My So-Called Life: 1.09 “Halloween”

Season 1 Episode 9
Airdate: October 27, 1994

Ginger stares at a jack-o-lantern and tells us she worshipped Halloween when she was little. “It’s your one chance all year to be someone else,” says the girl who dyed her hair and changed all her friends a few months ago.

Lil Ginger, her sister, needs a costume for school and she needs it that morning. It’s Halloween today.

Ginger suggest she, “Be a pain the butt since you are.”

‘I’d be you,” Lil Ginger retorts, “but nobody could find a mask that ugly.” If this was a TGIF sitcom, those lines would be followed by a six minute roar of insanely loud canned laughter.

Ginger didn’t wear a costume to school, but several students and teachers did. Ex-B is dressed as a cat. There’s a girl in a French maid’s outfit in the back. I’m not sure if the teacher is Obi-Wan or Moses.

In the girls’ room, Hippie Friend is shaving her legs over the sink. If this was a boys’ bathroom, that row of sinks would be one urinal trough. Frizzy Haired Boy stares at her because the door is open as he walks past.

Hippie Friend is a vampire, Gay Friend is dressed as Frizzy Haired Boy, and Ginger changes into a costume Hippie brought for her. I think she is Velma from Scooby-Doo.

Ginger has the name “Nicky Driscoll“ written in an old book. The girls discuss the legend of Nicky Driscoll, a student who died in the gym on Halloween night 1963 and some (girls) say still haunts the school.  Ginger is unfamiliar with the story, so her friends explain it. Nicky Driscoll was part of a group who were going to paint the gym black as a Halloween prank. Nicky climbed a ladder, under which “some moron girls leaves her spiked heel in the middle of floor.“ Nicky fell and “this humongous spike stabbed him right in the nostril.”

Ginger’s parents go to a costume shop. Because it is the day of Halloween, the woman behind the counter gives them what she has left, a Rapunzel and a pirate outfit. Ginger’s mom has a problem with Rapunzel because she takes offense to the idea that men prefer long hair on a woman. Ginger’s mom should consider herself lucky she isn’t going costume shopping today, because the only Halloween costumes they make for women anymore are sexy costumes.

Ginger is walking up the stairs when she thinks she sees Nicky Dricoll’s ghost. But it is really Jared Leto. Ginger is obsessed with the ghost story.

Ginger needs to relay a message to Leto, but with her costume on, he doesn’t seem to know who she is. The English teacher said if he doesn’t start showing up for class he is going to get kicked out. “Like it’s doing so much for me,” he shoots back. Which is true. He isn’t getting any help with his illiteracy.

Hippie Friend runs up to Ginger with a plan. “We are going to contact the spirit of Nicky Driscoll,” she proclaims and then makes dog howls.

In the library, Ginger finds the Driscoll memorial page in an old yearbook. She also has the 1994 issue of Rolling Stone with a cover story on Kurt Cobain’s suicide and subsequent death, and opines about how some people are fated to die young (due to being stupid).

Back home, Lil Ginger shows off her costume. She is dressed as her big sister Ginger . She makes fins of her big sister’s manner of speech and Take THAT mid-90s teen America. Gen Y is taking Gen X down a peg! Lil Ginger trying to look like her sister looks like a girl trying to look like Kurt Cobain.

Ex-B takes Lil Ginger Trick-or-Treating and asks Lil why she dressed up as her big sister. “I hate her so much,” is Lil’s excuse. That the same excuse I used when I dressed up as Hitler one Halloween. I was nearly expelled from college.

Meanwhile, Ginger, Hippie, Gay and Frizzy are sitting on the steps outside of the school. They wanted to conduct the séance in the gym because that is where Driscoll died, but didn’t factor in that the school is locked at night. Frizzy wants in on the séance. Not that he believes in ghosts, but he knows mostly girls believe in that bullshit and wants to stare at some ladies.

The other kids don’t really want Frizzy there, but he is the one who knows a way to get into the school, though a window in a storage unit for old A/V equipment. They are inside!

“Maybe the cafeteria’s unlocked,” Hippie proclaims. Sweet, they can get corn dogs and half-pints of milk.

Unfortunately, while they are in a stairwell, Frizzy accidentally lets the door behind him close. It locks from the other end, which cuts off their only way to get back out! In Frizzy’s defense, he was staring at Hippie’s leg because that’s his thing now.

Frizzy says they can unlock the door by going to the central computer and shutting down the security system. He takes Hippie along and attempts to hack the mainframe. But he seems to have accidentally caused the lights to go out. Good job genius, you probably dropped power to the electric fences that are keeping the dinosaurs contained.

