Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
JasonM
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Post by JasonM » Oct 19th 2006, 1:23 pm

A question about a "quote" from this episode:

After getting out of Vic's car, we have this exchange between Brian & Angela:

Angela: Like what?
Brian: Nothing. So, is there, like, anyone's car you won't get into?
Angela: Right. I live my life to annoy you, Krakow. You're, like, my
world.

It's been a while since I watched the series, isn't there a scene in another episode where Angela approaches Brian, and he turns to her and says (sarcastically)"you're my world"?

I coudn't find it on the site. Thanks,

JM

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Oct 19th 2006, 2:12 pm

You can find transcripts of all MSCL episodes here!
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Post by Jody Barsch* » Oct 19th 2006, 8:10 pm

JasonM wrote:It's been a while since I watched the series, isn't there a scene in another episode where Angela approaches Brian, and he turns to her and says (sarcastically)"you're my world"?
That doesn't sound familiar to me ...
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Post by Megs » Oct 27th 2006, 10:21 pm

Yeah, I don't recall that ever happening. Sorry!
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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by Christina_in_color » Jan 14th 2008, 4:56 pm

This is one of my favorite episodes. After reading that Winnie would have made Angela more politically active in a second season, I wonder if Jordan would have become closer to Angela or turned off to her because of it. Jordan was genuinely excited by Mr. Racine, enough to call out to the other students when he sees him leaving the school. I was rather surprised at his involvement in the candlelit writing sessions and honest class discussions, but it seems a less formal environment is what he needed to feel like he could participate without being judged. Could more confidence in his academic skills have shed his layer of apathy? Jordan's very nature leans towards questioning what he's told by authority, yet I'm not sure if he would have offered to help Angela hand out the Liberty Lit.

I'm guessing Jordan would have been turned on by Angela's assertiveness if he'd seen her hand out the Lit. Brian surely was. The ability to care about the world would have been an important trait for Angela's potential love interest as she continued to wake up. I wonder if politics would have divided Angela from her peers or helped her bait her potential suitors into caring more about the world at large?

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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by Jody Barsch* » Feb 7th 2008, 12:42 am

While I've always seen Jordan as a observant, I do see him as apathetic. Should Angela have become more tuned-in to the larger world around her, I don't see Jordan following suit. Seeing Angela passing out the Lit. after this had been forbidden would probably have peaked his interest, just as Angela walking out of the test in "Strangers in the House" did, but I believe it would have ended there. Jordan seems to enjoy being surprised when people confound his expectations and fail to be predictable archetypes (I love how intrigued he is by the bear), but I think that much more time would have to pass before Jordan emerges from his malaise and engages with the world.

But then, there are moments in the series when his assertiveness takes me by surprise, so I could be wrong.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by Christina_in_color » Feb 16th 2008, 5:09 am

Jody Barsch* wrote:I think that much more time would have to pass before Jordan emerges from his malaise and engages with the world.
I completely agree. Jordan takes baby steps in the series towards caring about others than himself, but it would take years to chip away enough at his stoic shield for him to become passionate about society's greater good, assuming of course that he continues in a positive direction.

When I mentioned in my earlier post that I thought he would be turned on by Angela's activism, I meant sexually. Jordan admits to Rayanne in "Betrayal" that he's intrigued (or at least notices fondly) that Angela always says interesting stuff. Though he sometimes makes Angela feel abnormal for being different than his warped norm, he always seems to be drawn to her because of these differences. Good comparison with his brief concern in "Strangers in the House". I imagine that Jordan would admire Angela's convictions without becoming directly involved, willingly at least.

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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by majesty » Aug 5th 2008, 2:43 am

"The Substitute" is actually my least favorite episode of the series. I don't hate it, but I really don't like the main plot.

I do like Angela's poem, though. I think she has a future as a writer/poet. And I wonder what the discarded "Oak Tree" poem was about.

