"Sometimes, someone says something really small, and it just fits into this empty place in your heart..." So sayeth Angela Chase (a.k.a., Claire Danes), heroine of the infamously short-lived '90s teen drama My So-Called Life , in one of her many "like"-peppered voiceover narrations — accompanied, as usual, by a crumply faced proto-cry. Though at the time she was talking about Jordan Catalano's oddly poignant mid-breakup driving advice, it's a sentiment that could also be applied to any of her own eminently quotable dialogue — those defining nuggets of teen wisdom that somehow articulated the hard-to-reach corners of your brain better than you ever could.
Of course, there are plenty of ways in which My So-Called Life and its so-called life lessons are irredeemably retro — the angst! the vests! — but for every moment that sends a baggy plaid-coated pang through your chest, there are just as many that are still 100 percent applicable 20 years later. I mean, just for starters, "You're so beautiful, it hurts to look at you" is now my personal aesthetic standard, and I could nigh write a graduate thesis on the twice-repeated exchange "Why are you like this?" "Like what?" "Like how you are" alone.
But in the interest of whittling down the scope of this celebratory inquiry — i.e., not just posting a transcript of every single episode threaded through with exclamation points — let's focus on a handful of Angela's most snap-worthy inner monologue insights. Because if you're like me, these are the lines that, consciously or not, forever shaped the way you think about romance and friends and parents and, yes, the virtues of a good dye job.
Join me in a series of empathetic sighs, below:
"What I, like, dread is when people who know you in completely different ways end up in the same area. And you have to develop this, like, combination you on the spot."
Especially pertinent in one's post-college years — balancing coworkers with drinking buddies, mitigating Sharons and Rayannes. (Side note: Their latter-day friendship/sex talk is maybe one of my favorite relationships on the show, second only to Brian and Ricky.)
"Huge events take place on this earth every day. Earthquakes, hurricanes — even glaciers move. So why couldn't he just look at me?"
I.e., the refrain I psychically beam at each of my fantasy subway paramours.
"If only there were a button somewhere that I could push to force me to stop talking."
Speakin' truths a full decade before Cady Heron's word-vomit crisis. And on a similar note...
"You know how sometimes the last sentence you said, like, echoes in your brain? And it just keeps sounding stupider? And you have to say something else just to make it stop?"
This sums up maybe 78 percent of everything I've ever said out loud.
"There's something about Sunday night that really makes you want to kill yourself."
Melodramatic, yes, but as far as I know, there's no better summation of that listless dread that pools in the hours prior to Monday morning.
"I thought, at least, by the age of 15, I would have a love life. But I don't even have a like life."
Swap in "by the age of 22," and I am right there with you, sister. But, for the fallow times...
"My entire life became divided into kissing...and not kissing...
Kissing...and not kissing."
Ah, the boiler room episode — a nuanced and appropriately complex exploration of what's healthy in a relationship and what's not and what's still totally tempting nonetheless. My personal favorite takeaway: Angela's righteous insistence that Jordan not interrupt her by imposing his face on hers (because, I mean, what a face; that takes some serious willpower).
And, speaking of which...
"It was the perfect moment for him to kiss me. For him to anything me."
Note, also, in the lead-up to this line, her appreciation for "the feel of his shirt against my elbow, the fact that I still had an elbow." No one will ever crush harder or purer than Angela Chase. Period.
"Sometimes it seems like we're all living in 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 really look closely, people are so strange and so complicated that they're actually...beautiful." Someone pass me every Kleenex ever, please — also, a matching curtain-print dress set, stat.
"People alway say you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster or something. Like you can know what it is, even."
"But every so often, I'll have, like, a moment, when just being myself, in my life, right where I am, is, like, enough." And yes, these moments are most apt to occur while bicycling off into the distance.
"So when Rayanne Graff told me my hair was holding me back, I had to listen. Because she wasn't just talking about my hair. She was talking about my life."
Never, ever underestimate the power of a good friend's advice — or, more importantly, a good makeover (I type, sporting a slightly more electric shade of Crimson Glow).
And finally, while it's not quite a monologue quote, I will never empathize harder with a fictional character, quite literally ever, than I do with Angela's "I was finally over him" dance to the Violent Femmes: