if i could hold them in my hand, i'd make them understand
as a child of the late 80's and early 90's, there were two television shows that i truly believe played a significant part in making me the person i am today--the wonder years and my so-called life. each defined growing up for me, first the wonder years in my adolescent years and then my so-called life in my teenage years. each were finely detailed depictions of adolescence and maturation, capturing the exquisite details of how wonderful--and how excruciating--the process could be.
each show also defined how powerful music could be in the context of life, and each introduced me to music that i may have never heard anywhere else. i went through a stretch of childhood where i listened exclusively to classic rock, probably mostly due to the music i heard in the wonder years; and my so-called life came around just as i was beginning to immerse myself in alternative rock. so many scenes from these shows were made unforgettable by the music that soundtracked them, and i attribute much of my desire to soundtrack my own life to the weekly realizations i would have while watching these shows of how the right song could identify and clarify experiences and emotions.
my so-called life lasted only one short season before a lack of viewership spelled its demise. but thankfully, full episodes now air on abc.com, with a new episode every friday and remaining online for two weeks. airing now is "self-esteem", an episode with one of the most memorable tv moments of my youth--jordan catalano grabbing angela chase's hand, set to the tune of buffalo tom's "late at night". the episode and especially the closing scene perfectly captures the complexities of teenage relationships and the eternal conflict between love (or maybe it's just sex) and wanting to look cool. it sounds so cheesy put like that, but it was undeniably a watershed moment for a young, still-impressionable 16 year-old like me, and if you saw it you probably know what scene i am talking about.
buffalo tom : "late at night"
from the lp [big red letter day] (beggars uk, 1993)
watch "self-esteem" from my so-called life through february 29th at abc.com
buy my so-called life on dvd