As underrated ‘90s teen dramas go, My So-Called Life was perhaps the peak. Coming out in 1994, and running for just one season, the show starred a young Claire Danes as conflicted teen Angela Chase. The show was well ahead of its time, exploring themes like homophobia, school violence, sex, drugs, and child abuse. Themes that other shows of its ilk would take years to fully explore.
The short-lived show was canceled after poor ratings, despite critical acclaim, and ended on a cliffhanger. Over the years there has been talk of remaking or reimaging the show, but nothing has ever really come of it. Still, this remains one of the most influential and iconic teen drama shows of the 1990s, and it paved the way for the likes of Dawson’s Creek and The O.C.. Here is a look at some of the things you always wanted to know about this iconic teen show.
Alicia Silverstone almost got the lead
In many ways, this could be seen as the show that made Claire Danes the actress she is today and was responsible for launching her career. But, how different could it all have been had she never bagged the part of Angela in the first place? Well, this is very nearly what happened, as originally Alicia Silverstone auditioned for the part and impressed producer Edward Zwick. Zwick was close to casting the then-unknown Clueless actress, but co-producer Marshall Herskovitz convinced him she was too pretty to pull off such a shy, conflicted teenager. 13-year-old Danes then auditioned, impressing everyone, and winning the role.
Rickie Vasquez was TV’s first openly LGBT teen
TV has been a rocky road for those in non-conforming relationships. It wasn’t until 2000 with Dawson’s Creek that two men passionately kissed on-screen for the first time. Since then we have, thankfully, progressed to much more on-screen relationship diversity. However, back in the early-mid ‘90s, it was just My So-Called Life’s Rickie Vasquez who was carrying the torch. As American network television’s first openly LGBT teen, he was an icon for many out there.
Jared Leto was nearly never in the show
We love Jared. Is there anything the guy can’t do? Actor. Musician. Academy Award-winner. He is one of the most versatile and gifted stars of his generation, and the show was enhanced by having him in the role of Jordan Catalano. But, did you know, he was almost never in the show?! Indeed, the young Leto was actually planning on going to art school, not to mention the character was only ever supposed to be in the pilot.
It was filmed at a real high school
Unlike most high school shows, where a set is built to resemble the school for ease of filming, My So-Called Life was actually filmed at a real high school. The school in the show is called Liberty High School and is based in Pittsburgh. But, in reality, the school used for filming was University High School in Los Angeles. Filming actually took place during the school year, meaning some actual classes were moved to other parts of the school. You might recognize the school from being used in other shows such as Arrested Development.
So these are just a few of the great things we bet you never knew about My So-Called Life. The show is widely revered and was definitely canceled far too early. And just think how different the show could have been if some of the elements had gone down the way they were originally supposed to.