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, 2:38 pm

I'm going to double back and explore another interpretation of the Sharon/Kyle relationship. They might have started having sex around the time of the "Guns and Gossip" episode. However, clearly problems have developed in their relationship by the time of "Life of Brian." Kyle has already proven to be not an ideal boy friend in "Other People's Mothers." The shooting script for "Life of Brian" makes it clear that Kyle has developed a wandering eye toward women other than Sharon. So, it would be natural for Sharon and Kyle's lovemaking to cool a little bit. Their relationship is already on the rocks by this episode.
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 25th 2003, 2:40 pm

TomSpeed wrote:
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.
It isn't that these things haven't happened yet - simply that not all the facts have been revealed yet, but they HAVE happened at this point in the series. At the beginning of the next episode (Self Esteem), Sharon laments, "My biggest regret is breaking up with Kyle - like, before midterms!" The following episode (Pressure) is when Angela and Sharon have the sex talk. I can't believe that Sharon and Kyle had sex "like constantly" between the end of Life of Brian and the beginning of Self Esteem and then break up. Sharon is the kind of girl who wants sex to be with someone she loves, which is how she felt about Kyle prior to Life of Brian. By the dance, she is visibly annoyed with him and she is not the kind of person who has angry or grudging sex. This is what leads me to believe that Kyle and Sharon had sex prior to Life of Brian.

Sharon's poem may be an idealized description of sex, but she is still extremely defensive about it in the Substitute when the girls in the bathroom discuss how someone who wrote an anonymous basement after they "did it in the basement" has no self-esteem. When Rayanne admits that she sometimes feels numb, Sharon advises her that maybe she hasn't found the right person yet in a sympathetic way which implies that she (Sharon) has had non-numb (read: good) sex with someone who she cares about.

In Why Jordan Can't Read, Rayanne point blank asks Sharon if she has had sex with Kyle. Sharon replies, "That is so none of your business." I'll tell you from a girl's point of view, that is a YES. Girls who aren't having sex simply reply NO. Any other answer is a yes, especially in high school when you live at home and are fearful of your parents finding out that you have a sex life. Sharon continues with her ambiguous answer by adding, "Okay, look. I made a solemn promise to myself, that I would not go all the way until I was ready. And I'm, like, sticking to that." In girl world, that's a rationalizing "yes." She later tells Angela, "Look, I told Kyle I wanted to wait until I was ready. And then one night, I totally was." Again, I can't imagine that happening any time after the World Happiness Dance but before Self Esteem.

Sharon noticing that Kyle is looking at other girls (like Holly Galanoy) is not necessarily an indication that he wants to have sex with them solely because he isn't have sex with Sharon. Many high school guys just look at girls with lust simply because the girls are there, and sure they think about having sex with other girls because they are 15 and full of hormones, whether or not they are having sex with someone else.
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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 3:03 pm

I think it would be natural for Kyle to look at other women. It also would be natural for Sharon to get bent out of shape about it. Of course, this isn't the only thing wrong with their relationship. Leaving Sharon in the lurch when her father was in the hospital wasn't a way for Kyle to earn brownie points. Also, his reluctance to ask Sharon to her own dance speaks volumes. Plus, I know this has been covered in another post, but does Kyle seem to pay too much attention to Rickie when he is dancing with Delia. I'm going to jump to the future and mention his fascination with a shirtless Brad Pitt. I'm going to jump to all kind of conclusions and echo Rayanne, "I rest my case." I am evil. :twisted:
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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, 3:11 pm

TomSpeed wrote: his fascination with a shirtless Brad Pitt.
Hahaha!

:lol:

I agree that Kyle has proven himself to be somewhat less than the nice guy that he was in the Zit. As clumsy as his little speech was in the band room, it was sincere so I had high hopes for him. Between abandoning Sharon when her dad was in the hospital and not bothering to ask her to the dance, he is not worthy of her!
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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 3:31 pm

starbug wrote:
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.

:turn-l:
I really can't argue with your points. It was hard enough for me to ask girls out when I was in high school. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be for me to ask out boys who might or might not be gay. Plus, even though Rickie knows he is attracted to men, he probably hasn't intellectually decided and/or accepted that he's gay at this point. He is probably the most alone person of the group of friends.
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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 25th 2003, 4:37 pm

