Discussion for Episode 8: Strangers in the House

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Nostradamus
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Post by Nostradamus » Mar 5th 2003, 10:22 am

When Angela first sees her father comforting Sharon in the hall, I thought I noticed a brief twinge of jealousy, perhaps the last remnants of the mistrust she felt for Graham earlier that year, and the awkwardness she still has toward Sharon.

I like the way this episode is built around poor Andy Cherski, a character who is only occasionally mentioned throughout the series and seen just once, on a hospital monitor in this episode. Like Tino and the cat, Andy himself has almost no direct involvement in the series' plot, yet his illness provides the impetus for one of the best character development episodes. Other series that used this method include The West Wing's pilot episode and Deep Space Nine's "Who Mourns For Morn?". (In both of those episodes the plot-driving character doesn't even show up until the last scene.)

It has often been mentioned on this site that some of the characters were named after behind-the-scenes MSCL workers. In that vein, I find it interesting to note that Patty's employee was precognitively named after a man who became involved with the show several years after it was filmed! :wink:
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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 5th 2003, 11:02 am

I agree that Angela appears to be jealous of the fact that Graham comes to school to get Sharon. It seems to be a momentary flareup. When she's told Andy had a heart attack, she seems concerned for Sharon.
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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 likelife » Mar 6th 2003, 3:51 pm

tomspeed - we know that brian did not get an erection from that hug from sharon because in "the life of brian" he gets his first from actual physical contact!

i agree that angela has a momentary twinge of jealousy but i think it goes away. it's pretty nifty, though, how her seeing her dad and sharon from afar like that echoes the pilot when she saw graham and the tie-grabber...

sharon is so the type to have two beds in her room. very girly and sleep-overy.

yes, it's great the way andy cherski is a pivotal character in the episode and yet we never hear from him directly in the show. as stated many times before, mscl tends to focus on those people in life who find themselves outside of the norm. the characters are all marginal and speak with a diverse array of voices/POV's. andy cherski strikes me as your typical, successful, white, middle-class guy. he doesn't really get to have a voice in mscl because the show is not about him. this is not to say that he is silenced, or whatever, but just that MOST dramas and sitcoms on tv give us youur typical whitebred family. andy cherski is your "every guy."

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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 6th 2003, 4:05 pm

Brian could have had an erection when Sharon hugs him. It would have been a natural reaction. If I remember being 15 years old accurately, I would have had an erection in that situation. He might not have had one. It isn't announced. However, it makes Sharon's "believe it" line to Angela make more sense. Since he doesn't say he has one, I'm going to go with a theory that an erection is possible, natural, and could be implied.
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 » Mar 6th 2003, 4:08 pm

I'll add that both Sharon and Brian react like they have done something wrong when Rayanne interrupts them and asks if they are comparing instruments. "Comparing instruments" is a great line.
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 » Mar 6th 2003, 5:41 pm

tomspeed -
i TA that an erection would have been a natural response! i just was referencing "life of brian" because i think that line in his VO is so great. it's quite likely that he was somehow turned on by the hug (and also uncomfortable at the same time). brian seems like he comes from the kind of family that does not touch each other that often, so that hug with sharon probably took him off guard on several levels.
i think that they both acted as if they had done something wrong in part because rayanne KNOWS how to make people feel that way. in very different ways, brian and sharon both care a lot about what other people think.

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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 8th 2003, 12:43 am

Interesting sequence --

After Sharon hugs Brian in the band room, she tells him that she will see him on the bus. Brian talks with Rickie about it. Rickie tells Brian that Sharon might be leaving the jock phase and entering the sensitive guys phase. I'm sure Rickie just means to be polite, friendly, and encouraging, but he is also being deceptive. Of course, he might not know Sharon well enough to make an accurate assessment of the situation. If he only sees Brian view of things, he might easily say the wrong thing. Anyway, this sequence stood out for me as being a little odd.
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 » Mar 8th 2003, 12:52 am

I keep wondering how much food the Chases eat. They are always bringing in groceries. I know the show condences time, but they seem to go grocery shopping every other day. My mom went shopping maybe once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. Granted, she bought a lot of food since there were five kids in the family. But she didn't make as many trips.

