Saturday, September 26, 2009

What is with this "Jordan Catalano" fellow?

I just made my way through all 19 episodes of "My So-Called Life", a 90s teen-aged related television show that was rather well done but managed only a short life over an expansion of two years. The show aired from 94-95 and only produced 19 episodes. The show centered around 14-year-old Angela Chase played cleverly by Claire Danes and all the conflicts in her life. I won't get too detailed on what the show was about but the show was very realistic compared to many television shows I have ever watched. There is always a dramatic scent upon each show, but MSCL never once felt like you were watching a TV show. Many of the conflicts that arose throughout the episodes were never resolved and usually things would come to be more complicated than originally derived which was caused by the characters involved. The dialogue was not neat or clear, in fact "like" is among the show's favorite words. And "like" is very common for teenagers to use. Same goes for "I don't know", we like that one too. My concern is not with the show, but with the character "Jordan Catalano".

In the pilot episode, we find Angela to be confused and harboring a crush with silent "Jordan Catalano". Weirdly enough, I thought it to be typical to crush on him, he was cute, older, and vastly different from her. As the show progressed, he was quickly established as the character that was more discussed than seen which became annoying for me. Jordan only uttered several sentences in one episode, and they were not anything profound. It was merely a "hey", or something that was completely irrelevant to anything. Among his lack of expression, he could not read because he was dyslexic, which was nice to learn something about him, but they never really acted on it. His condition was brought up and discussed briefly, but that was as far as the story line went. Halfway through, I was wondering why so many people were commenting on how great Jordan was... I didn't see what made him so wonderful. He never said anything, he never did anything, and Angela was infatuated but he seemed hardly interested. So, I came to two conclusions about why people love "Jordan Catalano"...

One: Because he is played by Jared Leto and if you are a fan of his you pretty much love anything he is in. I did not like "Jordan Catalano" at all. I love Jared Leto. He is a wonderful actor and musician. I love him in "The Last of the High Kings" as an Irish boy named Frankie in the 70s. American Psycho, Requiem for a Dream, and Urban Legend. He's played some great
characters. I love 30 Seconds to Mars too, I have both their albums and listen to them often. I realize the man is gorgeous, he has amazing eyes. I will say the long hair and black eyeliner does not look great on him. I like him with short hair and no make-up. In fact, I don't really like make-up on anyone, I believe natural beauty is much richer.

Two: These people are idiots. I know this is a mean statement, but face it, the only time Jordan became a real character was by the final episode. He started expressing himself to others. He didn't do this to Angela because I think there was a fear of losing her permanently so he got Brain Krakow to help him. That idea was not smart and makes me not like him worse. I know he can't write or read well, but really why make Brian write the total letter solely, shouldn't Brian have helped him instead? Jordan had the capabilities to do it but he didn't! It's like he's trying to get her through a false pretense. So not the right thing, Angela is very smart and beautiful and I think she did not deserve it. Ultimately, if the show had continued, it would have been wonderful to see Jordan as he truly is, no evasive stoner-like methodology, okay? He would have had a great developing character, too bad he did not get the chance!

The obvious idea of Jordan Catalano was the "fantasy" character. Angela had this idea of who this guy was in her head. He was beautiful and exactly what she wanted because she didn't even know the real him. Many crushes develop this way and the fantasy gets washed away when the dreamer finds the fantasy in their minds hardly to be the person they are crushing on. I think it happened to Angela as she attempted to get closer to Jordan, but he wasn't as she imagined for so long. He did some unforgivable things and it added up to her love turning to hate. Jordan comes to find he loves Angela and I think the reason behind it is because she is very different from any girl he had been with. She has standards and cares for him, wants to know things that he would never share with others. But none of this is actually admitted, just several hints in different episodes. Clearly, the fan fiction world lives on past the short life of the show. Speaking of, I'll have to look into some. To clear it up, I don't hate Jordan, how he was on the show bugged me and in many ways I don't think he deserved Angela's attention or love. But I can see where they cared about each other. I may feel different if more of the show had been produced and had seen where the characters would have gone.

Somehow, I would like to believe that Angela would not end up with either Jordan Catalano or Brian Krakow because Jordan was too different from her and Brian was too selfish most of the time. Brian was more on her level as a person, but I don't think it could work, there could have been dating. Especially if she knew he wrote that letter to her which she finds out in the last ten minutes of the final episode.

The show ended in a cliffhanger because they were unaware if they would get picked up for more, but it did not. If you haven't seen "My So-Called Life", I recommend it because it's very about day-to-day life and dealt with every day problems. Watch out for Angela's little sister, Danielle, and her funny one-liners.

1 comment:

  1. Just to clarify here, Jordan is the character that MADE Jared Leto a star. The show got critical acclaim and developed a devout fanbase but it aired up against "Seinfeld" and another then-brand new show you may have heard of: "Friends." Ratings were low, so ABC unceremoniously canceled it (these days internet buzz might've been able to keep it alive, but the net was in its infancy in '95 -- I did not mean for that to rhyme).

    Six months after it was canceled, MTV began airing reruns of the show. If not for that, "My So-Called Life" probably would've faded into total obscurity like so many other brilliant but canceled shows. Suddenly the show was a massive hit (there was talk of new episodes for MTV but it never happened) and the cast all became media darlings. Unlike the rest of the cast, Leto really rode that wave of publicity and got offered several meaty roles. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    Although I've got the whole series on tape, I've only watched it a couple times since ABC canceled it all those years ago. But going off memory, I think the appeal of Jordan was that he was the mysterious bad boy. And as you said, it's easy to create a fantasy man out of a guy (or TV character) you know so little about.