Today marks two years since I began work on “So Beautiful it Hurts: The Making of My So-Called Life,” and what a wild ride it’s been so far. Begun in the relative calm of 2018, I certainly couldn’t have foreseen discussing stay-at-home order with “The Zit” director Victor Du Bois during the COVID-19 crisis, what constitutes success with Winnie Holzman (above), nor writing this entry while much of the country is riven by civil unrest.
School may be a battlefield for your heart, as Angela once observed, but at the moment America is simply a battlefield.
Truthfully it feels frivolous to even be discussing the minutiae of a television show at this moment in history while our nation seems poised on the brink of collapse.
Still, I can’t help feeling that at the heart of this schism between our two Americas lies the lesson that Winnie taught us, consciously or otherwise, 26 years ago with My So-Called Life. It was probably best summed up in “So Called Angels” when Angela switches shoes with Juliana Hatfield’s homeless angel. The message was clear: You shouldn’t judge others until you’ve walked in their shoes. Failure to empathize or appreciate the personal struggles of those around you is, in essence, to live only a “so-called life.”
I want to be hopeful here but it’s difficult when all seems so uncertain. I know there are far more important things going on at the moment than this book. For now, my thanks go out to everyone who has generously shared with me their memories and insights over the course of this project, and to the small but plucky group of “Lifers” who’ve joined me for this journey.
Go now. Go.
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.”