RICKIE AND DELIA DANCING

i love this scene and i agree that for a brief moment, rickie is in his element. we might argue that this makes rickie stereotypically gay, but i am not so sure.... i mean, yeah, lots of gay guys go to clubs and are good dancers and the average person ASSUMES that most gay guys are like that, but, there is also another POV to examine. rickie has a hard time expressing himself in language. he is often quiet when others speak, or repeats what others have said. several of us have brought up the idea of rickie's "voice" not being fully developed as the show begins, and that he is slowly finding his voice as the show progresses. often when a person is unable to express him or herself verbally, s/he finds other ways of doing so. he feels marginalized by his "alternative" sexuality and is not always given the right or the opportunity to verbalize what he is going through.
so, rickie is a loud dresser, he wears makeup, he dances... these things might make him stereotypically gay, but maybe they are also the only ways in which he feels comfortable being himself. he probably edits his way of speaking and verbally expressing himself in front of his family and his peers.
at the dance, he already feels like he has made a fool of himself. he's there with corey but corey is expecting rayanne. he is told by brian to steer clear of the oh-so-romantic date that he's having with angela, and his usual partner in crime (rayanne) is nowhere to be found. i think rickie dances to out of frustration and the need to express himself. when someone makes sexual moves in a dance, they are not always directed AT anyone. though he is dancing with delia and thus "being sexual" with her, i'd argue that he is just expressing himself as a sexual, physical being. hell, i am a straight female and i dance with gay men and or straight women all the time. it doesn't mean we are going to have sex later!
and about delia - so far in the show she has appeared as a sweet, practical girl who seems unsure of herself but also willing to assert herself when necessary. showing her here with rickie really adds to her character. she does not appear timid or plain (like cheap wallpaper) at all.

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Post by likelife » Mar 25th 2003, 4:47 pm

candygirl -
i totally agree with what you've said so far about sharon and kyle's sex life. the conversation that sharon has in the bathroom with rayanne about finding the right person clearly implies to me that sharon and kyle have done the deed. also, sharon is SO the sort of girl for whom "that is NONE of your business!" means yes.
whatever their problems are by the life of brian, they probably have to do with the fact that the ONLY intimacy they share is sexual intimacy. kyle really does not seem to knwo what sharon needs or wants in a companion. we could also say that sharon expects too much from a 15 yr old boy, but i'm afraid young women often expect too much from guys their own age.

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Post by likelife » Mar 25th 2003, 4:54 pm

ANGELA INVITES HERSELF TO THE DANCE

i think that on a conscious level, angela has no idea what she's doing when she approaches brian about a ride to the dance. sure, a small part of her is jealous because she's not getting the usual attention from brian, but it's not something she's conscious of. also, even if angela DOES expect that attention from brian, it does not mean that she wants him to be her boyfriend.
angela is in a desperate situation (everything seems so desparate at 15). she has finally decided to go this "silly" world happiness dance, and now she cannot find a way to get there. her parents might be the type of parents who do not like to do all of the driving and schlepping around. my mom certainly would not have driven me to and from a dance unless shehad to. the only questionable thing about this desperation is that SOMETIMES characters seem to need rides in this show, while other times they can walk or take the bus. just how far apart is everything? what time of night is too late to be out alone?
so angela decides that brian is her best bet, for once he has someone else to be obsessed with, so perhaps in angela's mind this is the ideal time to ask him -- no chance of the asking as being interpreted as a date (or so she assumes)! she sees asking brian as a safe and easy way to get to the dance. maybe she hopes that jordan will be there and drive her home, or that she'll meet up with other people she knows.

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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 4:55 pm

likelife wrote:and about delia - so far in the show she has appeared as a sweet, practical girl who seems unsure of herself but also willing to assert herself when necessary. showing her here with rickie really adds to her character. she does not appear timid or plain (like cheap wallpaper) at all.
I don't think Brian necessarily means to downgrade Delia. However, given his longing for Angela, Delia doesn't stand a chance when Angela expresses the slightest bit of interest in Brian. Delia seems like cheap wallpaper in a way that she seems accessible to Brian. He can actually ask her out after overcoming his initial fear of rejection. He overcomes his fear with Delia's help. The cost of making Delia accessible seems lower to him than making Angela accessible. The fact that Brian doesn't know Delia as well as he knows Angela works in Delia's favor. I think Angela's initial abrupt dismissal of Brian's idea of them dancing together and Brian's witness of Angela's intimate encounter with Jordan outside of the gym probably makes him regret his decision to toss Delia aside. Even Angela's suggestion that they dance at the end of the episode doesn't do away with his regret. He punishes himself for missing the opportunity to be with Delia. He punishes Angela for liking Jordan. He makes the decision that he and probably Angela, too, won't have any further fun at the dance. I think Delia and Brian would have gotten along alright. Except, Angela could easily take him away at least for awhile.
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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 25th 2003, 4:58 pm

and to continue...
brian also sees angela inviting herself as a desperate situation. he has finally settled for the attainable, and suddenly he has a fighting chance at the seemingly UNattainable. i can understand that his crush on angela clouds his better judgement, and yet i think that what brian does to delia in this episode is really awful. he doesn't even think about the fact that delia may still show up at the dance, or that angela will realize what's up. not that any of the guys in the show are particularly emotionally mature, but i'd say that this is one of his low points.
tomspeed, i know you are an ardent brian fan; please do not assume that i have no sympathy for the guy. i do, i just do not think he handles this situation well.

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 25th 2003, 5:06 pm

starbug wrote: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.
I agree that if the writers had really wanted to make Rickie the stereotypical gay guy (see Jack on Will & Grace), they would have given him different ways to say things, react to certain situations. His mannerisms and speech patterns do not scream "GAY GAY GAY" but "nice guy."