Another note on food --

Graham makes a dessert for Camille, but there isn't any food in the house. Maybe I'll have to watch the episode again, but that sequence of events seems right to me. Maybe there is only a dessert in the refrigerator? Or there is just some food that no one wants to eat.
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 » Mar 8th 2003, 12:59 am

Patty's reaction to Graham's not wanting to be disturbed --

She really seems more angry than concerned when Danielle tells her that Graham asked not to be disturbed. It's almost like she's thinking, "What is my slacker husband doing now?" This kind of jumped out at me as being out of character for her. I know she has a angry streak, but her reaction seems to be way in the red here.
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) » Mar 8th 2003, 8:38 pm

TomSpeed wrote:I keep wondering how much food the Chases eat. They are always bringing in groceries. I know the show condences time, but they seem to go grocery shopping every other day. My mom went shopping maybe once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. Granted, she bought a lot of food since there were five kids in the family. But she didn't make as many trips.
I think that the frequency of grocery shopping depends on individual preferences - one woman I worked with went grocery shopping every night after work so that she could get fresh stuff for dinner. Other people prefer to go once a week and get everything they need for the entire week. Since Graham loves cooking so much, it wouldn't surprise me if he liked having certain things bought fresh every few days. Another option is that they are shopping for different stuff on different days - maybe there are doing actual grocery shopping on certain days and buying household supplies (paper towels, kitty litter, shampoo) on other days at discount stores (like Target, Walgreen's, etc). Or it's possible that they are very careful with their budget and do their grocery shopping at more than one store. I remember when money was really tight, my mom would go through the ads and make lists for two different grocery stores so that we could buy stuff wherever it was less expensive.
Graham makes a dessert for Camille, but there isn't any food in the house. Maybe I'll have to watch the episode again, but that sequence of events seems right to me. Maybe there is only a dessert in the refrigerator? Or there is just some food that no one wants to eat.
Danielle and Patty were referring to "like nothing edible" in the refrigerator, meaning there weren't any leftovers or food that was available for immediate consumption - they were probably seeing all the food components that don't add up to a meal, like condiments. Many of the ingredients for a lemon hazelnut torte would be in the pantry, not the refrigerator, so there IS food in the house but nothing that they could eat without actual cooking. Graham makes the dessert late at night while Patty is at the hospital with Camille, so no one would have seen it in the refrigerator. It looks like he left the entire thing at the hospital with Camille, which is why Patty wouldn't have seen even dessert in the refrigerator when she later says, "There's like nothing edible in here." They were probably looking at all the buttermilk that Graham bought a few days earlier :wink:
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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 8th 2003, 8:49 pm

Your theories about food in this episode make a great deal of sense, Candygirl. I know that I probably wouldn't feel like doing any actual cooking given the situation either. Of course, I don't do much cooking 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 nkatsa » Mar 23rd 2003, 12:51 am

Especially after reading the "Angela's World" essays and the take the author has on the significance of food on this show (especially when it comes to Graham, and the feeling of comfort and security that comes with food), to me this episode has so many added layers to it with the constant references back to food and hunger (great line, by the way: "I felt like a really shallow person, because I was... hungry." :lol: ), and how Graham wasn't providing the food. It's definitely an episode that I appreciate more and more with time as well.
I find it interesting how Angela is so hard on herself in her scrutiny but often lets other people off the hook. When she seeks out Jordan underneath the bleachers, she says, "Is this where you come to smoke?" and then voiceovers, "I'm always doing that - I'm always asking questions I already know the answers to," but then Jordan asks, "So are you crying or something?" when he can clearly see that she IS crying.
I loved this, but didn't see it as her being hard on herself, but this great little parallel about how underneath it all, Angela and Jordan might be quite similar. Jordan may very well be just as awkward and dorky as Angela sees herself beneath the surface.
we see Jordan look at her. He doesn't look at her the way he would look at a random person talking during a quiz - he looks up in concern with more than just passing curiousity, almost mirroring Graham's actions in the previous scene with Patty.
great observation. i loved that they included that moment. even though it was so small, it still really got to me, cuz it really seemed to show us that jordan really could have feelings for her... Also the way he kept watching her even after she had walked past him and looked away during her voiceover at the end.
At the hospital, Camille blurts out that she NEEDS Andy, unlike Patty's relationship with Graham. Hurt, Patty says, "What am I like?" The first thing I thought when I heard that was Angela asking Jordan, "How am I?"
Wow, great call on that. I can't believe that hadn't occurred to me before.

