Discussion for Episode 7: Why Jordan Can't Read

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Natasha (candygirl)
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Discussion for Episode 7: Why Jordan Can't Read

Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 24th 2003, 3:17 am

Welcome to our seventh MSCL.com episode discussion!

If you haven't already done so, please read the info about the weekly discussions here.

I highly recommend reading theAngela's World essay that pertains to this episode.

Other threads related to Why Jordan Can't Read that may be of interest are:
Who is Red?
Germaine Greer
Question about artwork in WJCR
has anyone seen the Bicycle Thief?
fantasy vs. reality
the contradiction that we call Jordan
Rickie and Jordan
Angela's "relationship" with Jordan
Jordan and Angela
Shane
Angela is the Bicycle Thief
a quintessential Angela-Jordan moment
Jordan's first feelings for Angela
number eight

Some threads about recurring themes:
food
hair as a metaphor
Angela, Rayanne, and Rickie
school
baggage
the contradiction that we call Rayanne
plaid
colors
product placement in MSCL?
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 24th 2003, 3:51 am

Some questions...

Angela states:
Love...is when you look into someone's eyes, and suddenly, you go all the way inside...to their soul...and you both know, instantly. I always imagined I would fall in love, nursing a blind soldier who was wounded in battle. Or maybe while rescuing someone in the middle of a blizzard, seconds before the avalanche hits.
Is this a very realistic way to view love? It seems as though Angela has a very dramatic view of love - both of her scenarios involve violence and then her saving them. To paraphrase, she wants to be wanted, she needs to be needed, she loves to be loved. It sounds like she has been reading too many novels fraught with tragedy as well as the concept of true love (or twooo wuv!). Does her overly romanticized theory that love means she will go all the way into someone's soul just by looking in their eyes bode well for her relationship with Jordan?

At the museum, it looks like Angela pulls her letter to Jordan out of the leotard she wears underneath her dress. So she was keeping it close to her heart? :wink: Or she just didn't have any pockets?

Angela's view of her relationship with Jordan at this point are telling: she claims that "he could have handled things differently" and that "he really did not know [her] at all...even though he acted like he did." Hearing her say those words to Rayanne, I thought, "What planet has she been living on?!" When did Jordan EVER act like he really knew her? What situation could he have handled differently? The rumor that they had sex? Or the night that he kissed her in front of Brian's house? She seems to be making "too big a deal out of things" (as Jordan later states very accurately).

At this point she has told him it was Thursday (not Friday) and watched a video with him at a party, acquired a fake ID from him, kissed him twice, briefly discussed his uncle choking, talked about the rumor, and paid him back for the fake ID by letting him scalp her Dead tickets. This is not exactly what I would describe as a "relationship" and she seems a bit presumptuous for assuming so. If any relationship occurred, it was all in her head. She seems to realize this later in the episode when she tells Rayanne, "Your relationships may be short, but at least they're real. At least you're not making them all up."

Her conversation with Jordan encapsulates the idea that she makes too big a deal out of things: he tells her he has a song stuck in his head, he says he could use a cup of coffee, and he tells her about Frozen Embryos. She interprets this as a "really nice conversation." Maybe she has really low standards for what constitutes a conversation?

Does Jordan believe Angela's story about the dead boyfriend? Think about the previous lies he has been told about Angela or by Angela. Rayanne told him that she was French!

When Angela says, "Do you expect me to believe that?" (in response to Jordan claiming he didn't read the letter, he spits back, "I don't care what you believe!" Is this true? Does he really not care what she believes, or is he just trying to get out of there before she figures out his secret?

Angela says, "You must really think I'm stupid" and begins to leave. Why does Jordan bait her by saying, "It didn't hold my interest"? Does he really want to continue this strange discussion?

Angela tells Rayanne, "I understand him in this way I didn't even know existed. And it has completely changed everything." Why does she think that knowing Jordan's secret has changed anything?

How did Angela get Patty's permission to go to "band practice" on a school night? Was Patty so busy obsessing about her possible pregnancy to enforce her own rules?

Does Jordan have aspirations to make snow or was he just making conversation?

Graham responds to Patty's list of dating rules with a breathless "wow," but are the rules that strict? I thought they were pretty lax. Then again, my parents were pretty strict so in comparison, Patty's rules are a piece of cake!

Why is Angela so intent on having Jordan meet her parents that night? He could have just met them that weekend when he came to pick her up for the movie.

Why does Angela choose The Bicycle Thief as a movie to see with Jordan? Given Jordan's confession regarding his reading skills, this seems an especially cruel choice since the movie is in Italian, meaning he will have to spend two hours reading the subtitles in English. Does "Red" really remind her of the Bicycle Thief? If so, why? (I saw the Bicycle Thief and "Red" didn't remind me of it at all!)

