Since I know we’ve got a bunch of new readers this week, just wanted to say hi and say this is my 8th installment of recapping My So-Called Life. Check out the tags/archives to catch up on previous recaps, and be aware that I watch this show in 10-minute installments via illegal YouTube clips. Welcome!
This was one of the episodes that stood out the most in my memory from the show’s original run: Sharon’s dad having a heart attack. The recent Glee with Kurt’s dad being hospitalized was instantly reminiscent of this episode to me, minus Emma Pillsbury running down the halls in her perfect preppy little outfit.
Angela seems a little dazed as she and her mom gather Sharon and her mom’s things to bring to the hospital. Angela doesn’t join her parents when they go comfort Sharon and her mom in the hospital waiting room. I thought they depicted pretty well the annoyingly overbearing need for friends to “do something to help” when something bad has happened to you. Patty’s all “I should stay, Graham”¦because Camille needs me.” When the truth is, Patty needs to stay in order to feel like she’s being helpful.
Graham’s freaking out because he and Sharon’s dad are the same age. He also wonders whether work-related stress contributed to his friend’s heart attack as he calls the potential clients he was supposed to be meeting with. (Side note: Graham uses a pay phone in the hospital! Early 90s woot!) He brings Sharon home after they make the group decision that
she shouldn’t stay home alone while her mom camps out at the hospital. Angela understandably feels awkward, inadequate, and unworthy to truly be there for Sharon now that they’re no longer friends. Unlike her mother, Angela seems to be hesitant to intrude on Sharon with her own need to be helpful.
Sharon goes to school the next day, because what else is she going to do? Oh, what a shock, Generic 90s Boyfriend kind of bails on her at the first sign of trouble. Enter Brian Krackow, who we all know is doomed to be the nice guy (lower case) for the rest of his life. Also, is anyone else confused as to whether Brian is in love with Sharon or Angela? Or does he just love both of the pretty girls that he grew up with?
The next day, Sharon’s mom has a sudden-onset freakout about her husband’s possible death. These are usually the kind of revelations that occur at 2 in the morning in a hospital waiting room, but apparently Camille powered through that danger zone and saved her breakdown for after she’s had some of Graham’s hazelnut torte.
Doesn’t it seem like Sharon’s being a little neglected in all this? Her mom just ships her off to the Chase’s house, where every single Chase is too consumed by their own problems to do much to support her. Then Sharon goes to school, where Generic 90s Boyfriend blows her off and she’s left with Rayanne’s tough love delivered, as always, in the girls’
bathroom. Great rack or no, this is not a good time to be Sharon Cherski.
Angela goes off to cry under the bleachers, only to find that that’s Jordan’s smoking spot. OK, I know Angela is our protagonist, and I do love her, but I found myself feeling smothered on Jordan’s behalf when she waddled up to him, all desperate for a hug with her little crying face. (Hattie = mean.) But anyway, he still gives her a decently-long comforting hug before his stupid friend (for once not holding drumsticks) comes and ruins it. DRUMSTICKS! Get a freaking life. Get a friend other than Jordan.
That night, Graham is having, as far as I can recall, his first drama queen moment, in that he ignores all the traumatized children in his care so he can go upstairs and mope alone in the dark. While Patty, per usual, is a bit smothering when she goes upstairs to find out what’s wrong, Graham pulls the dick move of storming out of the house for seemingly no good reason. He seems to be stressed and unhappy about work. Meanwhile, all the kids downstairs are fighting, and when Patty finds herself alone with poor Brian Krackow, her face pretty much sums up how the rest of us feel.
He’s actually sneaking off to the hospital to spend time with Camille, who has finally gotten some good news about her husband. The surgery was successful, and he is expected to recover. Relieved, Graham heads home and resolves his issues with Patty. Now that he’s stared death in the face, he can’t bear the thought of continuing to plug away at a job he hates.
Patty does the only reasonable thing and fires him. I know where this is going from having watched the show; Graham’s going to follow his passion, which is cooking. Still, watching it now as someone who works at a job I don’t love so that I can contribute to the sizable rent and expenses of my little two-person family, I find this plot point a lot less compelling and inspiring than I did when I was 14.
So all that’s left is for the Angela-Sharon issue to be resolved. Which you know will happen. Confession time! This scene made me sob like a goddamn baby the first time I saw it. Possibly the second time as well, a few years later when MTV ran it again. Now? I’m impressed with the acting, and it’s kind of touching in a nostalgic sort of way. I’d say it holds up.
As is often the case, Angela happens by Brian and his bike in the last moments of the episode. Poor Brian. He seems to understand his place in this little shit show. “She didn’t need me, she just needed anyone.” But Angela disagrees: “No, you’re wrong. I mean”¦I think she needed you.”