Monday, September 21, 2009

My So-Called LIfe

Over the last few months, Mimi, Jen, and I have been on Hulu, working our way through the one and only season of the charming and poignant television drama, “My So-Called Life,” starring the transcendent Claire Danes as 15 year-old Angela Chase and heartthrob Jared Leto as the object of her adolescent infatuation, Jordan Catalano.

Aside from moving me to tears at some point in nearly every episode with a touching moment of teen angst, or parental love, or spousal (mis)communication, the show also got me wondering philosophically from time to time, making me think it could be a good candidate for one of those Philosophy and Popular Culture series books, the ones like that take some pop phenomenon like the Simpsons or Seinfeld or Lord of the Rings, or even the Atkins Diet and use it to inspire a bunch of articles that raise philosophical questions and/or issues of some sort.

I would want to write a piece about how the relations among characters in My So-Called Life inspires an interrogation of the mind-body problem, specifically the relationship between an immaterial consciousness and the material human physical form.

This was most clearly explored, I think, in the final episode, where—in an obvious nod to the play Cyrano de Bergerac—geeky nerd Brian Krakow writes a love letter to Angela for (that is, from) Jordan which Angela doesn’t just like, she loves. And yet, in the final scene, when she learns it’s actually from Brian’s “soul,” she still drives off with Jordan’s body, which has me surmising that a case could be made that the show’s creators are somewhat ambivalent about their position on the issue.

On the one hand, they seem to recognize that there can exist an attraction between our immaterial “selves” (whether these be minds or souls) but they also admit that, as physical beings, there’s no denying that we can’t help being drawn to specific bodies, no matter what’s inside them or not.


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