Discussion for Episode 11: Life of Brian

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 TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 12:33 am

Rickie's Dancing

I'm not sure if Rickie's dancing is out of synch, but it does seem out of place. It seems to be too enthusiastic and too over the top. Only minutes beforehand he seemed to be in desperate straights over his loneliness. Now he's dancing like crazy. Also, he's dancing by himself until he starts to drag Delia along. It almost seems like the writers decided to add the dance just to have him dance. It doesn't seem to fit his character. Also, it seems like it is reinforcing a stereotype -- Rickie's gay so he must dance really well. I know this take might seem harsh, but that's how I see it. Rickie's dancing seems gratuitous and cheap.
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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 Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 25th 2003, 12:40 am

TomSpeed wrote:I liked the additional interplay between Sharon and Kyle in the shooting script. The problems in their relationship are more clearly defined. It seems like Kyle and Sharon share a problem that Angela and Jordan will have later on -- they aren't having sex.
I disagree - but I have to draw on a future episode as evidence (breaking the rule - eek!). Angela and Sharon have the following conversation in Pressure:
Angela : So, y - you and Kyle broke up? I mean, was there like, a reason?

Sharon : I guess -- I'd have to say -- it was my beliefs. I didn't feel -- like I should -- give up my beliefs. Even, even for Kyle.

Angela : [voiceover] So Sharon had beliefs. Sharon had decided to stay a virgin.

Angela : So how do you, like -- I mean, you just -- *told* him that you
didn't -- wanna -- you know, like -- have, have, um, sex with him, no matter how much he was like expecting it?

Sharon : Oh, no. Oh, no, no. We -- we had sex. I'm saying I had a belief that he was being a butthead, which was true.

Angela : You had, like, intercourse?

Sharon : Like, constantly.
Unlike Rayanne, who would brag about having sex, Sharon is quite the opposite. As perky as she is, she is not the kind of girl who would go around telling everyone that she had sex with Kyle. I think the reason that she so readily admits it to Angela is because, despite their relationship difficulties, they have a familiarity and honesty.

Also remember Sharon's poem in the Substitute - "my juicy sweetness" and "we become one being."
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 25th 2003, 12:47 am

TomSpeed wrote:We've already seen that Angela has chosen not to attend the school's football games. Attending a football game is an elective choice. However, by choosing not to attend them, Angela wonders if she is missing out on something.
I think that rather than making an active choice not to attend football games (or at the very least the big away games :D ), Angela hasn't really thought about them, and her query to Rayanne, "Should we be attending those things?" in the Zit results in an emphaticly negative, "Please grip yourself." Angela is still enraptured by Rayanne's non-mainstream alternative lifestyle - which is so different from the kinds of things that Angela did with Sharon (e.g. Rayanne would never join yearbook) - that she is still behaving within the parameters set forth by Rayanne.

Despite her musing in the Pilot, "Like cheerleaders - can't people just cheer on their own? Like, to themselves?" I can picture Angela getting caught up in the moment at a football game, especially if she went with someone like Rickie or Sharon.

She definitely wonders what she is missing out on - in the pilot, she wondered what she was missing out on by being friends with Sharon, and her burgeoning friendship with Rayanne confirmed that there were new and different things to do. Now that she is friends with Rayanne and has been playing by Rayanne's rules, she is wondering what she misses out on by not doing some of the typical high school stuff - like attending dances (and football games!).
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 25th 2003, 1:09 am

TomSpeed wrote:I'm not sure if Rickie's dancing is out of synch, but it does seem out of place. It seems to be too enthusiastic and too over the top. Only minutes beforehand he seemed to be in desperate straights over his loneliness. Now he's dancing like crazy. Also, he's dancing by himself until he starts to drag Delia along. It almost seems like the writers decided to add the dance just to have him dance. It doesn't seem to fit his character. Also, it seems like it is reinforcing a stereotype -- Rickie's gay so he must dance really well. I know this take might seem harsh, but that's how I see it. Rickie's dancing seems gratuitous and cheap.
I didn't see it as Rickie dragging Delia along - he asked her to dance and they initially danced tentatively and self-consciously. When Rickie began to really dance, he was expressing himself in a way that he couldn't do in words. He let go of his fear and was himself. The fact that Delia was able to do the same illustrates that she was capable of dancing just as well, but was afraid to do so until Rickie broke out of his shell first. This is a great analogy for Rickie being himself - remember high school dances? At the casual dances in the gym, people were so busy watching everyone else. At formal dances, people were busy not mussing their expensive dresses and tuxedos. Dance is a form of expression, a way to show personality and be free. Anyone who has taken a formal dance class will tell you how intimidating it is to see yourself doing things in the mirror, moving your body in a way that looks nothing like what the teacher is doing, afraid that everyone else sees how stupid you look when in fact, everyone else is just as self conscious and so busy worrying about how stupid THEY look to see how stupid YOU look :wink: The fact that Rickie lets loose after verbalizing how he doesn't fit is another step in Rickie's journey to accepting himself and loving himself instead of trying to hide who he is. Considering how we have seen Rickie harassed at school by other guys, his dancing is an extraordinary (albeit unspoken) coming out to the student body. I didn't see it as gratuitious - it's not like he stripped down to his banana hammock and began cage dancing. Like I said, the fact that Delia kept up with him every step of the way shows that we are all capable of being ourselves (and having a lot of fun!) if we let go of our fears - especially the one that cares what other people think of us.
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Post by Nostradamus » Mar 25th 2003, 1:22 am

