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 Nothingman » Aug 25th 2003, 10:45 am

Angela asking Brian to dance…

I believe Brian refuses the dance for three reasons. First, he has this fantasy of dancing with her, but that moment isn’t anything like it. He knows that it won’t be how he wants it to be so why bother. Which leads me to the second reason he refuses. He’s decided he’s tortured himself enough about the dance. He’s realized by this point that the night is not going to work out how he wanted it too, and is tired of trying to implement his fantasy on reality. And finally, in some small way he enjoys not giving Angela what she wants, since she has been doing the same to him all night. The shoe is on the other foot for once, and he wants her to feel as unsatisfied with the evening as he is. Spite is an interesting reaction, plus it’s nice to know you’re not the only one who’s disappointed.

I think every dance I ever went to turned out a bit like this. “But you come because you think, you know, maybe something cool will happen. 'Cause what if something did, happen, and you missed it?” Besides, you know that your life is never going to go anywhere if you don’t get out there and take some chances and at least put yourself in a position to succeed. So, I’d go, and torture myself. Part of me is glad that part of my life is over, and part of me is sad that uncertainty and emotional roller coaster has grown more subdued.
"To come to your senses, you must first go out of your mind." - Alan Watts


Post by Guest » Aug 27th 2003, 12:11 pm

Meanwhile, Angela
steals glances at Jordan who stands with a HOLLY GALANOY (previously known
as “a Babe”). Angela looks back at Rickie, catches him looking at Corey.

ANGELA: Rayanne’s right.

RICKIE: About what?

ANGELA: About Corey. That you should ask him to the dance.

RICKIE: She told you!

ANGELA: It’s okay. I understand.

RICKIE: No you don’t. Understand. You don’t understand because... you
don’t. You couldn’t.

Jordan walks off with the babe. Angela watches them

You see this thing really buggs me.This is the quote from the original shooting script.According to this Jordan was flirting with this babe and he walks off with her( there's a pretty good chance he did her in his Plymouth).And in "Self esteem" he is making out with Angela in the boiler room.That's only few days after he was practically screwing everything with a skirt.So what I really want to know is - when did the change happen?I mean you people always say how Jordan had feelings for Angela but he was to afraid to admit it or whatever but people don't change over night,you know?
I really can't figure out why is Angela so in love with him even though he's such a sleeze.I understand why she was obsessed with him before she even talked to him.She had her little ideal image of him in her head and she played it over and over again.But by now she should really know better.Jordan constatly acts inconsistently with her perfect fantasy that she created in her mind.So one should expect that Jordan's awful behaviour would encourage her to either "get over him" or to replace "the Jordan Catalano fantasy" with another obsession.A lot of you might disagree but her feelings for him DO NOT run very deep and more importantly they are not based on a real foundation.And that's why I think that there's no way it could work between them.


Angela and Brian

Post by _MackTuesday_ » Aug 31st 2003, 12:04 am

Hi, I'm new here. I've been borrowing my neighbor's MSCL DVDs. Up until this point I had only ever seen the pilot of the show. I just finished #4, which ends with the Christmas episode.

I have opinions about The Life of Brian, but first let me say that I am absolutely amazed by how this show affects me. It has a little to do with the fact that I've watched about 15 episodes in three days. But I wouldn't go to the trouble if the show wasn't so gut wrenching!

And I thought I was over high school! I'm a 29 year old man -- or at least I thought of myself as a man until recently -- and this show about adolescence has me completely absorbed. I didn't even go to my 10 year high school reunion. I don't know why I care so much what happens to these characters, but I really do.

Now about this episode: I don't have anything new to say about it except how I reacted to it emotionally. The last scene was *so* *depressing*! It was so real! So subtle! When Angela finally asks Brian to dance, I think maybe, finally, there will be some real warmth between them. Maybe now that moment will happen that gives you some hope that someday in the far future they'll get together. And then Brian says "Not with you..." What a disappointment! But of course that's what he had to say. It's just that every other TV show I've seen wouldn't dare do something so fatally realistic. Even ER, which showed us Dr. Greene's torturous existence and eventual gruesome demise, somehow lacked some sincerity in its presentation. My previous experience with television had me primed for a happier, or at least more surrealistic, outcome.

Sigh. I need to get a life.

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Post by Hunee » Oct 22nd 2003, 10:31 pm

I love the fact that Angela and Rickie have the kind of relationship where when they both feel really down they both in a way can help eachother feel better... life of brian was not one of my favorite episodes but just getting the satistaction of seeing Jordan tell angela he doesnt believe in making plans and whatever happens happens and then he is at the dance shows that he was there only because she was even though he did not talk to her...
so make the best of this test, and dont ask why
its not a question, but a lesson learned in time its something unpredictable, but in the end is right i hope you had the time of your life

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Post by Jody Barsch* » Nov 24th 2003, 2:47 am

A long while ago on a chat thread (not actually on “Life of Brian” if I recall), someone that “Life of Brian” was not anything to “write home about,” I disagree.

