“My So-Called Life” finds new life in a new box set

The long lusted-after, dreamed-about and angsted-over My So-Called Life: The Complete Series
DVD box set is here. It’s finally here. I think Rickie’s World Happiness
Dance
is in order
here. Who knows the steps? Geez, where are all the gay boys when you
need them?

The deluxe set by Shout! Factory
includes all 19 episodes from the much-loved landmark show’s one and
only season, as well as a slew of extras. It’s an upgrade and then
some from the first box set, released in 2002. Which, of course, I also
own. But don’t think I haven’t hinted profusely to all my family,
friends and assorted passersby about this new set, since, well, my
birthday is coming right up. What? I’m just being helpful.

Among the box set goodies are a full disc of extras, including
episode commentaries by the cast and crew, an interview with
Claire Danes
, behind-the-scene featurettes about the show’s origins,
characters, music and more, and a full-color book with artwork and linear
notes written by series creator Winnie Holzman, Buffy the
Vampire Slayer
creator Joss Whedon

and comic firebrand Janeane Garofalo. Attention assorted loved
ones: If you are reading, I was not kidding about those hints.

Other than the new features, what
excites me most about the new set is the chance for well-worded nostalgia
by the press who, by and large, embraced the short-lived show with open,
flannel-covered arms. Critics from The New York Times to the Los Angeles Times wrote glowing pieces praising the
series and set.

But in an interview with New York magazine, series coproducer Marshall Herskovitz

dropped a near bombshell about our beloved Angela Chase. Apparently,
he and coproducer Ed Zwick
were thisclose to picking Alicia Silverstone
for the role instead. Now, no offense to Alicia, but thank God.

Luckily, Herskovitz spotted
exactly what made Claire perfect for the role from the start:

“Ed wanted (Alicia), and
I said, ‘This girl is absolutely beautiful, but the Angela I see shivers
back and forth between being beautiful and being really’ — I mean,
Alicia, you know, this is a girl who has been told she’s beautiful
since she’s 5 years old! I just don’t think Angela’s that girl.
Then in walks Claire Danes. And at 13, you know: From one angle, she’s
breathtaking; from another, she’s awkward. We were all terrified of
her. She was very quiet and reserved, and half the things she said were
utterly brilliant and half the things sounded like a 13-year-old.”

Which cuts to what was so amazing
about the show in the first place. It was a series about teenagers that
was, above all else, honest about teenagers. And in that honesty was
true beauty, even if you couldn’t always see it at first. To quote
Angela:

“Sometimes, it seems like
we’re all living in, like, some kind of prison, and the crime is how
much we hate ourselves. It’s good to get really dressed up once in
a while and admit the truth: that when you look closely, people are so
strange and so complicated that they're actually beautiful — possibly
even me.”

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