TomSpeed wrote:Rickie's Dancing

I'm not sure if Rickie's dancing is out of synch, but it does seem out of place. It seems to be too enthusiastic and too over the top. Only minutes beforehand he seemed to be in desperate straights over his loneliness. Now he's dancing like crazy. Also, he's dancing by himself until he starts to drag Delia along. It almost seems like the writers decided to add the dance just to have him dance. It doesn't seem to fit his character. Also, it seems like it is reinforcing a stereotype -- Rickie's gay so he must dance really well. I know this take might seem harsh, but that's how I see it. Rickie's dancing seems gratuitous and cheap.
I drew the opposite conclusions. Throughout this episode, and for most of the series, Rickie struggles to fit in and find his place, but here he is finally, if briefly, in his element. Most of the Liberty kids know about as many dance moves as Patty and Graham did in "Dancing in the Dark", while Rickie moves with passion, style and grace. Delia is initially timid and hesitant, but he knows how to put her at ease and she is quickly swept up in his energy. For once he is showing himself to the "world" and recieves praise for it, rather than the usual reaction of insults and physical violence. His joy is likely the same as that which Brian feels when he aces a test, or when Graham cooks a terrific meal.

I agree that Rickie does seem stereotypical on the surface, particularly in the early episodes when his role was limited, but I think it is a testament to both the writers and Wilson Cruz that they could create such a three-dimensional character in spite of such cliches. Anyone else would look a fool in that outfit; Rickie pulls it off with class!
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 25th 2003, 1:36 am

Nostradamus wrote:His joy is likely the same as that which Brian feels when he aces a test, or when Graham cooks a terrific meal.
Great analogy!
Anyone else would look a fool in that outfit; Rickie pulls it off with class!
Amen to that :D
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Post by starbug » Mar 25th 2003, 6:48 am

I really love the Rickie-Delia dancing scene and I agree with what Candygirl and Nostradamus have said about him finally finding his place, where he fits (albeit briefly). He's happy - you can see it in his face. You can see it in hers: they've forgotten about their various sufferings of rejection (in Rickie's case, constant, in Delia's, Brian and his insensitivity) and have really let it go.

I actually think that Rickie is very slightly stereotypically gay - but I think it's more subtle than it certainly could have been. Rickie's dress is typically early 90s gay - he definitely has that sort of toned down Versace look (as far as I understand it, a favourite on the gay scene then and now). He's not averse to makeup. He's sensitive, but not overly so - and it's linked with his religion which means it could be either that he's stereotypically gay, or it could be that he's religious; we don't know. either way, it isn't blatant. He's not, on the other hand, melodramatic (this is a quality that a few of my gay friends have in droves) or political. Angela is both of these things (IMHO) and I think it's a nice example of how characters are rounded in MSCL and not stereotyped in the usual way.

This is one of my favourite scenes in MSCL - I love to watch it for both the fact that it's fast, exciting and I get to see both of them looking so happy.

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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 9:18 am

candygirl wrote:
TomSpeed wrote:I liked the additional interplay between Sharon and Kyle in the shooting script. The problems in their relationship are more clearly defined. It seems like Kyle and Sharon share a problem that Angela and Jordan will have later on -- they aren't having sex.
I disagree - but I have to draw on a future episode as evidence (breaking the rule - eek!). Angela and Sharon have the following conversation in Pressure:
Angela : So, y - you and Kyle broke up? I mean, was there like, a reason?

Sharon : I guess -- I'd have to say -- it was my beliefs. I didn't feel -- like I should -- give up my beliefs. Even, even for Kyle.

Angela : [voiceover] So Sharon had beliefs. Sharon had decided to stay a virgin.

Angela : So how do you, like -- I mean, you just -- *told* him that you
didn't -- wanna -- you know, like -- have, have, um, sex with him, no matter how much he was like expecting it?