I completely agree about how amazing the performances were in this episode. There was something totally real and heartbreaking about the way that camille out of nowhere starts to panic a little bit, and the way she whispered "I need him, you know? I need him to live..." *sniff*
I bet you can actually die of embarrassment. I bet it's been medically proven.

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Post by Pouka » Oct 28th 2003, 7:07 pm

People here talk alot about food and how it has meaning in MSCL, well I have always been a little bothered about the pizza in Strangers in the House. If I remember correctly, Graham tells Danielle to order pizza, but doesn't give her any money to pay for it. This strikes me as being very neglectful and indifferent to the girls' and their needs. Then when they finally decide that Brian is paying for it, Patty comes in and says, " Get a large, I'm famished.". As she hands Angela the money, Angela makes an annoyed expression, almost an expression of " are you kidding me?". I have always wondered why she makes that face? My take on it is the notion that Patty thinks that a large pizza can actually feed the entire Chase clan, PLUS a starving Sharon and Brian. Call me obsessed, but I don't think a large pizza would have been enough for everyone. It's clear that Patty thinks Graham is going to eat also, ( get some of those little tomatoes that daddy likes). I don't know if this is why Angela makes her expression, but it certainly is clear to me that Patty Chase is a stingy person when it comes to providing food. Remember the brick of cheese? Anyhow, this pizza incident has always bugged me. Yeah, I have no life. :?

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Post by Nothingman » Oct 28th 2003, 7:45 pm

The whole point of Graham and Patty not giving them money for the pizza is to illustrate how in shock they are about Andy's heart attack. Also, at the mention of food they realise they are starving and haven't eaten because they haven't been thinking clearly. Then when it arrives, no one is hungry because the emotional turmoil has over ridden their desire for food. The pizza fiasco doesn't make sense if you are in a normal state of mind, but that's the point, no one is.
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Post by Hunee » Oct 29th 2003, 11:53 am

I love the part when Graham and Sharon come home for the first night and he is carrying groceries and the all say that there not hungry but when Angela doesnt respond she says in her VO that she felt like a really shallow person because she was hungry...

I dont know how food is even related to the show but it is obvious that it is used at almost every critical or emotional time in the show... I think that Graham told Danielle to order the pizza was because he needed a moment alone to take in everything that was happening... I dont think that he was trying to neglect them or anything it was just he needed space and then when Patty comes in and is trying to ask him about the account all he wanted was to be alone or maybe he just wanted patty to ask him whats bothering you which she clearly doesnt... I mean ultimately the show is about change and for Graham knowing that one of his closest friends could die at the same age he is he takes a step back and realizes that he does not want to die knowing that the only thing he ever did was work under patty... he wants to fulfill his dreams to and when patty finally gets it and says your fired I think that it shows a great deal of understanding but at the same time it was a decision that he should have made himself without talking about his feelings... with angela and sharon you can see right in the beginning of the episode she feels a great deal of pain for her and it becomes more evident when she is in her room and remembers when the were little... through out the episode you can tell that Angela really does feel sad for sharon but she is affraid to let sharon know because she is affriad she will push her away when ultimately thats all sharon wanted... despite them not being friends anymore sometimes the both need eachother so much it hurts and when Angela tells Sharon to grab her hand like she did when they were children I think it is trying to show that Angela did not forget there friendship either... BTW does anyone else but me want to take shanes drum sticks and shove them down his throat???
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