If pressed to name the most MSCL of My So-Called Life episodes, you would probably have to say “The Zit.” It has it all: insecure Angela and Sharon, the Angela-Rayanne-Sharon frenemy triangle, Rickie struggling to fit in (and being adorable), and one of the biggest tear-jerking endings in television. Even creator Winnie Holzman acknowledged to me that the "ending is very much the show for me in a lot of ways.”
All of which is why I am so grateful to that episode’s director, Victor Du Bois, for giving up some of his Sunday afternoon to share with me his memories of making that pivotal episode.
At the time of this writing, you can stream "The Zit" free from ABC here.
I’ve heard many times from members of the cast and crew that they all felt inspired to do everything they could to bring Winnie’s vision to life, but I think Victor was the first to make me understand the feelings of responsibility felt by many while doing so.
Twenty-five years later there are still some creative decisions that he wished he’d made differently, compromises hashed out to bring everything in on time and on budget. (As a reminder, this episode was shot on at least two separate locations in addition to inside the studio – all on an 8-day shoot.)
In addition to some fascinating insights from the director about how the show was put together, our conversation led to a couple of interesting revelations about “The Zit.” One will, of course, have to wait for the book.
But the other was nearly as surprising to me, and that Victor himself never realized before the love so many people have for this episode. It was a good reminder to all of us that, like most professional creative people, television directors don’t have a lot of time to spend reviewing their work or gauging the audience’s reaction to it online. Often, even before they’ve completed one project, they’re already starting to plan out the next.
“The whole theme of that episode is that we don’t see our value sometimes,” Victor observes. “I tried to honor Winnie’s vision, so if it got through, I’m really, really happy.”
So Beautiful it Hurts’ is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with ABC, The Bedford Falls Co.,or anyone involved with the making or distribution of “My So-Called Life.”