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'My So-Called Life' nostalgia recap: As much as it hurts

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “Strangers in the House” | Aired Oct 20, 1994

This episode of My So-Called Life begins with Sharon being pulled out of class to receive some terrible news: Her father, Andy, had a heart attack. Angela is stunned and unsure of how to navigate this emergency situation, given that she’s no longer close to her former best friend. So she simply follows her parents instructions as they jump into action to help Sharon and her mom, Camille. While Patty gathers some necessities from the house, Angela literally flashes back to happier childhood times in Sharon’s bedroom—specifically, when Sharon was in pain after getting her tonsils out, and Angela told her to squeeze her hand as much as it hurt.

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At the hospital, Graham waits for news with Sharon and Camille. Graham is especially freaked out by this turn of events, given that Andy is exactly the same age as he is, has no history of heart disease, and has always seemed to be a healthy guy. He and Patty are more outwardly upset than Camille and Sharon, who appear to be in a bit of a daze. Patty suggests Sharon come stay with them for a few days. Sharon pulls her mother aside and attempts to get out of this, but it’s no use.

It’s noticeably awkward when Graham brings Sharon home, and neither she nor Angela is thrilled with this new arrangement. Angela thinks to herself that she wants to hug Sharon and tell her how terrible she feels, but refrains because she thinks she’s somehow lost that right. She settles on going through the motions rather distantly, despite Patty urging her to make more of an effort.

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The next day at school, Sharon is upset that her boyfriend, Kyle, has been MIA in her time of need. This drives her, naturally, straight into the arms of Brian Krakow. He pats her back awkwardly while she sobs, unsure if any of this actually means something. When Angela arrives home from school, Brian is there with Sharon, which seems to make Angela uncomfortable. Patty and Graham aren’t coping any better—he’s phoning it in at work, clearly out of it thanks to the reminder of his own mortality. Meanwhile, Patty is attempting to initiate passionate hospital makeout sessions with little success.

Rayanne finds Sharon crying in the bathroom. When Sharon admits she should be at the hospital even though she finds it upsetting, Rayanne drops everything to find her a ride (with, of course, the oft-mentioned and never seen Tino). Angela is invited to join their hospital trip, but she makes up a lame excuse about being unable to skip bio again. Instead, she goes to cry under the bleachers, where, of course, she finds Jordan Catalano smoking and generally lurking about. “So, you crying or something?” he asks her in his usual romantic way. She tells him what’s going on with Sharon’s dad and he comforts her with a hug—at least, until one of his friends sees them and he pulls back, commenting only with a halfhearted, “That’s rough.”

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Things come to a head at the Chase household. Graham, unable to take it anymore, storms out, destination unknown. Brian is over again, at least until Kyle calls Sharon, and he suddenly loses his appetite for the pizza they just ordered. Angela immediately scolds Sharon for making a date with Kyle, accusing her of using Brian when her boyfriend is not around. Sharon points out that Angela can’t talk since Brian is totally in love with her. Angela scoffs at this, but Sharon points out she heard it from Rayanne, which seems to lend this totally shocking theory some credence in Angela’s mind. Sharon then also storms out.

Camille calls to thank Patty for sending Graham to the hospital to keep her company. She also apologizes for Sharon, saying she just wanted to spend a night in her own bed—which is awkward because Patty hasn’t even realized Sharon is gone. At the hospital, Camille and Graham learn that Andy’s angioplasty was a success and he’s going to be okay. Graham finally returns home to tell Patty the good news, adding that he landed the account they’ve been hoping for at work, but didn’t want it because he feels this makes his career in the copy business permanent. Patty immediately fires him, setting him free to pursue his dreams, perhaps inspired by their reminder that life is short.

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Angela goes to Sharon’s house to drop off her stuff and tells her she’s happy to hear the good news. They finally have a heart-to-heart: Sharon is understandably upset that her father almost died, and Angela seemed to care even less than complete strangers. Angela tearily says she didn’t know what to do because she’d assumed she was the last person Sharon wanted to deal with, but Sharon corrects her, saying she was the only person she wanted to deal with. They cry, talk about how much they miss each other—and, in a heartwarming callback to the flashback, Angela tells Sharon to squeeze her hand as much as it hurts.

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Angela tells Brian that Sharon’s dad is okay. He brushes off the past few days as Sharon just needing a friend, but Angela tells him there’s something about the way he is that made him exactly the specific person Sharon needed. This is definitely the nicest thing Angela has ever said to Brian Krakow, and it seems everyone learned something from Andy’s ordeal.

Best Angela-ism: “There are so many different ways to be connected to people. There are the people you feel this unspoken connection to, even though there’s not even a word for it. There’s the people who you’ve known forever who know you in this way that other people can’t because they’ve seen you change … they’ve let you change.”

Claire Danes Cry-Face Count: Two.

Most Ignorant Teenage Moment: Angela’s chilly treatment of Sharon for most of the episode.

Angst-o-Meter: 8/10 for an actual life-or-death situation.

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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