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Interview: My So-Called Life’s Jenifer Catalano – The Woman Behind the Name

In the history of My So-Called Life, there is one person who impacted the series greatly, yet of whom very little is actually known: Jenifer [sic] Catalano. Without her, the world would have been deprived of the musical-sounding “Jordan Catalano,” as well as the phrase “Generation Catalano” which has come, in some circles, to stand for an entire demographic. I am indebted to Jenifer for taking time out of her Friday afternoon to speak with me about this unusual experience.

I was particularly grateful to hear her memories of co-producer Scott Winant who, as director, brought us some of the most ambitious episodes of the series, including the pilot. While many of those I’ve spoken with have sung Scott’s praises to me as both a director and a human being, Jenifer, who worked closely with him for several years as his assistant, further offered some insights into what dove him creatively during the time she worked with him – insights that were invaluable.

(For those who've forgotten their MSCL lore, the name of Angela's obsession originally boasted another Italian surname, but Winant had so much trouble pronouncing it that creator Winnie Holzman changed it on the spot to "Catalano".)

As for the appropriation of her name for Jordan, now as then, she takes it all in her stride. As she told me, while it may seem a big deal to lovers of MSCL, she’s since come to realize that others don’t quite get it. When once asked in a focus group what her “claim to fame” was, she relayed the story to those present, to which came the reply “Jordan who?”

She also confided with a chuckle that when her son Nick was born, she briefly toyed with the idea of naming guessed it ;)

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.”




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