Christmas Countdown: My So-Called Life & Gilmore Girls

What is Christmas without some teen angst?

It’s weird for me to think that these episodes only aired about six years apart (“So-Called Angels” on December 22, 1994, and “Forgiveness and Stuff on December 21, 2000) because in my head, they’re from two different eras of television.

My So-Called Life: So-Called Angels (Season 1, Episode 15)

“So-Called Angels” kind of clunky in places, with an angel played by Juliana Hatfield (it was the ’90s, OK?) but Rickie (Wilson Cruz) being kicked out of his house and ending up homeless (although the show doesn’t explicitly state Rickie was kicked out for being gay, that did happen to Cruz when he was a teen). It definitely tries to grapple with a lot in such a short time — religion, homelessness, depression. But OK, Brian (Devon Gummersall) calling the teen helpline and Rayanne (A.J. Langer) turning it into phone sex is pretty hilarious. And also, Rayanne knew that’s exactly what Brian needed, but I will hush about how Rayanne was always incredibly empathetic).

I don’t know how much this works (although Rickie being homeless at least continues to be a factor after this — nothing was solved automatically here) but I appreciate for how much this is kindly intended. It is trying so hard! I still watch it every year.

(You will note I did not mention Claire Danes’ Angela. I love Claire Danes but the older I get, the more I realize Angela is the worst part of this show.)

My So-Called Life is currently available on Hulu. Individual episodes can be purchased elsewhere.

Gilmore Girls: Forgiveness and Stuff (Season 1, Episode 10)

This episode picks up after Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) got into a fight because Rory fell asleep after a dance and didn’t come home (“Nothing happened!” was shouted a lot). Mostly everyone is mad at everyone. Lorelai got disinvited from her parents’ holiday party because her mother, Emily (Kelly Bishop) was mad about the aftermath of the dance. It’s a whole thing (don’t worry — they recap all of this pretty early on). Then Lorelai’s father, Richard (Edward Herrmann) ends up in the hospital and …

Emily and Rory in Forgiveness and Stuff

Gilmore Girls — especially in the first season — could be pretty uneven overall. I do think this is one of the first episodes where it found its voice. All the relationships were still being established, but the differences in how they see the world between Lorelai, Rory and Emily is on good display here. These people love each other but they don’t always know how to show it.

There’s also way too much of the will-they-won’t-they between Lorelai and Luke (Scott Patterson) that was teased for seasons, but even that here is pretty much fun.

I do think as a standalone episode, this works pretty well. It’s most of the good parts of Gilmore Girls and few of the bad. Yes, it leans hard on the quirky as the show always tended to do, but the emotions are there. This is actually one of the few season one episodes I genuinely enjoy.

Gilmore Girls is currently available on Netflix. Episodes are available for purchase elsewhere.