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Why a Book about ‘My So-Called Life’?

Updated: Mar 24, 2019

In which the author tries to come to grips with 'TV show as Great American Novel.'

Over the last 9 months or so that I’ve been working on this book, I’ve been asked a few times why I chose My So-Called Life to write about, often by people who were involved in its production. The impression I’ve gotten from them isn’t one of ‘Why would someone write a book about this show,’ but rather ‘We all felt at the time that we were creating something really special, but we never realized anybody else who wasn’t on set saw it that way too.’

The program to me has always been the closest anyone has ever come to capturing real-life on screen, large or small. It feels real, like a memory – a quality I’ve never seen duplicated before or since. Simply put, this book is my attempt to understand how this was achieved.

I believe the way I put it to series creator Winnie Holzman is that it’s always struck me as the closest thing we have to the 20th century Great American Novel – it just happened to be televised – and I stand by that.

Since undertaking this project, I feel I've inched a tiny bit closer toward understanding the unique feel of the show. Not surprisingly, some of its DNA may be found in the film that inspired the name of MSCL production company Bedford Falls – It's a Wonderful Life. Another, more significant progenitor is the play at the center of the episode "Betrayal": Our Town. (We'll return to both of these in future posts as well as in the book itself.)

But enough about me, what do you think? If you’re reading this, chances are that My So-Called Life means something to you, too. How did you discover it? What do you think about it today, nearly 25 years after its premiere? Please let me know in the comments here. More of a Facebook person? You can weigh-in there, too. Please just don't ask me about Twitter – I'm rubbish at 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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