Nothing has ever made me want to wear plaid and listen to Nirvana as much as re-watching “My So-Called Life” on Hulu. 

“My So-Called Life” is a TV series that aired in 1994/95. It follows 15-year-old Angela Chase as she navigates life. There were only 19 episodes made before the series was cancelled, ending abruptly without resolving any of the main storylines. However, it has a cult following of Gen-Xers who felt the angst of the 90s first hand.

My Experience Then

When the show aired, I was 15 years old like the main character. I, too, crushed on a boy at my high school that I never had hopes of dating. My friend circle was always changing and things that seemed certain were suddenly in flux at home and at school. Plus, I didn’t know who I was or how I was going to even make it through the mess of high school. 

Me in 1997 in a plaid jacket and corduroy pants.

I immediately loved watching “My So-Called Life” every week, and felt a kinship with the main character. It’s like she knew me. Her courage helped me feel braver. And let’s face it: what girl wouldn’t love watching Jordan Catalano lean against the lockers? Like Angela, I loved Jordan even though he was confusing and distant. I devoured every episode and felt crushed when the show ended.

My Experience Now

Re-watching the show as a 42-year-old provided a very different experience than my 15-year-old self. I still felt all of the growing pains the main characters experience, but found myself drawn more to her parents’ story lines. Watching them grapple with raising a teenager while balancing their own careers and marriage hit me in the heart, much like how I felt as a teen when I felt understood by Angela. 

This series plunges into some deep issues that were not commonly dealt with on TV during the 1990s. There are themes of teen drug addiction, homelessness, school violence, sexuality, and abuse. I appreciate that the pain and problems the characters face are not easily resolved, but are issues they must work through over time like in the real world. 

I recommend watching “My So-Called Life.” It will bring back memories of your hair scrunchies, weird vests, plaid shirts and overalls if you were coming of age in the 90s. It will also remind you of the difficulties we all faced in our adolescence — and the things that our teens today are facing, too.  

Re-watching gave me, again, the deep sense of normalcy and sameness that it did in my first viewing. We are not facing unique challenges or experiencing singular joy. We are in this messy world together, tackling many of the same problems and celebrating much of the same bliss. 

Enjoy your journey through “My So-Called Life,” observing Angela wrestle with who she is, and watching Jordan lean. And like, wear a plaid shirt… or whatever.

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