Sharon : Oh, no. Oh, no, no. We -- we had sex. I'm saying I had a belief that he was being a butthead, which was true.

Angela : You had, like, intercourse?

Sharon : Like, constantly.
Unlike Rayanne, who would brag about having sex, Sharon is quite the opposite. As perky as she is, she is not the kind of girl who would go around telling everyone that she had sex with Kyle. I think the reason that she so readily admits it to Angela is because, despite their relationship difficulties, they have a familiarity and honesty.

Also remember Sharon's poem in the Substitute - "my juicy sweetness" and "we become one being."
There is a problem with referring to future episodes -- these things haven't happened yet. We don't know when Sharon and Kyle start having sex. She makes it a point to tell Angela that she had been resistant to Kyle's urging to have sex. At some point, she decides she is ready. I'm sure her initial resistance caused some tension with Kyle. Plus, I was writing about the shooting script for this episode. Sharon notices the attention Kyle pays to other girls. The subtext is that Kyle wants to have sex with them and that he is not having sex with Sharon. Finally, Sharon could have been figurative and literary in her poem. Her poem seems like an idealized view of sex. Or they could not have actually had intercourse. Of course, they eventually have intercourse, but it is unclear when they actually consummate their relationship.
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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 TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 11:03 am

I understand your points about Rickie's dancing. However, his dancing seems aggressive and sexually suggestive. Delia clearly is initially taken by surprise. And he does get her going. They are dancing separately at the beginning. I get the impression that their dance starts out more about Rickie than Rickie dancing with Delia. Rickie and Delia start to dance together later on during the song. The dance seems fake. It might seem less contrived if the other dancers danced comparatively well. Also, the dance does not seem to have a sufficient foundation in the plot.

As far as having Rickie be in his element, it would have made more sense for Rickie to ask Corey to dance. This action would seem to naturally flow in terms of plot. They seem to get along well until Corey asks Rickie why Rayanne hasn't arrived yet. Corey, since he's not gay, would turn Rickie down. It can be argued that Rickie is not ready to take such a step, but when will he be ready? Additionally, one can argue that Rickie's way of dancing is an attempt to come out to the school, but that argument assumes that to dance as Rickie does means that the boy or man must be gay. I'm not sure if the writers intend to employ a double standard. It's OK for Rickie to ask a girl to dance but he can't ask a boy. Additionally, one doesn't need to be gay to dance as Rickie does, but by focusing almost exclusively on Rickie, it seems that we are meant to get that impression.

Of course, I could be reading too much into something that isn't really there.
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 25th 2003, 12:14 pm

candygirl wrote:Sharon is so pushy when doing her little Brian/Delia matchmaking. "Ask her to the dance!" She is so overly enthusiastic when she says that - ugh!
Sharon is being pushy when she encourages Brian to ask Delia to the dance. However, I think she is being pushy in a good way. Angela, Sharon, and Brian have been friends for a long time. Sharon is probably looking out for Brian. She knows how much Brian likes Angela. So, she has the opportunity to do something nice for him. Also, she is probably trying to makes amends for how she treated Brian during the "Other People's Mothers" episode. Brian is so entranced by Angela, he probably wouldn't notice if another girl liked him unless she hits him on the head. so, for Brian's own good, Sharon is being manipulative.
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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 starbug » Mar 25th 2003, 12:17 pm

TomSpeed wrote: As far as having Rickie be in his element, it would have made more sense for Rickie to ask Corey to dance. This action would seem to naturally flow in terms of plot.
I disagree. I think the whole point of this is to show how uncomforatble Rickie is in his normal life. Cory, and dealing with his feelings for him, represent one of the hurdles Rickie has to jump in life; of the reason he doesn't belong. All of my gay friends have been out (I mean dated) before they acknowledged to themselves that they were gay, let alone to anyone else. It's to do with denying it initially, and then coming to terms with it. Rickie has almost admitted to himself that he's gay; he doesn't refute it when Rayanne hints at it or he and Angela are talking about he and Cory. Yet it is a huge jump to approach someone who you aren't sure is gay or not. Try to imagine the rejection he would feel when Cory turned him down. Not only have you made the mistake of thinking that person liked you and would accept, but you've made this huge error about their sexuality. I know that misinterpreting someone's sexuality and having that publicly aired is something my gay friends fear (not wishing to speak for all gay people at all or suggest they all feel the same but it's common among my friends).
TomSpeed wrote: when will he be ready?
I think he'll be ready when he's completely comfortable with himself, and accepted. Now I know I'm about to break the 'no future episodes' rule, but when he's taken in and accepted by Mr. Katimski, it doesn't take long for Rickie to admit openly for the first time that he is gay. I think that then it's clear Rickie has come to terms with it and he might have the confidence to try to approach someone. Til then, I don't think so.

