My So-Called Life: 1.10 “Other People’s Mothers”

Season 1 Episode 10
Airdate: November 3, 1994

I’ve previously talked about how much longer MSCL episodes are compared to TV shows today, due to the increase in commercial breaks. While watching this episode, I timed the credits. They are 1 minute, 6 seconds long. That’s unprecedented now. Most series don’t even have proper theme songs anymore!

Ginger’s friends are over to raid her refrigerator because they are teenagers so love to eat. Hippie Friend even swipes a bottle of beer. But then Ginger’s mother and little sister enter the house and catch them. Gay Friend was holding the bottle, so Mom thinks he is the thief.

“You’re drinking a beer,” says Ginger’s sister, “at 4:30?” I like that the kid knows when it’s too early in the day for alcohol. That seems to be her objection, rather than sneaking beer. Mom takes back the beer and pours it down the sink. I don’t know in what state this show takes place, but I’m certain it can’t be the Midwest. No one in the Midwest would waste beer like that.

The next day, the gang heads to Hippie Friend’s house. Ginger, as well as us, sees it for the first time. We’ve met her mom in an earlier episode, but this is Ginger’s first encounter. Hippie’s mom gives Ginger a big hug. She also mentions that her job is as an X-ray technician. I would have assumed it was living off Social Security Disability. This tends to be the case with the people I have known whose homes are decorated like headshops and are older than 25.

Hippie Mom is into tarot cards. She uses the cards to explain that Ginger’s mother is also someone’s daughter, which blows Ginger’s mind.

We then go to Ginger Mom, who is dealing with Ginger Mom Mom, also known as Granny Ginger. Ginger’s mom was adopted, so that’s an issue between them. She was adopted, yet looks just like her mother. Maybe the casting director wasn’t told about the adoption. Granny Ginger should be a black woman.

The grandparents’ 45th anniversary is Saturday, and the celebration will be hosted in the Ginger family home. Granny Ginger is driving her daughter BONKOS causing Ginger Mom to complain about to her to her husband JUST LIKE GINGER IS COMPLAINING ABOUT HER MOM RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE! Whenever Ginger has an episode about parent issues, her parents are having issues with their parents.

Ginger Mom goes to picks up Ginger and meets Hippie Mom. I mean, they have already met, but whatever. Ginger Mom doesn’t like Hippie Mom, even though they liked each other last time, but whatever.

Hippie’s absentee father sent her $270. She will use it to throw a part, a gala event! “How much have you had to drink today?” Gay Friend asks when she starts flashing her cash in the girls’ room. Hippie Friend has previously been established to be an alcoholic. She can get away with being drunk in school because she doesn’t act all that different, really. Also, this is the high school where no teacher or administrator has yet to notice that Jared Leto can’t read. Hippie hands out invitations throughout the school. It’s part of a montage that includes her procuring drugs and booze and making out with a boy.

The event will be at her house. Hippie’s mom says she is cool with a little bit of teenage drinking. She says while sipping a margarita.

Ginger really wants to attend, but it’ll be the same time as her grandparents’ anniversary party. Ginger asks her mom to be allowed to go to Hippie’s. But Ginger’s mom says no. Ginger’s mom is going to be miserable that night, so wants her daughter to be miserable too. We’re a family, Goddamnit!

It’s Saturday night and both parties are bopping. Well, actually the anniversary party is still being set up while Hippie’s party is underway. The old people have their party later in the night than the teenagers.

Except Grandpa Ginger isn’t present for his anniversary. Grandma reports that he did not feel like attending. This pisses off Ginger’s dad, because he made sure to cook all the food with ingredients that wouldn’t give a fat old man a heart attack, which really takes away from the flavor.

The crowd at Hippie’s place is very numerous. This is when Hippie identifies the location of the series as Pennsylvania. Hippie slips into the bathroom to take Ecstasy and a beer. That’s rude of her to do that in private. She just doesn’t want to share.

Back at the Ginger house, Ginger’s mom has to get her daughter out of her bedroom. “That is what you choose to wear to your grandparents’ anniversary party?” mom says looking at her daughter’s t-shirt and jeans outfit. It shouldn’t really matter how she dresses when her grandfather didn’t even want to come. Grandpa is over at Hippie Friend’s party.

Ginger still wants to go to her friend’s, but Ginger Mom still says no. But Granny Ginger gives her permission to leave. Way to totally undermine the parent there!

Ginger arrives at Hippie Friend’s. The madness is well underway. Hippie is happy to have her best (legally) female friend over, but she is incredibly inebriated and falls over, spilling a deck of tarot cards.

Look at the card that ended up on the top of the deck. Does that card mean something? The correct answer is no. I also would have accepted: Tarot cards are stupid.

Hippie Mom arrives home from work and puts an immediate stop to the party and kicks all the kids out. She expected a small number of friends to show up and watch Walker, Texas Ranger. Not this circus! I did not expect Hippie Mom to act like a responsible parent here. Turns out she is not a total white trash whore.

Hippie Mom berates her daughter for being drunk. But instead of staying, mom leaves for a date, probably with one of the boys at the party.

So Hippie’s care is left to Gay Friend.  S/he and Ginger carry Hippie to the bathroom where Hippie promptly stops breathing.

Back at the Ginger house, the phone rings. Ginger Mom uses her mom superpowers to immediately know it’s Ginger.

Ginger Mom arrives on the scene. She is the calm, cool head and takes care of things until the ambulance arrives. It was her idea to call the ambulance. Teenagers are stupid.

The EMTs take Hippie Friend to the hospital. Ginger Mom and Gay Friend have a talk in the lobby. Ginger Mom now knows that s/he did not take her beer. Not that Ginger Mom ever appreciated that beer!

 Hippie Mom arrives in the hospital room and cries over her daughter, who is going to be alright. I mean, any brain damage won’t be that much of a loss considering who we are dealing with.

A policeman wants to talk to Hippie Mom. “Are you kidding me,” complains Hippie Mom “again?” She hates how she has to be interrogated by the police every time her daughter winds up in the hospital from an overdose. I suppose Child Protective Services hasn’t taken Hippie Friend away because she’ll be 18 in a couple of years so it doesn’t seem worth the paperwork.

Ginger Mom, Ginger, and Gay Friend go back to the anniversary party. This party is going really late considering how long they had to have been at the hospital. Gay Friend goes inside first so Ginger and her mom can have a heart-to-heart. Ginger Mom tells her daughter she did the right thing and can always call mom when shit gets real. Ginger Mom also said she had a college roommate who was much like Hippie Friend. She died.

The girls go inside after Ginger says, “Poor Ricky he’s surrounded by our relatives” who think he’s a Negro.

Ginger says something about tarot cards that is supposed to relate to the lesson of this episode. It didn’t make sense to me. I’m sure it does to a 15-year-old girl who thinks she is really deep.

Grade: A-

This was a nice episode. However, Mr. T taught us more about understanding our mothers in 3 minutes than MSCL could in 45.