in the room, whereas she's absent for his reaction to Rickie. Any thoughts anyone?

I agree with whoever it was that pointed out that Patty refers to Rayanne as 'that Rayanne person'. She does this twice in this episode as she is clearly trying to distance herself from Rayanne. She doesn't yet see her as an important person in Angela's life. It is a little hostile, and I was always surprised at Patty for it.

Great quote of the episode: 'Ignore Angela - she can't help herself. She's the product of a two-parent household.'

I think it's really interesting to look at the different reactions each 'daughter' (Patty and Angela) has to the misdemeanours of their fathers. Angela has a very immature reaction. She shuts him out - blames him for not being perfect ('Oh believe me, that's become really clear') and specifically does things to get at him. She gives him the silent treatment, leaving him unclear about what it is he is meant to have done (although it's obvious to the audience). She feels uncomfortable accepting the nice thing he does for her and Rayanne. The expression on her face while he is teaching Rayanne to cook speaks volumes. Angela would rather be right about her father, than have him turn out to be really an OK guy, and for her to have been wrong about him (of course she would rather none of this had come up but it is bound to). This is a very immature attitude.
Patty, on the other hand, deals with Chuck in a far more grown-up manner. She approaches him rationally, and while clearly upset that he fails to see her as an autonomous person ('who the hell are you to make an agreement?'), she soldiers on trying to salvage their relationship without it costing her dignity and independence.

This contrast between Angela and patty emphasizes that Angela still has a lot of growing up to do. It takes Rayanne to point this out to her.

My favourite scene in this episode is the cringeworthy one between the IRS lady, Chuck, Patty and Graham, where he is so obviously trying to worm his way out of paying his taxes... :oops:

Rickie also cracks me up: 'do you want me to talk to him? I'd be willing to do that'. He is clearly seeking a reason to talk to Jordan. This whole saga has nothing to do with him really, but he's still on the look out for an opportunity to speak to Jordan, who I remain convinced he has a crush on. He then questions Angela on selling the tickets to have a reason to talk to Jordan... class.

Rayanne has clearly had a glimpse of family life and is deeply jealous. 'I'm envious, I'm the green-eyed monster'. This colours her relationship with Angela from now on. I actually felt really sorry for Rayanne in this episode. She's seen something she wants (and is quite right to want) and she can't have it. She has a friend with the perfect life, and she doesn't want to be jealous but she is. Her friend doesn't appreciate what she has, instead hurting all those around her.

Chuck really got to me in this episode. What a horrible father. I just don't like how he treats Patty at all. Even to the last, he is unrepentant. 'It's not my doing'. He cannot accept responsibility, even though he is meant to be the more mature one, being the father. And although he tacitly apologises, or at least wants to calm the situation, this doesn't deal with the long term.

Also, I totally agree with the sentiment that Angela expressed. When Graham is angry with her, he doesn't yell or shout. He treats her with silence and a shut-off of the relationship. This is the tactic my own father uses and it's highly effective. You're left feeling so guilty you can hardly breathe...

I also think it's amusing how Brian recognises that his parents have that geeky image, and how he must realise that he's a product of them. My favourite quote that sums this up is 'mine have probably got an award for best penmanship on a tax return.' That line gets me every time :D You know your parents aren't cool, you know you can't do anything to change that... I love the acceptance but irritation this gets across.

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