Scents can bring back incredibly vivid images. I can picture myself standing in my childhood bathroom, eleven years old, Airwalks on my feet, and a broken bottle of CK One on the floor that my babysitter Courtney Signorella gave me. She has long brown hair, and reminds me of that girl in Dazed and Confused. And if it’s a Saturday night, she’s at my house educating me on the inner workings of MTV culture while we watch Kurt Cobain unplugged, that Aerosmith music video chick, and of course, her crush, Jordan Catalano.
The first fictional character I found myself desperate to understand, was a cherry haired pre-teen Angela Chase (played by Claire Danes), the lead in this once controversial series, My So-Called Life. Angela had replaced her old friends with a set of new ones. Brian Krakow and Sharon Cherski didn’t make the cut. She was intrigued with Rayanne Graff, a girl who’s hair changed on a daily basis, and Rickie, who was gay, hung out in the girls’ bathroom, and wore sweet multi-colored vests. They scoffed at the idea of being “normal.”
The entire season, Angela just lionized Jordan Catalano (I got the feeling she liked saying his name aloud), a guy who was always brooding, leaning, couldn’t read, loved his car, and loved him some flannel. We all just wanted him to notice her. C’mon, she went to his Frozen Embryos practice. She sacrificed test reviews to meet him in the boiler room. So, it all came to this great climax in episode 19, and ended there. Jordan goes to Angela’s house (has about 7 glasses of milk) and meanwhile, Angela sees Brian Krakow outside and asks him about “the letter.” A few episodes before that, Jordan had given Angela a letter explaining why he’s such a douche and how if she told him to go to hell, he’d go. But, Jordan didn’t truly write the letter. Brian wrote it for him, because Jordan is illiterate and one dimensional, and talks about “the people who make snow.”
Brian always had a crush on Angela, one that may have been explored if the show had been renewed for a second season. However, the network let it go after that 19th episode, for many reasons, one major reason being Danes who wanted to just do film. After all these years, I don’t know if seeing Angela ride away in Jordan’s beloved car made sense. People have said that the abrupt cancellation of the series is fitting for a show that was portraying the uncomfortable core of adolescence. At its very peak, we were left in the dust with curly haired Brian Krakow as he peddled away on his bike. Angela told him it did matter if he wrote the letter. But, Brian never confirmed he did. Whenever I unscrew the cap of a CK One bottle, I can still smell the sweet sensations of a short-lived, high impact show flowing through me. It affected its loyal audience in ways that seem to go beyond subtlety, beyond a feeling that makes sense, like, you know….life.