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

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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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