“Life of Brian” is one of the best episodes of the series. Besides being named after one of the greatest movies, the episode is excellent in so many ways. It is not necessarily my favorite episode to watch, but I would argue that it is one of the few, or only of the 19 that stands on its own -- meaning that people who had never seen the show, do not know the characters could watch this one episode and understand the series. “Life of Brian” is maybe the one episode that could stand on its own to other outside audiences.
For one, it is the first episode that there is another character doing the voiceover .

Jordan’s question “Why are you like this” sounds throughout the entire episode: it is the center of Graham and Patty’s struggle for the episode, possibly the series, it is the question Rickie has to face within himself, it also resonates with Brian and Angela. Jordan, however, walks away without hoping for an answer, without explaining the question, suggesting that we are who we are, and it can’t be explained or fixed. Brian can’t help liking Angela, she can’t help liking Jordan, cooking is just this thing Graham can do, Rickie is gay, and these are things that they are all going to learn how to accept, or live with, or incorporate. Jordan’s question really remains significant throughout the remainder of the series, its significance is made clear in the following episode when Angela turns Jordan’ question around on him.

The scene between Rickie and Angela outside the dance marks his recognition that he must embark on his odyssey of self-discovery that comes full circle when in the last episode he is able to say to Delia (who first appears in “Life of Brian”) that he is gay.

One thing that makes the episode so good is that it breaks the stereotype of the poor unrequited lover. Even though we are closer to Brian in this episode than in any other in the series, as through his voiceovers we are privileged with an intimate connection with him, we still find it difficult to like him fully. We empathize with him, we understand where he is coming from, but he is selfish and unfeeling towards others, just as Jordan is, one of the many moments in the series where we see similarities between Jordan and Brian. So often people champion Brian as the perfect guy Angela, the opposite of Jordan. The only thing is, Jordan isn’t all bad, not is Brian all good. Not only did he start the sex rumor in an earlier episode, but in ‘”Life of Brian” he acts with the same selfishness that he and fans admonish Jordan for. His treatment of Delia makes it impossible for us to feel wholly bad for him.
This is the episode that marks the break-up of Sharon with Kyle, who is fighting for her own sense of self-worth.
Like Delia, Corey first appears in this episode, two small characters that enable crucial character development for Rickie and Angela.
The last scene “Try” It is a great moment for Brian when he can step away from his obsession for Angela to recognize that she is not perfect, or wonderful, or even nice “but I guess that was just her shampoo” – one of my all-time proudest moments for a MSCL character!!

I know that we are all used to Angela being mean to Brian and using him, but I don’t think that it is really the case in this episode, even though Brian’s narrative guides us to this conclusion. [[I kind of see that the same thing is true for Jordan and Angela. Sometimes he is most certainly a dick, but other times, he is being honest with her if she would just pay attention, but she just sets herself up to be hurt.]] Angela did really explain to Brian that she just wanted a ride, and it is his fault for reading too much into it. True she should not have involved herself if she knew that he liked her, and even though we as an audience cannot possibly miss his feelings for her from the pilot on, Angela is in denial of them. Angela does not say that her intentions are to make herself available to Jordan Catalano, but she doesn’t really have to explain her intentions to Brian. I like how Brian isn’t the sweet nice nerd, he can be just as big a dick as Jordan, or any of the other characters, can be.

“Whatever happens happens” travels through the mouths of three characters, just as in “Halloween” both Jordan and Brian say “its public property”, but the acceptance of these things varies greatly by who says them.

This episode reveals the strong ties between Patty and Graham (that are further reinforced at the end of “Pressure”) by the fact that right after fighting they are able to share a laugh (“they are going to have such a terrible time”), then return to the issue calmer and able to recognize their faults and admit their needs.

Characters repeating the same line also occurs in the “Oh my God” sequence when Brian appears to pick Angela up for the dance, the same reaction passes through Danielle, Patty and Brian. “Life of Brian” is really about showing how we are all struggling to live comfortably with ourselves, and our selves in relation to others, and while we are different, some things hold true for everyone, and that we are all “trying” as the song at the end says.

Another thing that this episode marks is the end of the “miserable” episodes for Angela. While she is not happy in this one, the world happiness poster at the very end, and perhaps the song too promises her happiness is achievable, and indeed, in the very next episode she is spending all of her time making-out with Jordan Catalano. While Angela’s life is not perfect in “Self-Esteem”, she is much happier, even her parents note it. After “Life of Brian” the show seems to focus more on the suckiness of Brian’s life, Angela still has hard times, but she no longer follows Rayanne around (however this has a lot more to do with the OD in “Other People’s Mothers” than this episode, but perhaps Rayanne’s relative absence in this episode is related to when Angela gets more a sense of her self, although in the next episode she allows Jordan to use her, and we still see Rayanne having some influence over her.

