My So-Called Life

Common Sense Media says

Mature teen angst at its best.

Age(i)

2
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9
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13
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show portrays the realities of teen life, stressing the importance of friendship and staying true to oneself and one's values. Honesty, communication, and trust are also critical when it comes to both marriage and parent-child relationships.

Positive role models

Characters are fairly typical and relatable teens, portrayed realistically rather than idealistically: They sneak out of the house, throw parties when parents are gone, date the "bad boy," try to mend old friendships, and create new ones. While some of Angela's friends struggle with serious problems and issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, premarital sex, and physical abuse, she manages to steer clear of most negative influences and stay out of trouble. More often than not, she makes the right choice -- and when she doesn't, there are negative consequences.

Violence

One character is physically abused; a gun is found in a school locker.

Sex

Casual sex, comments about having sex ("it will help [with schoolwork] if you have sex with me"), horny teenagers, a girl uses her boyfriend for sex but wants to break up with him, a daughter finds porn video in her parents' room, sex in a parked car is caught on tape.

Language

Very mild ("damn").

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and smoking. One character has an overdose.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic teen series tackles mature topics including casual sex, homosexuality (including a teen who struggles with coming out), drinking, drugs, child abuse, young love, infidelity, divorce, death, homelessness, and manipulation. Each storyline is handled in detail, delicately, and often with parental involvement.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Only 19 episodes ever aired of the 1994 cult favorite MY SO-CALLED LIFE, but those same 19 episodes are still airing in reruns, entrancing a whole new generation of teenagers with their realism and intensity. For teens Angela Chase (Claire Danes), Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto), Rickie Vasquez (Wilson Cruz), Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall), Sharon Cherski (Devon Odessa), and Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer), life in high school is, like, hard -- or whatever. Angela's story follows the true transition of a suburban girl from a middle-class family as she breaks off from her best friend from junior high (Sharon) and the geek next door (Brian) and begins to discover herself in high school. Angela dyes her hair, befriends the school tramp (Rayanne) and her gay best friend (Rickie), and falls for the epitome of the dumb, hot upperclassman, Jordan Catalano (his first name is rarely spoken without his last name following).

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

My So-Called Life handles standard high school woes with delicate insight, covering everything from zits, a gun at school, and the cool kid who can't read to censorship in the classroom, best friends' betrayal, a teen boy's struggle to come out, and other situations that run the sexual gamut.

My So-Called Life made TV history by being the first show to include "like" and "ya know" in its teen characters' dialogue. Unfortunate as that may be, it is relatable for the average American high school student -- My So-Called Life is a show that actually speaks their language. Also, the series' topics (and the maturity with which they were handled) put My So-Called Life ahead of its mid-'90s time -- which ultimately may have been part of the reason for its quick demise. But it has rarely left the airwaves since, airing over and over in repeats, a fact that speaks to its lasting quality and ability to deliver both entertainment and conversation for teens and their parents.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about a wide range of issues, including fitting in at school, divorce, first crushes, homosexuality, drugs, parties, drinking, and dating. Each episode presents an opportunity to have a dialogue with your teen. Does making new friends mean losing your old ones? What are some unexpected things your teen has experienced in high school? Parents might use the series as an entry point to set some ground rules about curfew, sneaking out, and dating.

TV details

Cast:Claire Danes, Devon Odessa, Jared Leto
Network:TeenNick
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of My So-Called Life was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bydgm264 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Teen, 15 years old Written byspickolick April 6, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Great Show, Am Going To Miss It

Such an amazing show. I'm so upset it was canceled as early as it was. To be honest, I was on the fence about watching it, until my mom eventually convinced me it was worth watching. Now all my friends and I have major marathons of this show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where we stay up all weekend watching nothing bu the two shows.
My point here is that this is a show that is something you won't be forgetting any time soon. I can relate to almost any character, and much less racey than Freaks and Geeks, which is also an awesome show, but touches on more mature issues.
Watch this show. You won't be disappointed.

Teen, 13 years old Written bySlipperyQ October 7, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Her So-Called Life

My mom gave me this show to watch when I turned thirteen. I've enjoyed every moment of it greatly- Angela reminds me of myself. I relate to her in so many ways. She, and all of the other colorful characters, are so easy to fall in love with. I rooted for them the entire time. The themes are heavy and intense, but easy to enjoy. The characters are introspective and interesting to listen to. I love it- and I will probably hold its messages close for the rest of my life.

What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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