Patty Chase (Betty Armstrong) puts up with a lot of shit. Not only does she have to put up with playing the bad cop to good cop dad, Graham Chase (Tom Irwin), but she also gave birth to teenage drama lightning rod Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and has to work for her own dad (Paul Dooley), whose staggering immaturity puts any Liberty High student to shame. Nobody gave Patty enough credit for enduring record levels of angst and ennui once every week when the show was on the air, and that's why I'm dedicating this week's Pop Pedestal to My So-Called Life's Patricia Chase.
In Two Friends, leads Emma Coles and Kris Bidenko deliver nuanced, ingenuous performances as polar opposites Louise and Kelly. The movie documents the dissolution of their childhood friendship following Louise's acceptance into an elite girls' academy that Kelly's stepfather refuses to let her attend. I chose 1986's Two Friends for a few reasons. Its status as an Australian TV movie is exceptional, though it screened at the Cannes Film Festival as well. Helen Garner's script unfolds in reverse chronology. Though she only wrote a few screenplays, Garner has since enjoyed a long career in her native Australia as a novelist and journalist. Finally, as a follow-up to Campion's breakthrough short film, A Girl's Own Story, Two Friends is one of Campion's few films to foreground the fragile nature of adolescence and female homosocial bonding. Typical of her output, it does so with nary a hint of condescension.
My So-Called Life only lasted one season on ABC during the 1994-1995 season. But for a considerable number of folks in my peer group, the critical darling was a huge part of our adolescence, televisual fandom, and nascent feminism.
I never really identified with protagonist Angela Chase (Claire Danes), as she was prone to bouts of maudlin narcissism. I related more to type-A childhood friend Sharon Cherski (Devon Odessa), particularly her struggle to balance advanced course work with a myriad of extra-curricular activities. I also enjoyed Cherski's developing friendship with Deadhead Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer), who Chase abandons Cherski for early in the series' season-long run. Like Cherski, I wasn't sure what to make of Graff the first few times I watched the show during its initial run on ABC and when MTV re-ran it a few years later. Graff's self-destructive tendencies were frightening, but her creative potential always had me rooting for her.