“Life of Brian” is the first of two full episodes done with voiceovers other than Angela’s (we see a little in “Resolution” and some in “So-called Angels”)

Rickie and Delia, and perhaps Patty and Graham, are the only characters who are happy at the end of the episode, so Angela’s “nobody ever has a good time” is untrue. The question is, why ‘world happiness’? The characters themselves question it, Rayanne, Angela and Brian all question it’s validity. Angela sums her argument up, that the idea of the dance is false. And as we see most of the characters ranging from disappointed to miserable throughout the entire episode, we may think that world happiness is unachievable, just as Angela’s face brightens at the sight of Jordan and his attention focused on her, it crumbles as he just as quickly forgets or ignores her, turning his brilliant smile to others. Is happiness unachievable in life, will Rickie never fit in, or is this just the sentiments we feel while we are in our low moments? Delia, who has been rejected, and Rickie, who doesn’t fit in, experience a sense of freedom in their dance, and acceptance by the applause and by the expression on Kyle’s face, who we would suspect would be anti-Rickie… The outsiders are in the center of the dance floor and the object of desire for others. The very end of the episode has the camera move away from Brian and Angela, whose struggles are no longer our focus, but an aspect, we see in the corner of the screen Rickie and Delia dancing, Miss Lerner dancing, even a person on crutches appears to be having fun. “Life of Brian” conceded that misery, disappointment, and mislaid plans are a definite part of life, but offers other ways of being too, it ends focusing on the poster of a smiling world, saying that while we may tend towards thinking that happiness is not only unachievable but trite and old fashioned, it is possible, if we TRY. “Life of Brian” marks a shift in the show-- characters are challenged to begin admitting their faults, what they need and desire, and work towards attaining them. (IT is NOT insignificant that Rayanne plays a minor role in this episode and that she flakes out of the dance because she flakes out on moments of self-reflection, and does not attempt to achieve any growth as the other characters do. Rayanne either stays the same or regresses, she does not grow by the end of the series. Patty has to try to stop being controlling and to find ways of showing support in ways that are not belittling to Graham (we see this on the couch in “Pressure”) Graham has to find self-confidence, AGENCY, and work towards what he wants after he decides what that is. Jordan has to figure-out if he likes Angela, if he wants her, and what he is going to do about it, Angela has to prove that who she is is okay and that she doesn’t have to change, Rickie begins his odyssey, Brian has to.... (one thing he has to do is become more sensitive, which culminates, I think, in “Pressure” on the stairs when he says, “so, is that a problem you’re having”, he also has to figure out what he wants, and if he is going to try for it, in this sense he is like Jordan, and he also has to figure out how to articulate himself and how to speak up, he never accomplishes that, and I’m not sure that we even see evidence that he is working towards it -- the letter can be seen as a major step backwards because not only is it a letter, definitely not speaking, but he signs it under someone else’s name)

Getting back to the title of the episode and the Monty Python film it refers to… In the Film, Brian gets mixed up as Jesus and everything he does gets mixed around, and he is crucified. The movie ends with “Always look on the bright side of life” just as this episode ends with the goofy smiling globe –“world happiness”; it is as simultaneously absurd as looking on the bright side of life when you are being crucified, and just as true and sensible as enjoying life while you’re still alive. The title’s allusion to another show/ film is just one of the many moments of inter-textuality in MSCL.

Shot in the dark: Angela’s question “How am I?” is answered by “I don’t know, you’re not here... Baby don’t hurt me... what is love…”

There are so many great lines in this episode “So maybe this is what people mean, when they talk about, Life” “Whatever happens happens” “Finally, an erection from actual physical contact”

I know that his jumps around A LOT, hope you are able to make some sense of it.
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Brian's "heartlessness"

Post by ldubs » May 29th 2004, 4:19 am

The two most notable instances of Krakow wrongdoing:

1) Spreading the sex rumor.

2) Breaking the date with Delia.

The common thread tying the two cases together? They were both motivated by Brian's love for Angela.

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Re: Brian's "heartlessness"

Post by Jody Barsch* » May 29th 2004, 11:44 am

ldubs wrote:The two most notable instances of Krakow wrongdoing:
1) Spreading the sex rumor. ...They were both motivated by Brian's love for Angela.
I'm not so sure that the rumor was prompted by love so much as jealousy and a sense of being used and rejected. But that could be what you meant.

(Wow, I just read my post up above, there are a LOT of spelling and grammar mistakes :oops: )
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Post by ldubs » May 29th 2004, 2:19 pm

"I'm not so sure that the rumor was prompted by love so much as jealousy and a sense of being used and rejected. But that could be what you meant."