I also liked that she stood for her principles, and that we see the beginnings of a Sharon/Rayanne friendship.
Natasha (candygirl) wrote: Brian, Mr. Traditionalist, refuses to take part in Vic's candlelight writing session - again, so typical! He won't even sit on the floor or at a desk like everyone else - he stands up and doesn't pretend to take part.
I thought that part was so silly. I get that he's a traditionalist and may not be into creative approaches to education, but I can't understand why he would refuse to do an assignment, even if it is done by candlelight.

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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by TomSpeed » Aug 28th 2008, 9:29 pm

majesty wrote:"The Substitute" is actually my least favorite episode of the series. I don't hate it, but I really don't like the main plot.

I do like Angela's poem, though. I think she has a future as a writer/poet. And I wonder what the discarded "Oak Tree" poem was about.

I also liked that she stood for her principles, and that we see the beginnings of a Sharon/Rayanne friendship.
Natasha (candygirl) wrote: Brian, Mr. Traditionalist, refuses to take part in Vic's candlelight writing session - again, so typical! He won't even sit on the floor or at a desk like everyone else - he stands up and doesn't pretend to take part.
I thought that part was so silly. I get that he's a traditionalist and may not be into creative approaches to education, but I can't understand why he would refuse to do an assignment, even if it is done by candlelight.
I just thought of a reason why Brian doesn't participate with the class: he's being a rebel himself. He's standing up for himself, like he does in the end of "Guns and Gossip." Would have it be easy for Brian to fake it to make it by participating? I think so. Would it be hard for Brian to go for the F instead of the A by not working hard? Towards the end this episode, he agrees to help distribute the banned student literary magazine, not because he agrees with it's content or with Vic's teaching methods, but because he respects and appreciates Angela's commitment to stand up for herself.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by HeyDave » Oct 24th 2008, 8:20 pm

Hey Guys,

I haven't been a member for long and have just picked up on the show again, but it's great to see people still discussion the show. I never thought I'd find anyone to discuss the show with and I hope it keeps up for a long time

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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by Cami A. » Oct 25th 2008, 2:04 am

Dave,

Yeah. I guess you could say there is still SOME discussion, but I think discussion has been dead here for a little while. I'm glad to see that someone has shown interest in discussing the episode/characters again, though. I am a fan since last year when I discovered streaming videos of MSCl on ABC.com. I never watched it in the 90s, never knew about it. I'm only 20 (nearly 21) but I instantly fell in love and bought the dvd box set. I write fanfiction for this wonderful show, and everything in my life seems to be a MSCL reference. It just really touched me somehow...It's such a smart series.

To stay on topic, tell me your thoughts about the Substitute! I've got a few thoughts of my own.

Cam
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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by HeyDave » Oct 25th 2008, 8:08 pm

Cam,

I actually picked up the show back when it Ran in MTV. I watched it a few times on ABC, but didn't really pick it up until then. I taped some episodes and watched them over the years, but really didn't get interested again until I saw Claire Danes in T3 (what can I say?) which re-kindled my spirit. I've really enjoyed watching the episodes again through the eyes of a "seasoned adult" this time around!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I have to agree with another poster in saying that the Substitute was one of my least favorite episodes. In fact, to be brutally honest, it's at the bottom of my list. For some reason, I just didn't like Vic's character at all. He just rubbed me the wrong way.

If were to have to guess, I' d have to say that Winne and Co were trying to show Angela's character maturing and starting to learn some of the brutal truths in life. One of the main ones being that our idols often don't turn out to be what we thought they were. To have looked up to someone to much only to find that they are actually a total loser must have been a tough pill to swallow. Part of the process I guess where Angela is starting to realize that adults are actually people to complete with faults and all. Like what she's seeing in her own parents.

I hate to cut this short, but I'm already running late for something tonight. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the episode at hand and promise to write back more later. I'd love to see some discussion on some of the other episodes, especially my favorites.

Dave

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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by Cami A. » Oct 27th 2008, 4:00 am

Dave,

Honestly, Substitute was not a stand out episode for me either. I can't say I disliked it because I love all of the episodes, but it lacked emotional content for me. I tend to enjoy the Pilot, Life of Brian, Other People's Mothers, Betrayal, and In Dreams Begin Responsibilities the best...And if I need cheering up "Weekend"...which is another least favorite episode for many people I've talked to--don't know why--almost every character is in it! I like the Xmas and New Years Episodes because Rickie's my favorite character, but they are a tad bit depressing...By the way there is a topic already made for discussion of each episode, if you hunt a little you will find them. I stirred up some conversation with a new member a few months ago, but since then nothing.