Has Sharon had sex with Kyle at this point? Her guilty expression (as well as her hemming and hawing) prior to her self-righteous speech about her "solemn promise" seem to indicate she has. Then again, maybe the reason that she and Kyle make out so much is because they haven't had sex yet! Seriously, the way she tells Rayanne that maybe "[Rayanne] hasn't found the right person yet" seems like Sharon admitting that her sex life with Kyle is reaching the heights of ecstasy because he is right for her and she wishes that Rayanne could feel that.

When Rickie tells Angela, "You haven't even heard his side yet," is he just playing devil's advocate or is he actively defending Jordan in an attempt to live vicariously through her relationship with Jordan? Does Rickie still have a crush on Jordan? It's true that once you know someone's schedule, it's still filed away in your head so that could explain his detailed recall of where Angela should be if she wants to run into Jordan, but the way that Rickie looks at Jordan's hand on his shoulder before telling him he should have called speaks volumes IMHO.
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Post by sid_barrett » Feb 24th 2003, 3:53 am

one of the best things in ths episode is the practice hello to Jordan. what a great idea, and the fact that all the people repeat the same exact actions just make the vision more sureal (no, i cant spell). how many times have you done the same thing?
the opening scene where Angela talks about falling in love is a great example on the fantacy aspect she puts into Jordan. of course fantacys can never follow through into real life. great episode, story and direction. but ill let the experts take it from here;)
"...and I said ' oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, what a feeling'"

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 24th 2003, 4:30 am

Some observations...

I love Patty's statement at the beginning of the episode, "What if I'm not tired? What if this is what I really look like now?" I have had those days too. Incidentally, I believe this is the first look we get at Graham and Patty's bathroom.

Graham says that today is Thursday the 12th, which can't possibly be true. We have already established that it was October in Dancing in the Dark, and October 12, 1994, was actually a Wednesday.

Similar to the opening scene in the Substitute where everyone's actions reflected their personalities, so too does the scene in the museum. Kyle and Sharon are making out again (I swear that they look at the world as different settings where they can make out), Brian is taking notes, Rayanne is drinking and flirting with guys (this time it's George, the security guard who will never be seen or heard from after this episode - typical of Rayanne's intense but brief flings), Rickie drifts off on his own, and Angela sees it as another opportunity to talk to Jordan.

Watching this episode reminded me of something I once learned at work: humming is great to do and annoying to hear other people do. This girl used to hum really loudly all the time. Even worse she would start singing. Not softly under her breath - really loudly. She was in choir so she thought was hot sh!t and wanted everyone else to think so too. Ugh. Anyway.

Another first occurs in this episode - we see Jordan in class with school stuff! He has Angela's note in a red binder.

Another first - Rayanne calls Angela "Angelika." I could be wrong, so if anyone noticed her saying this in a previous episode, please correct me.

At rehearsal, Rayanne goes to call George then comes back and announces "we're leaving" without consulting Rickie! You know Rickie wants to stay and watch Jordan. Seriously, Rickie still hasn't found his voice so he goes along with Rayanne's plan to leave. Does this mean that they are going somewhere with George?

Another example of Graham letting Patty make decisions is the dating rules. He cops out by asking, "Like what?" thereby forcing Patty to come up with all the terms and conditions (and take the flak for it when Angela says it's humiliating to parade someone around for them). He also undermines Patty's authority with his "wow" comment. :evil:

I noticed that despite Angela's new affinity for coffee, she doesn't actually drink it and ends up dumping it into the sink. Ahhhh, youth.

Although the transitions aren't nearly as stunning as they were during the first few episode, they are still pretty good. I love seeing Jordan squatting on the floor with his hands in his hair (feeling guilty as he should!) and then moments later Angela mirrors his position in front of her closet before crumpling to the floor.

Another great transition is Rayanne's discussion with Sharon about feeling numb during sex and then the next scene begins with Angela saying she wishes she could be like Rayanne. :D

Patty's pregnancy scare: I find it interesting that when she comes out of the bathroom looking exhilerated, Graham assumes that she IS pregnant. They do communicate well, for the most part, as evidenced by Patty's ability to read Graham's disappointment, but sometimes they get their signals crossed. Patty's discussion with Angela regarding the possible pregnancy (after the fact, mind you!) illustrates that Patty is beginning to view Angela less as a child and more as an adult (I certainly can't imagine her having the same conversation with Danielle who is still firmly in the child category). The irony of it is Angela's reaction, which proves that she is not yet ready to be Patty's equal as an adult.

