All the episodes of the 1994 short-lived one-season series My So-Called Life are on Hulu.com, and I spent the last few weeks watching through them in my down time. I’m the same age as Angela Chase (and nine days older than Claire Danes) and now that I’ve watched it again I remember the show vividly. I wasn’t sure I’d remember it, but it turns out there are some episodes I can practically recite by heart. Like Pressure and all those scenes in the boiler room? “The whole world is separated into kissing … and not kissing … kissing … and not kissing.” “My lips feel used, but, like, in a good way.”
I miss these characters now that I watched through the 19 episodes. I have lots to say about the parental relationship, Graham’s masculinity, the character arcs and some of the slightly more experimental attempts at episodes, the infamous lean by Jordan Catalano (“you’re so beautiful, it hurts to look at you”), Jordan’s masculinity … oh there’s so much.
But what I want to write on here, real quick, is Ricky, and his finale.
If you haven’t seen it, revealing that Ricky is gay is not giving anything away. You’ll know from the first episode. The other characters know, too, but they never say it directly. Sometimes they say Ricky likes boys, sometimes Ricky confesses a crush, but he never comes right out and says it. There’s some talk of Ricky being put up at Pride House after he is kicked out of his house (presumably because of his sexuality) by his aunt and uncle, who raised him. But he never comes out and says it.
Until the very last episode, in this exchange with Delia, a straight girl. Earlier in the episode, it goes through the grapevine that Delia has a crush on Ricky, eventually getting back to him. He says (I’m paraphrasing), what if this is my chance? What if this is my chance to be normal? What if this is my chance to have a normal life? And he decides to ask her out.
The embedded video is below. I couldn’t get a clip of just the one part, sorry. I do urge you to watch the series from the beginning – if you watch this whole clip it’ll give some things away! This is the last episode, after all.
This clip starts at 34:58.
Ricky: Delia? Um, maybe we should um, go somewhere sometime.
Ricky: You know like, to a movie, or something.
Delia: I’d like that.
Ricky: Because um, I really think we’d be … good together.
Delia: Okay … but, you’re gay, right?
Ricky: Well, you know, I …
Delia: Oh I’m sorry!
Ricky: No, it’s okay.
Delia: That came out so rude.
Ricky: I try not to um … I don’t like uh … yeah, I’m gay. I just don’t usually say it like that.
Delia: How do you usually say it?
Ricky: I don’t usually say it. I’ve actually never said it, out loud.
Delia: Wow. I feel kind of honored.
I’m pretty sure I actually teared up and said awwwwww! to my computer screen, because, come on, that is such an awesome way to have dealt with this moment. Ricky struggles so much with fitting in, with feeling like he belongs, with finding somewhere that he’s accepted, and his struggles just kept breaking my heart over and over. And I just love how this was done. So much acceptance, so much care.