My So-Called Life: 1.02 “Dancing in the Dark”

Season 1 Episode 2
Airdate: September 1, 1994

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Unlike the pilot, which had no theme song, there is an opening theme sequence to begin this episode. All of the footage is taken from the first episode. I guess they only filmed one episode before they had to turn in an opening sequence to ABC. It sorts of acts like a flashback to the previous episode. You can watch it and be like, “Hey remember how awesome that first episode was?”

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Ginger tells us she has only been kissed three times. That’s pretty good for a 15-year-old. Unless two of those times were with her uncle, she has nothing to complain about. The first kiss was from a counselor at a summer camp. That was a flagrant abuse of his authority. Luckily, this was Camp Crystal Lake and Jason Vorhees killed him a week later for taking advantage of an innocent young girl. Her second kiss was from a boy who only did it because he lost a bet. Because in this bizarro world of this TV show, a boy would have to be coerced into kissing Claire Danes.

Her best kiss came from a lifeguard who rescued her from drowning with mouth-to-mouth. Ginger isn’t sure if that counts because she was unconscious. Sweetie, you’ll get more of that when you get to college. You can decide then.

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Ginger’s Hippie Friend goes to Jared Leto because he can get them fake IDs. The two of them are next to a machine but I have no idea what kind of machine it is. Hippie Friend says it ate her money, I guess it’s a vending machine, but it looks like a gas station pump to me, or maybe a mailbox. I don’t know why she would be banging on a gas pump. It ate her money because it is a gas pump and she wasn’t supposed to put money in it.

Ginger, Hippie Friend and Gay Friend are in the bathroom. When I first watched this, I saw this girl in a leather jacket who was just standing by the wall. I was going to write a thing asking what was she doing just alone by the wall. But when I watched it a second time, I saw that she was smoking. It totally shocked me to see a girl causally smoking on TV. It stood out to me more than the boy in the girl’s bathroom. I didn’t start watching teen shows until the late 90s, which by then the anti-smoking movement was in full force and you could never see a person smoking on a show geared towards minors unless she died of lung cancer by the end of the episode or, at the very least, coughed really loudly and threw up a black lung.

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There’s some boring drama concerning science class. That one girl who used to be Ginger’s friend, Back to the Future‘s Jennifer Parker, is jealous that the creepy stalker boy in a pink shirt is Ginger’s lab partner.

Hey, I think Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air wears that exact same sweater. Did teenagers just not care about their appearance in the 1990s? Well, I guess I should take that back. I was in high school in the early 2000s and the kids at my school didn’t really dress that much better.

zack morris saved by the bell

OK, that’s where I saw the sweater last. Saved by the Bell.

Up in her room, Ginger complains about how girls have to spend so much time stressing out with worry about guys when guys have it so easy because don’t have to do the same about girls. Except every boy I was friends with in high school stressed themselves out worrying about girls. Plus, every teenage boy has to figure out how to masturbate without his mom finding out. That is very stressful.

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Ginger and the gang hatch a plan to get her to talk to Jared Leto. Ginger is going to work on the science project with Pink Shirt, which is just an excuse to tell her parents so she could see Jared Leto, who only thinks he is coming over to give her a fake ID. It’s a very dumb idea. They’re teenagers, so whatever,

The gang gathers at Pink Shirt’s where we see that his science project is clearly a bong. Either that or a meth lab

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Pink Shirt hates that the gang is eating his food and drinking his parent’s beer. Ginger runs out to see Jared Leto in his cool guy car. Jared tries to grabs her boobies. Ginger says no, so Jared tries to grab them again. Ginger is mad. “You have to work up to that!” says Ginger, which made me laugh. Ginger was almost molested, but still likes the boy.

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There’s also a plot involving Ginger’s parents. The mom talks to another mom about how much they hate men. They bring up Jane Seymour and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I remember Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. It was on Saturday nights on CBS with Walker, Texas Ranger. That was an awesome combination. I have never watched either show.

Ginger’s mom wants to cut her hair short, but Ginger’s dad thinks it will make her look like Hilary Clinton. Then the mom says she hates how people judge Hilary Clinton by her hair. Did people ever judge her by her hair? I was 9 when this episode aired and didn’t begin paying attention to politics until George W. Bush was in the White House. “I think she should wear more red,” says Ginger’s uncle, referring to Mrs. Clinton. The uncle has that ‘I’m a lame stand up comic in the 80s’ hair and I don’t know what he meant by that remark.

Mom and dad take a dance class. Mom shows up with a new short haircut. She is also pissed that the man leads in dancing because Mom is a feminist who has apparently never danced before because did not know this.

Later, Dad admits to the uncle that he met another woman and is considering an affair, but then calls the other woman and says no to sexy sex time. I don’t care.

Grade: D-

I could not wait to be done watching this. I genuinely enjoyed the first episode, but If the rest of the series is as boring as this episode, I’ll have to quit after the fourth episode.

Final Thoughts

[A]ctress Claire Danes was also a catalyst for the show’s demise. Producer Marshall Herskovitz said in an interview in 2000 that “such a long time had passed since Danes had signed on to the pilot that she was ready to leave and do film.”…

Herskovitz said Danes and her parents approached the show’s creators and told producers that she did not want to be involved with the show if it was permitted to continue for a second season. Nevertheless, the producers were fully committed to continuing the show. In perhaps one of the first times in the history of the new and burgeoning World Wide Web, fans used the new technology as a tool to help mobilize grassroots support. U.S. fans also took out expensive advertisements in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter urging ABC to renew the show, yet they had no way of knowing about the internal conflict in the show’s last days…

The rumors of the end of the show strongly divided its passionate fans. Flame wars raged across the Internet, especially after Steve Joyner of Operation Life Support (the group that worked so hard to save the show) and some cast members confirmed the rumors — angry themselves, in some cases. Joyner’s letter was entitled “Claire Danes Brings Death to ‘Life’.” Fans were sharply divided between those who believed or disbelieved the reports, and those who thought it was forgivable in any event for a teenage actress to find a way out of a long contract. Others believed Danes’ desire to leave was not acceptable, especially given her public stance of support for the movement to save the show. Many fans felt betrayed due to having spent significant time and money in an effort to save the show when its star was secretly working against them.

– from Wikipedia’s MSCL page

I hate to say this because all those MSCL fans who argued about this online have to be over 40 by now and hopefully do have lives, but these people need to get a life. Spending your own money to keep a show from being cancelled makes you a loser. I’ve seen plenty of shows I enjoyed get cancelled prematurity. I’ve been through this with Arrested Development, Futurama, Action, Firefly, Greg the Bunny and about 50 other shows on Fox. You know what I did? Not a damn thing. I didn’t sign and online petition or send an angry letter to the network, I just accepted it and found something else to watch.

If you’re not getting paid by the show, why would you ever care so much? Just watch something else. There was plenty of good stuff on cable in 1994. Quit whining, order Comedy Central and watch Mystery Science Theater 3000. You will not be disappointed.