Yes, that is what I meant. Jelousy is often an undesirable outgrowth of love (though there are probably some people who are incapable of love but quite capable of jelousy).


Post by ldubs » May 29th 2004, 2:43 pm

Hmm... Interesting. After re-reading the script, it's not really clear that Brian intended to start the rumor. There's a line where he says something like "I can imagine what she [Sharon] would do with it." He might've just told Sharon that Angela and Jordan spent some time together in the car.

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Post by Jody Barsch* » May 29th 2004, 6:26 pm

ldubs wrote:There's a line where he says something like "I can imagine what she [Sharon] would do with it."
:? Wow, I really don't remember that, I'll have to go back and see. Is that the scene in the computer lab?
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » May 29th 2004, 7:27 pm

Yes, it's the scene in the computer lab.
Brian: What?
Angela: I don't even want to talk to you.

Brian: Good, then don't.

Angela: Did Rickie have the gun?

Brian: Give me a break. God, Angela.

Angela: Look, cause you don't know the whole situation. I just don't want to see him hurt.

Brian: Him hurt? What about me?

[Angela looks disinterested, and stares out the window]

Brian: This is the police now. Am I suppose to get kicked out of school for protecting someone I don't even know?

Angela: Don't ask me.

Brian: And you know this has nothing to do with the truth. Nobody is interested in the truth. All they care about is what they want to believe.

Angela: If you're so incredibly concerned with the truth why did you lie about me?

Brian: Your name didn't even come up.

Angela: Not the gun thing. With Sharon. What you said to her about me and Jordan Catalano.

Brian: What are you talking about?

Angela: I heard her, Brian. You told her terrible things. False things. You lied to her.

[Brian slumps down next to the computer.]

Brian: I didn't lie to her, I just...What difference does it make? I can imagine what she did with it. But it's just that you lied too. When you said you didn't know anything about Jordan coming over that night. Because I thought about it for like fifty hours. You knew, it didn't you? You used me.

Angela: It's not the same.

Brian: Maybe it is because you just did what you wanted. And you didn't care about what damage it did to anybody else.

Angela: What damage did it do you?
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Post by Jody Barsch* » May 29th 2004, 8:42 pm

Brian:What difference does it make? I can imagine what she did with it.
Huh, who knew? It's funny, I clearly remember Brian saying:
I didn't lie to her
and slumping down and saying:
But it's just that you lied too.
I just didn't remember the stuff in between.

Anyway, thanks!
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Post by Jess » May 29th 2004, 8:48 pm

Brian:What difference does it make? I can imagine what she did with it.
I rewatched it because I always thought he said " I can imagine what you did with him" but you were right.Thanks.

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Post by emmie » Aug 1st 2004, 12:17 am

everyone on this thread has written about their really great insights in this particular episode. so now, I'm going to go and be all superficial. I just recently rewatched this ep. and at the dance, when Angela sees Jordan with his friends, he most definitely smiles at her and her appearance. it's almost as if he was caught off guard and was genuinely pleasantly surprised to see her there. there's interest and intrigue in his eyes. but then of course, he remembers he's with his friends and must retain his coolness. what kind of person would Jordan be if not for his stupid reputation and peer pressuring friends?

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Post by Jody Barsch* » Aug 9th 2004, 10:22 pm

emmie wrote:I just recently rewatched this ep. and at the dance, when Angela sees Jordan with his friends, he most definitely smiles at her and her appearance. it's almost as if he was caught off guard and was genuinely pleasantly surprised to see her there. there's interest and intrigue in his eyes. but then of course, he remembers he's with his friends and must retain his coolness. what kind of person would Jordan be if not for his stupid reputation and peer pressuring friends?
I disagree with this slightly. I don't see Jordan smiling at her appearance or being surprised to see her there, pleasantly or otherwise. What I do see happening is: he looks at her, checks her out for half a second, looks at her a bit longer, interested, then looks away, distracted by other things.

I don't see him being especially happy or surprised, or activley acknowleding her presence (even though he is clearly looking at her), nor do I see his looking away as a constious act of self control around his friends. Maybe his reason for not talking to her at that moment is beacuse he is with his friends (as we see later outside when he steps away from his friends, and several times in "Self-Esteem"), but I think really it's that he can't give her his full attention yet. "He's [still] got other things on his mind". (Much later, however, he won't be able to think of anything but her, "Forget the story. I can't think about some crappy story. My life sucks too much. ... Cause, she hates me. And, I deserve it.")

Something that does always strike me about this scene is the way Jordan kind of pushes his friend away as he smiles a very beautiful smile. It is not a good-natured slug you give your buddy, he does it with his finger tips. Something about it always seems flirtatious to me. (side note: Jordan's friends are all very physical, there is a lot of touching between them, but this moment is definitely the most intimate)
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