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'My So-Called Life' nostalgia recap: This has been a test

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Why Jordan Can’t Read” | Aired Oct 6, 1994

After a few weeks without much mention of it, this episode of My So-Called Life gets back to the Jordan Catalano and Angela of it all. “Love is when you look into someone’s eyes and all of a sudden you go all the way inside, to their soul, and you both know, instantly,” Angela muses. She has decided, however, that she’s totally over Jordan, which (naturally) means it’s time to write a five-page letter explaining every feeling she’s ever had about him.

She shows the letter to Rayanne during a school field trip at a museum. But she never wants Jordan to actually see it, and asks that Rayanne not show it to anyone, dumbly believing her when she agrees not to. What could go wrong?

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The answer is a lot, almost immediately. Rayanne gets distracted by a cute security guard and loses Angela’s letter in the museum. Meanwhile, Angela is actually having a conversation with Jordan, mostly about his band. Her excitement is quickly ended when Rayanne ‘fesses up. Nervous that he may have seen the missing letter, Angela confronts Jordan at school the next day. He beats her to the punch and returns it to her. Angela immediately launches into an elaborate, horrible, hilarious lie about how the note was really about a boyfriend from last summer who’s dead now and she just used Jordan’s name for fun. When Jordan says he only read parts of it, Angela doesn’t believe him. She’s being hostile, he’s visibly upset, and she finally puts it together—Jordan can’t read. He confirms her guess, adding that he’s never told anyone before.

Jordan invites Angela to see his band, the Frozen Embryos, rehearse. Angela dramatically tells Rayanne that something she can’t explain has happened between her and Jordan and she understands him in a way she didn’t even know existed now. She refuses to tell Rayanne and Rickie Jordan’s secret, and keeps it vague about exactly what happened to bring them closer. Rayanne is delighted that her complete screw-up with the letter has somehow worked out.

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At the band practice, which lacks much actual music or practicing, Angela, Rayanne, and Rickie hang out on the sidelines as Jordan plays a song he told Angela about at the museum. “She’s my shelter from the storm, she’s a place to rest my head … I call her Red,” Jordan sings mournfully. Rickie and Angela think the song is clearly about her, and Angela is on top of the world. Later, Jordan drives Angela home. She suggests he might have dyslexia, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. He does, however, kiss her, and this time it’s sweet and romantic and kind of perfect, unlike their previous car kissing disaster.

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Angela’s got it bad—she’s drinking coffee, humming, giggling, and singing Jordan’s “Red” song to herself. She abruptly asks her parents if she’s allowed to go on dates, forcing Patty to make up some ground rules on the spot, including that she and Graham must meet the guy first. At school, Angela tells Rickie how magical her moment with Jordan was, and his quiet longing and jealousy makes it clear that Angela isn’t the only one to have a crush on Jordan Catalano. Aww. He gives her a tip as to Jordan’s schedule so she can “accidentally” run into him in the hallway. She awkwardly invites him to meet her parents that night so they can go to a movie over the weekend, and he accepts.

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As Angela and her parents wait for Jordan to arrive, Brian Krakow, who has been trying to “borrow a book” as an excuse to get face time with Angela, is horrified to hear of her choice in dates. “I don’t disapprove. I’m just sickened,” he says, criticizing Angela’s uncharacteristic wardrobe choices for the occasion. It’s a disaster, though—Jordan blows off the plan, lingering at band practice for no particular reason, and Angela attempts to hide her disappointment from her parents before collapsing into a pile of tears on her bedroom floor.

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Meanwhile, Patty and Graham have their own drama in the form of a pregnancy scare. It turns out to be a false alarm, which is a huge relief to Patty and a bit of a disappointment to Graham, who quickly became attached to the possibility of finally having a son. Instead, he has to settle for playing the occasional game of catch with Brian Krakow.

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At school, Rickie suggests Angela should hear Jordan’s side of why he blew her off, but she’s not interested in seeing or talking to Mr. Catalano ever again. Rickie tells Jordan that Angela is upset, and he mentions being a little freaked out by the concept of meeting her parents, then comments that Angela “makes a big deal out of everything.” Rickie brings up the “Red” song, and a confused Jordan says the song is about his car. Oh, men.

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Patty brings Angela some cookie-dough ice cream for her heartbreak. She tells her oldest daughter about her pregnancy scare, which Angela finds absolutely hysterical. Brian comes by and not-so-casually asks for a Jordan update. Angela says she’s never speaking to Jordan again, and once more accuses Brian of being incapable of understanding because he’s never been in love. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—poor Brian.

Best Angela-ism: “This life has been a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do.”

Claire Danes Cry-Face Count: One. Ugh, Jordan.

Most Ignorant Teenage Moment: Angela’s continued obliviousness about Brian Krakow’s feelings for her is extra out of control this week.

Angst-o-Meter: 6/10.

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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