Before (and better than) ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘The O.C.’

Gossip Girl may give TV audiences an escapist look at a rarefied, glitzy high-school experience, but for a pure, angst-ridden reminder of an adolescence most of us might recognize, there is My So-Called Life. The short-lived and beloved teen drama that launched Claire Danes’s career was canceled in 1995 after less than a whole season but has since become a cult favorite.

The show follows 14-year-old misfit Angela Chase as she navigates high school, struggles for independence, and deals with a monster crush on the elusive hot guy Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto). Unlike the teen dramas that followed in MSCL’s footsteps (Dawson’s Creek, The O.C.), this show never teetered into melodrama, keeping its focus on the heartbreaking moments of the everyday. A new complete DVD box set including a heartfelt love letter to the show from Danes is available October 30. Perhaps a grungy-flannel-shirt fashion revival will follow.

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Before (and better than) ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘The O.C.’