Ginger went a different way. She saw a ghostly shadow and followed it. Now she is wandering the hallway alone as ghostly sounds and an oldies song plays. She sees the appearance of two girls in early 1960s clothing who talk about Ricky Nelson and Elvis. She follows these apparitions into the gym.

Gay Friend didn’t join in breaking into the school. Instead, he heads to the football field where a bunch of young ruffians are lousing about. Someone is even revving a dirt bike. Gay Friend ducks under the bleachers, where he runs into Jared Leto smoking. Leto admits to Gay that he is tired of taking part in youthful hooliganism every Halloween night.  “You better get out of here.” Leto warns Gay.“These guys are petty ripped. And they can rape you all they want and it wouldn’t make them gay because it’s Halloween and those are the rules.”

Back to Ginger. She hears the ghost girls talk about Nicky. He gave one of the girls a rose, but she is not interested, saying, “He’s a loser” who is going nowhere in life. I totally picked up that this is a allegory for Ginger and Jared Leto without having to read about it from some scholarly My So-Called Life publication. The girl drops her rose and Ginger picks it up. She walks out of the gym and sees Nicky Driscoll!

We are taken back to Ginger’s parents, who are in their costumes and handing out candy. These kids are nicer than the ones I met when I handed out candy last Halloween. I mean, the little kids were cool, but later in the night is when the 14 and 15-year-olds showed up, which in my opinion is too old to be going door-to-door for candy. Especially when I’d get these young teenage girls in tiny dresses and of course I was compelled to give them lots and lots of candy.

The parents’ costumes are making them horny. The dad role plays as a pirate, in the sense that he’s been out to sea for 400 days without seeing a woman. He is horny and his ass is sore. They go to town on each other.

“You’re sword!” the mom cries.

“Sorry,” the dad says and removes the toy sword that came with his costume. Standards & Practices made sure they showed the sword.

Back to Frizzy and Hippie. Hippie calls him out for looking at her legs, both times. Frizzy walks away in embarrassment, but Hippie pleads with him to stay because she is scared of the dark. Instead of demanding sexual favors like a normal boy would, Frizzy asks her why she is scared. Hippie explains:

‘Cause when I was a kid my dad would come home wigged out of his mind and he’d lock me in the basement. I ‘d sleep at the foot of the stairs ‘cause if I pressed my face against the floor I’d see the light the we left on in the hallway. But if I turned around it would be…so dark.

Then she laughs. That never happened. She just wanted to mess with Frizzy. She never even met her dad. So ha!

They can’t get out of the school, but they can use a phone. Frizzy calls his parents and Hippie coaches him on how to lie to them about his whereabouts. With her help, Frizzy is able to make up a best friend at whose house he is spending the night.

Back to Ginger. She approaches Nicky’s ghost. The Elvis Presley cover of “Blue Moon” plays, to which Nicky says to Ginger,“You know, I heard Elvis was only our age when he recorded this. He’ll be young and fit forever.”

Nicky excuses himself to go to the gym, where he is going to get revenge on this stupid building for being expelled from it. Ginger begs him to stop because he will die, but Nicky says he has to do this. Nicky enters the gym. Ginger tries to stop him, but she is locked out and cries outside the gym doors.

It’s morning. Frizz and Hippie wake up together in the mainframe and find Ginger asleep in the hallway. Since the janitors unlocked everything, they are free and aren’t paid enough to tell on them.

Back home, Ginger’s mom says, “I mean what is the deal with Rapunzel anyway?” Oh God, no gender politics please. Just one episode with no fucking gender politics. Anyway, mom works up the courage to fire her employee. She does it over the phone. She did it with the power of Pirate Semen.®

Later, mom returns the costumes. The costume shop lady knew they had sex in them because everyone has sex in those costumes. This lady is sick.

At school, Ginger talks to Leto because he still won’t go to class. She encourages him to be the best, but Leto is still frustrated because no one will teach him how to read. Which is a legitimate compliant.  “You have to seize the day,” replies Ginger, “everyday.”

“We all have candy hangovers,” says the English teacher to begin class. By that she means he was drinking candy flavored schnapps all night.

Leto enters the class. Ginger is happy. I mean, he won’t be able to keep up and desperately needs to be in some sort of remedial English class because he can’t fucking read, but Ginger considers it a victory. Now there is no way Jared Leto will fall down a ladder and be stabbed to death by a high-healed shoe.

Hey, there is the rose in her book! HOLY FUCKING SHIT GHOSTS IS REAL!

Grade: D

The comparison between Nicky and Jared Leto was interesting. It was clearly why Ginger was so obsessed with Nicky’s story and was so frantic to save him. However, putting a ghost story in what otherwise strives to be a realistic portrayal of teenage life was stupid. My least favorite episode so far.