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There's Life After Death On The 'Net

Calgary Herald
June 22, 1998

There is Life after death on the 'Net

by Mike Boon

The axe fell on the critically acclaimed series My So-Called Life early in 1995, but Life goes on thanks to the Internet.

The So-Called Fan Fiction site (www.fanfiction.home.ml.org), operated by Sascha Beck since August 1997, has kept the series going strong. Beck didn't want to let the series fall into oblivion as "just another TV show" so he created the site to keep the spirit of My So-Called Life alive.

Fan fiction on the 'Net is nothing new, it offers an opportunity for fans to print their original stories without the worries of copyright laws, but most of the fan fiction revolves around science-fiction series like Xena: Warrior Princess, X-Files and Star Trek.

Beck's site boasts more than 100 stories and poems inspired and/or based on the show, written by 40 authors. As Beck puts it, "If someone would want to print out all these stories, it would take more than 1,000 pages of paper."

My So-Called Life burned brightly on ABC for six months in 1995. Revolving around the life of 15-year-old Angela Chase (Claire Danes), the show won the Television Critics' Association's award for best drama that year. Danes took home a Golden Globe for her revealing and uncanny performance, acclaimed by many for its heartfelt emotion and incredible subtlety.

Nonetheless, the show dwelled in the ratings cellar all season long. In the 1994-95 TV season, the series was the lowest-ranked of all shows on ABC.

Since then, Beck says, the My So-Called Life community has only grown larger. Showcase and MTV continue to air reruns of the 19-episode series and Danes has used the show as a stepping stone for a feature film career (Romeo and Juliet, The Rainmaker).

Beck, who describes himself as "a German guy living in France," says the show "changed my life, because I now know that TV shows can have high standards, TV can come close to real life and TV can be honest to its viewers."

Beck first saw My So-Called Life in early 1996 and he was instantly addicted. After he learned about the show's cancellation over the Internet ("a very depressing moment"), he read something about a hypothetical episode 20. After searching the Internet for several days, he stumbled across eight more screenplays and got in contact with an author who had finished 10 new stories.

Beck, a student of information science, decided to create a Website that would collect all of the Life stories in one place.

Beck believes the special appeal with My So-Called Life comes from the fact that "the show is something special and true. It's about real life.

Sophisticated shows are very rare on TV. Until today, ther's nothing else that could be compared to My So-Called Life. As long as there are teenagers having problems with adolescence, My So-Called Life will have (fans)."

What also distinguishes the So-Called Fiction site is the fact that the teleplays are surprisingly true to the original series. Besides the expected parodies (My So-Called X-Files), some of the screenplays for future episodes might as well have been penned by Life screenwriter Winnie Holzman.

The So-Called Fan Fiction site gets about 3,000 hits per month and about 600 people have left their e-mail addresses to be informed of updates and new stories. Not bad for a series that was replaced by a Mark Harmon detective drama called Charlie Grace (Remember it? Didn't think so).

As Beck puts it, "it shows that you can't trust ratings."


“Ignore her. She got up on the wrong side of the coffin this morning.”

Enrique (Rickie) Vasquez, Episode 9: "Halloween"