As far as his clothes are concerned, they are quite flamboyant but it's the combination of clothing rather than the individual pieces. If you remember that they began filming the pilot in March 1993, bright colors were in - the faded plaid of grunge was not the only available palette at the time. Remember Cross Colours and the Kid n Play fades? Rickie is still pretty fashionable when you remember the bright button down shirts that boys (and girls) used to wear. I know it kind of all blends together in my memory, but when I think of where I was and what I was wearing in 1993-1994 it seems right that Rickie was wearing purple vests and royal blue blazers. His outfits would have fit in with the urban LA vibe (where I lived at the time) without being flamingly gay.

I love Rickie's explanation to Brian about eyeliner and the Egyptians, but when you remember that Kurt Cobain wore eyeliner too (as does Jared Leto sometimes does when he performs with his band 30 Seconds to Mars), it isn't blatantly gay either.

One of the many great things about this show is that everyone is complex rather than a cardboard stereotype. Rickie is a nice guy who happens to be gay, not a played for laughs, hysterical drama queen type of character. Kudos to the writers and directors (and of course Wilson Cruz) for portraying Rickie so well.
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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 25th 2003, 8:17 pm

likelife wrote:and to continue...
brian also sees angela inviting herself as a desperate situation. he has finally settled for the attainable, and suddenly he has a fighting chance at the seemingly UNattainable. i can understand that his crush on angela clouds his better judgement, and yet i think that what brian does to delia in this episode is really awful. he doesn't even think about the fact that delia may still show up at the dance, or that angela will realize what's up. not that any of the guys in the show are particularly emotionally mature, but i'd say that this is one of his low points.
tomspeed, i know you are an ardent brian fan; please do not assume that i have no sympathy for the guy. i do, i just do not think he handles this situation well.
I agree that Brian should probably say no when Angela asks if she can tag along with Delia and him to the dance. That would be the classy thing to do, given how things stand. He invests a great deal of his personal psychological resources in asking Delia to go out with him. It's a triumph for him, which he throws away. However, he cannot overcome his feelings for Angela. They get the better of him.

Even though he chooses to make a play for Angela, he takes it upon himself to deal with Delia in person. It would have been much easier for him to call her on the telephone or simply stand her up on the night of the dance.

I'm not really able to defend his actions. But I can understand his actions. I guess the reason why I provide such insight into Brian's character is that I walked in his shoes as a teenager in high school. I wasn't a terrible young man. But I could be a confused and sometimes thoughtless young man, especially when women were involved.

Put in his situation at his age, would I have done the right thing and gone to the dance with Delia because I asked her first? I'd like to say so. But I don't know so. Some women, like Angela, and how men feel about them can make doing the right things so difficult.
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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* » Mar 26th 2003, 4:13 am

Another thing to remember is that Brian just can't bring himself to say no to Angela. He just can't. Has he at all up to this point in the series? I don't think so. I'm sure candygirl will correct me if I'm wrong :wink: . And Angela knows Brian won't say no to her. I mean, yes, Brian does say no when Angela asks him to dance at the end of the episode, but I think that's a little different. It's not a favor. I can't believe Angela even asked him that. In my opinion that was really thoughtless of her to ask. Brian nailed it when he said, in VO, "She called me heartless? That's great. How much more ironic can you get without puking." Or something like that. Also, maybe Brian knows that if it had been the three of them - Brian, Delia, and Angela - he would have paid way more attention to Angela, or Delia would have seen the obviously very strong attraction to Angela, therefore forcing Delia into the third wheel position instead of Angela.
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Post by SanDeE* » Mar 26th 2003, 4:23 am

The music at the end of the episode at the dance:
"You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't."

Could this apply to Brian's situation? Angela asks him for a ride, he says yes, but then has to hurt Delia and she then dislikes him, which is what happened. In this outcome, he's damned because Delia now dislikes him. He's lost not only a potential romantic partner, but also a potential friend.

Another outcome is this: Angela asks him for the ride. He says no, and goes to the dance with Delia. He probably would have had a good time with Delia, but the fact remains that Angela asked him for the ride, meaning they would have spent some time together. He would have been thinking about Angela the whole night, not able to fully enjoy his time with Delia. He's damned because he missed a chance to spend time with Angela, especially when she was asking for it.
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Post by shorty » Mar 26th 2003, 10:08 am

At the very beginning of this discussion, CANDYGIRL commented on the pictures the characters have on the inside of their lockers, and said that on the inside of Rickie's locker, she'd only seen a picture of someone with funny eyes, but when I watched WHY JORDAN CAN'T READ again, I noticed a picture of Michael Jackson when he opens his locker.
Funnily enough, I had always imagined him to be a Micheal Jackson fan for some reason, but after watching LIFE OF BRIAN, it became clear to me that they do have a lot in common.
First of all, Rickie's eclectic dress sense is sometimes quite similar to MJ, especially in GUNS AND GOSSIP when his socks show underneath his trousers.
Secondly, they are both sexually confused; Rickie with his gay issues and Michael Jackson possibly being Asexual.
And thirdly, both feel they can express themselves freely through dance; in the 80's, MJ strarted using dance as a form of sexual expression and I think that's what Rickie was doing in LOB. (Just a little personal observation!)

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