January 14th, 2014

Jordan Catalano: An Ode to Plaid


Confession: I had been trying to come up with a reason to post about Jordan Catalano, so his Golden Globe win last night was, for me, fortuitous more than it was inspirational, if we’re being honest. Also, let it be stated that I fully understand that Jordan Catalano is not a real person and that Jared Leto is. However, this is about Jordan and Angela; it is not about Jared and Claire.

I talk about the 90s too much. I name drop 90s pop culture, music, TV, and fashion as if these references are both relevant and cute. This was me in the 90s:


Gap shirt. Guess jeans. Naot shoes. MAC Spice on my lips. I apparently knew 90s pop fashion before I knew I knew 90s pop fashion. The strange part is that during the actual 90s, I was the bookish academic. Whenever we “cast” our favorite shows, I was always Andrea Zuckerman or Ross Geller. Always! And I was obviously too much of an Andrea or Ross to ever admit that I really wanted to be Angela Chase.

I don’t think I am over-stating it when I say that if you were a teenager in the 90s, Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano defined you. (OK, also maybe Ricky or Rayanne….but definitely not Sharon or Brian Krakow. Nobody wanted to be Sharon or Brian Krakow until we grew up.) My So-Called Life was this special secret, because even though it lasted only one season, somehow we all saw it. Even a nerdy little loner like me overheard my own plaid-flannel-shirt-wearing Jordan Catalano talking about the show in our high school quad and somehow found a way to watch it.

Somehow, before its untimely cancelation, My So-Called Life told us who to be. And we listened. We all dyed our hair Angela Chase red in order to rebel, we all rolled our eyes at the brainy Brian Krakows, and we all fell in love with the Kurt Cobain knock-offs with the scratchy voices and the after-school bands.

But here’s the trick about Jordan Catalano: he wasn’t that special. He wore the same plaid shirt and corduroy coat as the guy sitting next to me in history, and that’s why we liked him. He sighed a lot, so we could assume some Cobain torture (minus the Converse), and that was all we needed in the 90s: a sigh, a gaze, and a lot of angst. This was before Seth Cohen drew comics or Lonely Boy exploited the upper crust with his lit wit. Back then, we didn’t want the hidden gem with the intellect; we wanted the guy who couldn’t read! Yes. Reminisce on that one, kids. JORDAN CATALANO COULD NOT READ. That’s how he and Angela connect! She discovers his secret and then tutors him! This is the boy we fell in love with!!! This is what the 90s taught us.

And this, dear friends, is how we grew up. Our show got canceled, we stopped dying our hair that same burgundy red, and the boys learned how to read. Everything changed. The artist formerly known as Angela Chase went to college (with me, for what it’s worth) and then grew into deeper roles. I grew out of my Jordan Catalano plaid shirts and then started selling plaid shirts to boys who only knew Jared Leto as the guy from 30 Seconds to Mars.

The stories continue; there is life after cancelation. My show was canceled, but my love affair remains. I will fall for new plaid boys:


And I will take my plaids and mix them up with other prints to keep them wonderland-appropriate:


Sometimes good things are canceled too soon. But somehow everyone finds their place again. My So-Called Life is now a DVD set on my shelf. Claire Danes and Jared Leto now have Golden Globes on their shelves. And my closet, of course, remains lined with plaid shirts. Oh, and sorry, friends, that we haven’t even talked about Doc Martens and my commitment to the babydoll dress-combat boot movement. Here’s what: let’s just hope that Neve Campbell wins something soon so that I can do a tutorial on being Julia Salinger.

Posted at 1:19 am by rachel in: After Wonderland

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