THIS POST WILL PROBABLY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS ABOUT SOME MID 90’S TEEN DRAMAS YOU PRETEND NOT TO CARE ABOUT, SO BEWARE.
(Pretty much every picture of me taken from ages 2-4 features me standing incredibly close to the TV. I’m sure that could qualify as being a metaphor for my close relationship with it or something. At least I’m wearing sunglasses.)
I decided to write this post yesterday, after I realized I was feeling nothing short of PURE JOY when I was watching Dawson’s Creek. I was glued to the story line, which I take remains pretty consistent for the six seasons of the show. I was so into the dynamic of high school in a small town, and pretty envious of the triangle between Dawson, Joey, and Jen. I still don’t understand why; I had a tight-knit group of friends in high school and I think we all pretended that our collective razor-sharp wit was a gift to the world. I know that I never was the subject of teenage boy desire, definitely not enough to be thrown into a love triangle featuring a good amount of glitter and butterfly hair clips.
The first show I remember having a relationship built on PURE JOY was The Brady Bunch. Let me tell you, I checked out every book about the show in the Nashville Public Library multiple times and could probably still win at a Brady themed trivia contest. My fascination for the show stuck because I’m an only child; I was never lonely growing up, but I guess I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to grow up in a household with six siblings. When I was little, I related to Cindy Brady a lot because I was always the youngest member of the family and I always looked toward the “bigger” kids or the kids who were more confidant in their decisions to provide me with answers to life’s burning questions. When I became a teenager, I was definitely Jan Brady- the awkward, less pretty middle child, but I had an appreciation akin to Marcia Brady’s, for Davy Jones. I spent a lot of time trying to find examples of my personality within the Brady girls perhaps trying to make myself appear to be more groovy.
Being a TEEN is a time for self discovery and my teen years were not an exception. I became even more intertwined with popular culture and furthered my desire to try to find characters which mirrored my incredibly nerdy-anti-style-with-zero-self-confidence personality. The first answer to my televised prayer came as fast as it went. I was on MySpace one day listening to some bizarre new wave music when I discovered a show that made my braces gleam; the one season Sarah Jessica Parker teen dream tv show Square Pegs.
It was a totally different head for me. totally. I was obsessed with the popular nostalgia over the eclectic nature of the 1980’s, and the story of two girls and their nerdy new wave friends really defined who I wanted to be, even though I was totally obsessed with the concept of popularity and fitting in. Square Pegs was one of the few things that gave me comfort in a time fueled with pimples and standard school attire. I finally had a reason to celebrate my love of vintage nerd culture set to a soundtrack featuring The Waitresses and Devo. I couldn’t finish this paragraph forever because I have the pilot episode featuring The Waitresses playing at a school dance, and plenty of “PEOPLE, IT BEHOOVES ME…” lines from Jami Gertz’s career defining performance as Muffy Tepperman.
BUT LET ME TELL YOU. The show where I finally ~found myself~ in a character came to me in the midst of tortured teenage angst phase, where I wore flannel to impress dudes and pretended to know The Melvins from Mr. Bungle. Angela Chase from My So-Called Life became my soul sister I never knew I needed. She struggled with her parents at a time when my diary was filled with more than one yelly letter to mine. She struggled with her best friends, and wondered which side of the friend groups she *really* fit into. Most of all, she was wrapped up in the all-consuming will-they-or-won’t they Jordan Catalano saga. She asked him “why are you like this?!” to Jordan, when I mentally asked the same question to my Jordan Catalano on a daily basis. This show was the first time I was shown that TV could be healing and provide all of the answers.
I don’t think I’ve watched My So-Called Life in full since my sophomore year of high school because it was a pretty painful time spearheaded by R.E.M.’s “Automatic For The People” as a soundtrack. Angela Chase taught me how to navigate through life asking questions, but still remain strong when the answers to those questions totally weren’t what you expect. I’m still asking Tino what these answers are, constantly.
(Can we talk about this picture though? Watching him smoke a cigarette was IT for me.)
(Yes, I now some Melvins songs now. The Jordan pic is from Pinterest, where I’ve probably pinned it before.)