Classic Christmas TV episodes: ‘So-Called Angels’ (‘My So-Called Life’)

Show: “My So-Called Life” (Episode 15)

Airdate: Dec. 22, 1994

Overview: Rickie’s getting beat up at home, Angela wants to help him and a homeless guitar-playing girl, Brian’s lonely and Danielle doesn’t know what’s going on (she just lives there). For Claire Danes’ performance (I know she’s still a good actress, but nothing will ever top this), the beautifully melancholy Christmas music, all the great moments I list below and about a dozen others, it’s a classic about trying to do the right thing at Christmastime, or anytime.

Memorable moments:

  • Danielle: “Do we have to keep talking about religion? It’s Christmas!”
  • Graham: “What if that was Brian Krakow with that bruise on his face? That’d be a different story right?” Patty: “Graham, you can’t compare them. I’ve known Brian Krakow since he was 5.” Graham: “I know, so have I. All I’m saying is, should that make a difference?” Patty: “Well, maybe not. But it does.” Graham: “I know.”
  • Angela: “You don’t even know her. I’ve talked to this girl. Mom … she could be me.” Patty: “Oh, don’t say that! How can you say that?” Angela: “Because it’s true.”
  • Brian (to help line): “See, it’s not like I enjoy spending time with my parents or anything. So when they first told me they were going away they asked me if I wanted to go to Denver to my sister and her husband’s house, but I said no, because I thought, you know, it’ll be great. I’ll work on my PSATs; it’ll be like, peaceful. But I just didn’t expect to feel this, like, lonely.”
  • “So what else do you want to know?” “How did you die?”

Trivia: Juliana Hatfield plays the homeless girl. The song she plays here, “Make It Home,” is the first track on the “My So-Called Life” soundtrack.

Schmaltz factor: Through the roof at the end, but it totally earns it. Yes, even that final shot, which would be a groaner in a less-perfect episode.

Verdict: It’s hard to write about “So-Called Angels” without sounding hyperbolic, but this is the best Christmas episode ever, it’s on the short list of the best episodes of “MSCL” (a show where every episode is a classic) and it’s one of the top 20 TV episodes of all time. Maybe top 10. I’m not big on religion in real life, but some of my favorite TV episodes have a spiritual bent like this one. It’s just so beautifully done. That doesn’t validate religion, but, you know, it does validate Christmas.