In which the author looks back on the start of this project, and what's been learned...
I can’t believe that today marks one year since I set out to write the history of My So-Called Life. Then again, I can’t believe that in another couple of months we’ll all be celebrating that show’s 25th anniversary. Apparently I’m the opposite of gullible – I have trouble believing anything at all.
That’s not entirely true. I still believe that those 19 episodes continue to mark a brief moment of warmth and clarity in our shared cultural history: a bit of sunlight that once shone – and thanks to the magic of technology, continues to shine – through the extreme greed and backbiting that characterizes so much of our daily lives today. It's as if our humanity was bottled in 1994 and thrown out to sea. It still exists out there...somewhere.
The word I’m scrabbling for here is “empathy,” and My So-Called Life is brimming with it. Throughout my conversations with more than 20 people involved with the production so far, I’ve come to realize there’s a reason for that.
It is because its executive producers, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, two people with a long-standing history of exploring what it is to be human, created a safe harbor for creator Winnie Holzman to work her magic. This atmosphere, in turn, attracted like-minded people to contribute their own talents to the show in front of and behind the camera. The story of how all these different personalities came together to craft a program that has so completely stood the test of time will be the focus of So Beautiful it Hurts: The Making of My So-Called Life.
I’d like to thank Marshall Herskovitz, the first person I approached about this book, for being so gracious when I first emailed him back on June 5, 2018, and all the people who’ve spoken with me since.
I'm especially indebted to Winnie Holzman for speaking with me multiple times by phone. One of the things I'll always remember is hanging up with her, only to receive a text from her a few minutes later asking if we could hop back on the phone again. She'd taken a walk, reflected on something she'd only just realized, and wanted to share this new insight with me. I think it was at that moment that I finally allowed myself to breathe a little easier. If the creator of My So-Called Life was taking this endeavor this seriously, I reasoned, then the idea of such a book couldn't be so crazy after all.
By this time next year I hope to have completed the interview process and be well into writing the book itself. I hope you’ll join me for the ride and offer your own thoughts about this enduring show along the way. Leave them in the comments below, or hop on over to the Facebook page.
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."