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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 12:27 pm

candygirl wrote: Brian asks Graham if he should wait until the really great wallpaper is cheaper. I realize that is using an analogy, but under what circumstances does Brian think that Angela will be "cheaper" or somewhere in his "price range"?
I've thought about the question of when Angela will be in Brian's price range as well. Brian, in his analytical way, has probaly determined that Angela might become available to him after she gets over Jordan. He probably sees that there is little between Jordan and Angela on which they can build a true relationship. However, how long is he willing to wait for the shoe to drop? It seems like he is willing to wait a long time. He's blinded by his desire for Angela. On some level, he might even fear that she might never become available to him, but he's not ready to drop his dream.
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 » Mar 25th 2003, 12:34 pm

TomSpeed wrote:
candygirl wrote: Brian asks Graham if he should wait until the really great wallpaper is cheaper. I realize that is using an analogy, but under what circumstances does Brian think that Angela will be "cheaper" or somewhere in his "price range"?
I've thought about the question of when Angela will be in Brian's price range as well. Brian, in his analytical way, has probaly determined that Angela might become available to him after she gets over Jordan. He probably sees that there is little between Jordan and Angela on which they can build a true relationship. However, how long is he willing to wait for the shoe to drop? It seems like he is willing to wait a long time. He's blinded by his desire for Angela. On some level, he might even fear that she might never become available to him, but he's not ready to drop his dream.
This is an interesting point, and I'd given it a little thought before. I agree with TomSpeed - I think he lives in hope that Angela will give up on Jordan at which point he'll be able to assert himself (or will he? Not seen evidence of Brian's assertiveness before...). I don't think he means 'cheaper' in a slutty sense (although at one point I did make this connection I have talked myself out of it); more that she'll be within his sights as she'll be open to other people besides Jordan.

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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 1:02 pm

candygirl wrote: One of the great aspects of this episode is how we see that Brian is similar to Angela in many ways, in thought and action. When he prepares to ask Delia to the dance ("I have to ask Delia Fisher to the dance - on the count of three... SPEAK!"), he mirrors Angela preparing to talk to Jordan in Why Jordan Can't Read ("Hi. Oh, hi."). Brian's assessment of Angela's "babbling" and "blathering" when she asks for a ride to the dance is even funnier considering the way he babbled and blathered only minutes before when asking Delia to the dance. Later Brian thinks, "Okay, this is the simplest thing in the world. People do it every day. Just -- start a conversation," which echoes Angela in Why Jordan Can't Read: "Huge events take place on this earth every day. Earthquakes, hurricanes. Even glaciers move. So, why couldn't he just look at me?"
Yes. Yes. Angela and Brian are alike in many ways. This isn't unusual because they spent a great deal of time with one another when they were growing up. Graham and Patty probably had a great deal of influence on Brian as well as Angela. Brian and Angela both have an inability to communicate. Brian seems to have a harder time with things. However, given his relationship with his parents, the greater severity of his problem isn't surprising.
Last edited by TomSpeed on Mar 25th 2003, 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 25th 2003, 1:31 pm

Both Angela and Brian give each other conflicting signals. Angela tells Brian it's great that he asked Delia to the dance. But she asks to tag along. I think the same reasoning would apply in Brian's situation that applied in Rickie's situation. Brian and Delia are clearly going on a date. The polite thing for Angela to do would be not to ask to accompany Brian and Delia to the dance. She could ask Patty or Graham to take her. Transportation isn't the only motivation. She subconsciously wants to attend the dance with Brian. I'll reference the look she gives Brian and Delia when she passes them while they are looking through the microscope. Brian hears what he wants to hear -- Angela wants to go to the dance with him. I love the way they stand apart from each other in this scene. It echoes the "Pilot" episode. They are standing close and apart from each other at the same time. Brian, in a typical Brian way, let's his imagination carry him away. He believes that the dance will be his chance to be on a date with Angela. I don't like what he does to Delia, but his actions are understandable. So, Brian is telling Angela that she can tag along, but he wants more than that. Angela, who has been told how Brian feels about her by Sharon, should at least have some inkling of how her asking to tag along with Brian and Delia could be misconstrued by Brian. So, it seems natural for her to tell him that what happened at the dance was her fault. Of course, the blame also lies with Brian. I think Angela wants to dance with Brian in the last scene. Brian rejects her to punish her and himself. Sorry if I repeated anything from my previous posts. I just wanted to answer some questions others and I posed.
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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