One last note before I go to bed - Angela throws like a girl! And I'm not just talking about the last one that went into the street - the first time she threw the ball at Brian, it was pretty wild. :p
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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 24th 2003, 12:17 pm

candygirl wrote: One last note before I go to bed - Angela throws like a girl! And I'm not just talking about the last one that went into the street - the first time she threw the ball at Brian, it was pretty wild. :p
I think Angela's first throw is intended to hit Brian's head. Of course, she doesn't throw it very hard, but her aim is true. Brian has to dodge and catch. At least we know that Brian is a little athletic.

My day has been kind of busy so far. I probably will be in and out. So, "Why Jordan Can't Read" might not get the one-day TomSpeed Treatment. This could be a bad thing or a good thing.
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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 TomSpeed » Feb 24th 2003, 1:12 pm

The beginning of "Why Jordan Can't Read" is intriguing. Yes, Angela does have an unrealistic view of love. In her defense, what 15 year old has a realistic view of love? What adult? Love is a very unrealistic concept. It means many different things to many people. I know these are kind of duh statements, but I think they are important statements.

I was 15 so long ago. Cue the Carson audience (How long ago was it?). It's kind of hard for me to remember what I believed love was then. I think I was caught up in Amber's young love=lust=sex theory. I knew that I liked and was attracted to certain girls. However, love was not a known term for me. Being somewhat analytical, like Brian, if I pressed myself, I could probably have made a hierarchy (like, really like, love=sex=something more?). Love probably seemed like some kind of unattainable thing.

I think girls are a little more grandiose in terms of what love is and isn't. They have been raised on stories of Prince Charming, etc. How long does it take to get that junk out of their heads?

Boys get saddled with a lot of junk, too. Girls have to be hot. They don't necessarily have to be smart.

I think the interesting part about Angela's view of love is that it assumes that the definition of love doesn't change.
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 TomSpeed » Feb 24th 2003, 2:03 pm

sid_barrett wrote:one of the best things in ths episode is the practice hello to Jordan. what a great idea, and the fact that all the people repeat the same exact actions just make the vision more sureal (no, i cant spell). how many times have you done the same thing?
the opening scene where Angela talks about falling in love is a great example on the fantacy aspect she puts into Jordan. of course fantacys can never follow through into real life. great episode, story and direction. but ill let the experts take it from here;)
I agree with you about Anegla practicing saying "hi" to Jordan -- she is practicing in her head. That's why the same people pass by her each times she says/thinks it. If she does this in reality, people would think she is weird. I practice things in my head all of the time. I did it a great deal more when I was Angela's age, esp. when it came to relating to girls. I can remember practicing talking, asking girls on dates or for their phone numbers or to carry their books, or to hold their hands, etc. I'd ask myself, how can I make this seem cool and natural? Attempting to practice being cool and natural just doesn't work. You usually come across as flustered and wooden. It's not surprising that when showtime comes she forgets all that she practiced.
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 TomSpeed » Feb 24th 2003, 2:32 pm

I love how Angela asks Jordan out when she waits for him outside of the gym. Her eyes, facial expression, and posture are so expressive. Her body is saying, "You know I'm asking you out, right?" I get goosebumps watching this scene. I think Jordan knows that she is asking him out, but having his friend waiting for him and his surpise probably make him take a little time before saying yes. Of course, he might also be thinking, "Why is she asking me out?"
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 K-man » Feb 24th 2003, 3:07 pm

This ep is such a favorite of mine. Soooo many terrific scenes! The opening with Angela's v/o is great. The scene where Jordan returns the letter to Angela after class is some great acting. And of course when Brian calls Jordan an idiot which sparks Angela's wrath. Wow! She got pissed!!! and fast. The scene in the kitchen when Patty lays down the groundrules for dating is one of the best in the whole series. IMHO. That particular scene was my first exposure to Life back in 1997. MTV was doing an all-day marathon on a Saturday and I happened to be surfing the channels before going to work and landed on that exchange. I thought "what a great show, with great acting". This episode takes our emotions on such a wild ride. Specifically; I was soo happy for Angela after she gets the ride home from Jordan and dances to the door. :D Then it is such a letdown when he is a no-show for meeting the folks. :cry: Then at the end when Patty tells Angela she thought she was pregnant and Angela begins cracking up. I laughed so hard the first time I saw that. :D :D How perfect Angela was able to smile again after being devastated the day before. Ahh......happy endings.
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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 24th 2003, 4:06 pm

I remember writing letters to girls I liked that expressed my true feelings for them. These letters were never intended to be delivered. There is something meaningful about writing one's feelings on paper. The feelings become concrete and tangible. They also seem to mean more in writing than they do in your head. However, putting your thoughts in writing has the effect of making you wonder if you can see your thoughts so clearly, why can't other people? I can relate to how exposed Angela feels in this episode once she finds out that Jordan has the letter. Fortunately, no one got my letters unless I wanted them to get them.

