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'My So-Called Life' nostalgia recap: Daddy issues

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Father Figures” | Aired Sep 15, 1994

This episode of My So-Called Life begins with a flashback to a much younger Angela excitedly greeting her father when he returns home at the end of a work day. This provides startling contrast to the current state of Angela and Graham’s relationship, where she hides in the kitchen with Rayanne and Rickie, seemingly irritated by her father’s mere presence in his own house.

As Graham cooks dinner with Rayanne and Angela, Rayanne, who lacks a father in her own life, is thrilled by this glimpse into father-daughter normalcy. Angela just sneers quietly, unable to trust her father after witnessing him talking to the mystery woman on more than one occasion. This has not gone unnoticed by Graham, who is baffled by Angela’s new attitude toward him and has no idea what he did wrong.

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Patty is dealing with her own father issues—the family printing company is being audited, which terrifies Patty because while she has been responsible for running things the past few years while her father has been ill, she is worried he may not have done everything by the book in the past. Angela’s first reaction upon hearing about the audit is that her parents must have lied, which is a perfect example of the general mood in the Chase household these days.

The next day at school, Rayanne mercilessly teases Angela about how her father is hot. “When someone compliments your parents, there’s like, nothing to say. It’s like a stun gun to your brain,” Angela thinks. Graham only rises higher in Rayanne’s book when he offers her and Angela Grateful Dead concert tickets—the audit is the same day as the concert, and Patty doesn’t want him to go anymore. Rayanne is ecstatic; Angela couldn’t care less. She does, however, use the concert as a conversation starter with Jordan Catalano, who casually suggests she scalp the tickets.

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Naturally, Angela takes Jordan’s terrible advice, which infuriates Rayanne. In another scene that nicely showcases Angela and Rickie’s budding friendship, Rickie asks Angela if she sold the tickets just to have a reason to talk to Jordan, or because she was mad at her father. Angela admits she isn’t sure why she did it. Later, she gets caught snooping in her father’s briefcase, for “proof” to justify her newfound hatred of him. She comes up empty and covers rather poorly, leaving Graham more confused than ever.

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Meanwhile, Patty and her father, Chuck, are not seeing eye-to-eye on how to handle the IRS situation. It becomes very clear that the IRS agent they meet with does not trust Chuck, leading a panicked Patty to offer to simply pay any back taxes owed, a solution her father does not approve of. Tensions escalate when Graham “forgets” to tell Angela she can’t go to the Grateful Dead concert after all until the last minute—as soon as he told Patty about giving the girls the tickets, she forbade it. He eventually admits he intentionally didn’t tell Angela about the change of plans, hoping to get back in her good graces by giving her a cool experience.

When Graham asks Angela for the tickets back, she deflects and flees out the door. Her parents assume she’s off to the concert after all, but she’s actually hiding out in Brian Krakow’s car. Angela knows her dad would be upset to find out what happened with the tickets, which, of course, he does almost immediately—the same block where you live generally isn’t the best hiding place. Graham responds with the silent treatment, which upsets Angela. Oh, how the tables have turned.

Angela attempts to make amends with Rayanne, who is claiming she went to the concert anyway. Rayanne points out to Angela that Graham gifted the tickets to her, too, and while Angela probably gets things like that from him all the time, she doesn’t and it meant a lot to her. Angela tells Rayanne about the mystery woman in an attempt to justify her actions, but Rayanne points out that in the grand scheme of things, Angela should probably be more grateful (pun intended) for her father.

DVD screengrab

Patty and Chuck eventually find something resembling peace themselves. She explains to him that when he asked her to run the business, maybe neither of them fully understood just how much he was asking of her. She misses never questioning him, but now that she must, she can never turn back, even if she hates the new distance between them. Patty explains to Graham that he needs to let Angela push him off the pedestal she placed him on as a young girl because she wishes she had done that much sooner with her own father.

The next day, Graham is fixing the gutter on the house. He fails at an attempt to enlist Brian’s help, causing him to hilariously mutter, “Thanks, I’d like to help you, sir, but I’m too busy picturing your daughter naked!” Probably not inaccurate. After some urging from Patty, he does get help from said daughter. He asks her how much of a profit she made off the tickets, and they tentatively bond over their different tastes in music.

DVD screengrab

Best Angela-ism: “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?”

Claire Danes Cry-Face Count: Half. There’s a glimmer of one when she apologizes to Rayanne, but not the full Monty.

Most Ignorant Teenage Moment: Definitely Angela’s decision to scalp the Grateful Dead tickets. Sigh.

Angst-o-Meter: 4/10. Relatively minor stuff here.

If you’d like to follow along with my recaps, the entire series is available to watch for free on Hulu!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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