Tuesday, June 16

My So-Called Life vs. My Real Teenage Life

Last week I had a terrible horrible cold and was forced to miss a mini-vacation with my fiance to see his best friend in Kansas. Instead I stayed home and watched a lot of TV. One night I did a marathon of My So-Called Life, which definitely got me thinking about this week's topic of the week at TFC: friends and boyfriends.

I watched a lot of shows and movies about life in high school in grade school and junior high, just wondering if my life would be that way once I got to high school. I watched the original Degrassi, the original Beverly Hills, 90210 (I guess I'm dating myself here) and the movie Dazed and Confused (I was so glad my freshman year didn't start with hazing rituals like in that movie!). None of them ended up reflecting my high school experience.

Then, My So-Called Life came on the air. It was a freaky mirror for my experience. The main character Angela Chase was going through her fictional sophomore year of high school the same year I was going through my real life sophomore year of high school and we were having a *ton* of the same experiences.

I didn't have a real life Rayanne Graff (or a Rickie, I *really* wish I had a real life Rickie!), but the thing is I had an inner Rayanne. Sophomore year, I really wanted to break the mold and start living my life the way I felt on the inside. I didn't want to be the shy, studious girl anymore; I wanted to unleash my inner punk rocker and meet fellow punk rockers and party and have fun. While Angela on MSCL was dyeing her hair 'Crimson Glow,' I put a big blond streak down the middle of mine. I also alienated my long-time best friend-- my real life Sharon Cherski--when I decided I wanted to start hanging out at Scoville Park, where all the kids like me seemed to congregate.... and the Jordan Catalano boys.

The thing I laughed the hardest about while watching my MSCL marathon last Friday night was Angela's hopeless infatuation with Jordan. I remember being fifteen and relating so hard to that crush; it was so serious. It broke my heart when the song she thought he was singing about her was really about his car. Now I shake my head and smile knowingly and say, "Of course it's about the car, duh!"

TV gave me some bad boyfriend role models I have to say. I lusted over Jordan Catalano and Dylan McKay growing up and when I dated their real life counterparts, I always wound up getting hurt and/or in trouble. My three high school loves were all in the Jordan Catalano mold-- rebels without causes, boys who cared more about their bands/cars/friends/drug habits than me, but for some reason I thrived on the teenage lust and heartbreak. Why oh why, do we not realize that the Brian Krakow nice boy next door is what's good for us?

Of course, I'm marrying the nice boy. We eventually grow up and learn our lesson. However I think my nice boy still has his Jordan Catalano qualities. I laughed at the car song thing extra hard because even though my fiance Scott is a sweetheart, I have no doubt that if he were a songwriter, there would be more love songs for his car than for me.

And even though I appreciate the nice boy, I've found I still mythologize the bad boy. I was tickled pink when I got the back cover copy for Ballads of Suburbia and it read "...and she fell in love with the gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park...." (Yeah, my book is set in my real-life teenage place). I thought, I did it!!! I created my own Jordan Catalano!!!!

What about you? Did you date or are you attracted to the Dylan McKays and Jordan Catalanos of your high school? What do you think draws us to these bad boys?

Oh and if you want a chance to win an ARC of Ballads of Suburbia and read about the Jordan Catalano I created, I'm running a contest on twitter all week and the deets are here.


Martha Flynn said...

a million teenage girls having the same heartbreaking experience a million times over - how is it possible?? :)

i remember *wanting* to like the "brian" guy and just...not...being able to do it!! my brain wanted me to do it - my brain knew what was good for me - but i just COULDN'T make the smart choice

i know there are theories re: wanting to fix or reform a bad boy, but really the jordans are just friggin HAWT

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Martha, ha ha ha, so true, so true about the hottness!

Alyson Noel said...

Oh, Jordan, Dylan, I know thee well!!

I was a big fan of the artsy, angsty, brooding type--and if they were European-- I was a goner!!

Though somewhere along the line I saw the value of the nice guy and never looked back!!

Though I still love my fictional bad boys!

Kay Cassidy said...

As someone who also married the nice boy, let me just say... Bravo!! Marrying my best friend was the best decision I ever made. :-)

nisha said...

My book that my agent will be pitching soon is called 'My So-Called Bollywood Life.' :-)

God, I wish Indian girls who were brought up in strict families had fun dating stories.

I was studying for the SATs my sophomore year. How lame-o is that? :-)

Great post! :-)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I love MSCL, also One Tree Hill.

Melissa Walker said...

just got the DVD set for my birthday. i'm diving right back into the angst pool. sigh.

i have to admit, i'm marrying the bad boy. but he's reformed! i think...