About Vic rubbing you the wrong way--I think that was the point--he was supposed to be a tool. I think the viewers were supposed to be brutally aware that he was an ass, while the students were disillusioned by his coolness and unorthodox teaching style. I kinda liked him in that he was easy to hate--it showed good acting and good writing!

And I think you are right about the message Winnie and Co were trying to get across, what I didn't get was that Angela stopped really caring about "principles" after that episode--but that's totally realistic because she was 15 and Jordan Catalano drama got in the way of activism! haha!--that's another thing that is wonderful about MSCL! It's so realistic--what would happen, happens...like the series finale--how she gets in the car with Jordan--totally what would've gone down!

My favorite thing about this Episode is watching Brian! He so funny how he stands up for what he believes in and refuses to participate in Racine's teaching plans! I love the scene where he comes to Angela's house to give her the oak tree poem Racine threw out the window, and she gives him this look when her parents get all fussy!
And later when he offers to help Angela distribute the "illegal" copies of the Liberty Lit, he's so cute! I love Brian and his dynamic with Angela...
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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by MonnyUK2 » Oct 27th 2008, 10:29 am

Cami and Dave,
I agree with what you guys said. I always want to talk about this show although many that I know don't remember it. I discovered the show again last year and bought the shout factory DVD. I loved Brian in this epidode too and he is the only one who can see Vic for what he is. In this episode he is the rebel while all the rebels are doing what they are told in class. Rayanne and Jordan take a particular liking to him because he doesn't do things by the book and in his own way a rebel like them. I think Angela likes him because she herself is going thorough a rebellious stage. Being a teacher myself I always wanted to walk in to the class and put my feet up and chew on a match, lol! I did like Vic myself but I felt that he did have a talent but his won politics got in the way.

I always look for moments between Brian and Angela as I love Brian too. IF you analyse each episode I don't think Angela spends as much time with him as with other characters but I guess if there had been another series that would have changed.

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Re: Discussion for Episode 6: the Substitute

Post by HeyDave » Oct 28th 2008, 7:25 pm

Hi Cami & Monny,

I think we pretty much on the same page regarding the Substitute. I totally love all the episodes, but the Substitute still is at the bottom of my list. Speaking of lists, I tried to jot down some of my favorite episodes for you and found myself listing almost all of them!! I do have my favorites, but even the others have great scenes that make it almost impossible to choose. One example that comes to mind is the second episode, Dancing in the Dark. While it’s a fine episode, it probably wouldn’t make my top five list. However, I just totally love the scene where Graham and Angela are discussing boys over warmed up spaghetti. Where Graham is telling her that boys don’t always know how to be what you want them to be. As a grown man that lived through being a 15 boy complete with raging hormones and conflicting values on how to treat others, I can totally relate. It’s just totally ironic, that a conversation between a father and daughter could hit so close to home for me. But then, that’s why the show is so special.

Anyway, getting back on topic, I do like your thoughts on Vic and the actor that played him. He did an excellent job of making us dislike him while coming across as cool to a bunch of kids. Your thoughts on Angela’s principles falling by the wayside were interesting also. Of all the thought I’ve given this series, that’s one thing that I totally missed. It is typical of young people (and us old folks) to throw everything to the side for love!! I guess if you look at the series overall, this episode is somewhat important in the fact that Angela learns a tough lesson about idols and them no always turning out how you thought they would. Just part of her development from a naive pre-teen into a young woman.
Manny, I also enjoyed your comments about the episode. I picked the show back up myself after buying the Shout Factory DVD’s. I got a real kick out of Brian in this Episode also. The writers did a great job of catching the essence of his “by the book” personality. The Brian and Angela scenes are some of my favorite too and I would have loved to see what a second season would have done with this.

I will take Cami’s advice and take a look at the episode topics and try and jump in on some of the discussions there if you guys are game.

Dave

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