I remember trying to save a floundering relationship by writing and delivering such a letter during my adulthood. It was probably an act of desperation on my part. I wanted so much to tell her all of the things she meant to me. The act of stripping myself bare, sacrificing myself, seemed important. This act had mixed results. Many of the things I wrote, she already knew. And we broke up anyway.
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 Guest » Feb 24th 2003, 5:35 pm

wow, good point about the cruelty of taking Jordon to the Bicycle Theif, I had never even thought of that! What would make her think he'd ever want to see it?

When Angela pulls the 5 page note out of her leotard I'm assuming she is keeping it VERY close to her for fear of loosing it. I know I can get paranoid about stuff like that as well, and I would prob keep it there.

Jordon is dead on when he explains to Rickie that Angela makes too big of deal over things.... This episode is also one of times where Angela lies to him again (dead boyfriend- I cringe when she's doing that whole speal), and makes sence of later (sorry- other episode) when Jordon points out she lies quite often to him.

I almost die when Angela says "we kept it loose" and returns to her bedroom to cry.... Jordon can be such a bastard.... but really, Angela does expect too much from him being "the way he is." Poor girl though.... I can relate to her in so many ways. I for one also make too big of a deal over things, I just don't understand how some people don't.

I adore Angela in the episode.

By the way Candygirl.... I've been trying to figure out what age range your in. Would you mind giving a tiny bit of help- if you don't mind???

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Post by Lindsay » Feb 24th 2003, 5:37 pm

Sorry, that was me above.

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 24th 2003, 6:32 pm

The carelessness Rayanne shows in losing Angela's letter really disturbs me. Angela explains how important the letter is to her. Rayanne looses it. Hello? Does Rayanne really care about Angela? Or, if she does care about her, does Rayanne's preoccuptation with herself run too deep? Is she just careless?
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 likelife » Feb 24th 2003, 6:55 pm

angela's views on love

has anyone seen or read anne of green gables? you know the scene when she accidentally forgets to cover the pudding because she used the cheese cloth as a veil and was pretending to be a nurse who was nursing a dying soldier? the end result is quite funny - a mouse drowns in the pudding and anne's favorite teacher almost takes a bite -- but my point is that i have always assumed that angela's fantasies about love were rip-offs/allusions/or at least reminiscent of this... plus, she's an imaginative redhead.
i think you are quite right, tompseed, that angela is just at the perfect age to have skewed ideas about love. i also agree that young women are fed so much crap about prince charming and what they ought to expect that we have a hard time having anotion of what real romantic love might be like. her ideas about love show us angela's diametric opposition to rayanne; angela has held her feelings in and fixated on one boy, idealizing and hoping that one day their love will be glorious (and real). rayanne is worried that she will miss out (or something?) if she does not try out as many different kinds of guys as possible. she wants to be sure that she has not missed her chance.

angela makes a big deal out of everything, but...

okay, yes, angela does make a big deal out of most things. she assumes that she and jordan have a RELATIONSHIP to speak of and many of us would not credit them with that. she also overanalyzes eveything that anyone ever says to her.
BUT, let's be fair. there is an unspoken connection between angela and jordan. maybe it's chemistry, maybe it's a crush, maybe it's that they do not need to say that much to one another in order to be close. i am not trying to claim that these two are an ideal couple -- not at all. but i do think that we would be making an oversight to claim that there's nothing between them.
i'd argue that there's little between them that would allow angela to EXPECT anything from jordan, i mean, they are not dating and they are not close friends, but nonetheless, i believe they have a connection.
jordan treats angela differently than he treats other girls he;s been involved with. they do not just umm, and in fact theur relationship becomes stronger after each failed attempt at intimacy, starting with the second episode. we will never know what angela expressed in her letter, exactly, but let's hope that she is speaking more about her feelings and about his and her actions than about a completely imagined love affair.

and what makes their conversation so great?

angela and jordan;s conversation in the museum is great because it's a conversation, that's all. angela has longed for a time when talking to jordan would not scare her to death. she is also curious about the "real" jordan because she KNOWS that she has imagined a good deal of his personality. i think he feels liberated to suddenly be able to form sentences in his presence and even more so that he is responding in a friendly manner. the mere fact that he is interested in talking to her when they are not about to make out seems great to her. i get where she's coming from. i'm not saying they had a deep, meaningful talk or anything.

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Post by likelife » Feb 24th 2003, 7:02 pm

tomspeed - i agree that rayanne losing the letter is really disrespcetful and also quite irresponsible. after watching the whole series a few times i've decided that this episode and halloween are two in which we see rayanne's drinkinh getting worse and worse. her drinking is keeping her from having a level head and also from keeping her priorities straight.
i would not be surprised if it was her slight inebriation that allows her to be so frank with sharon in the bathroom (the duh squared conversation!).

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