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'My So-Called Life' nostalgia recap: The guide to better loving

Season 1 | Episode 13 | “Pressure” | Aired Dec 1, 1994

This episode of My So-Called Life begins with Jordan Catalano attempting to teach Angela how to drive his car. She’s terrible, and crashes into something (just a little bit), but he doesn’t seem to care and even rewards her with a kiss.

Mid-makeout session, he asks, “How long are we supposed to keep doing this?” “This”—because he’s a boy—means only making out. Angela is visibly and understandably apprehensive about the question. At school, Rayanne tells her that everyone knows Jordan and Cynthia Hargrove used to bang, which does not help Angela’s anxiety.

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All of this talk is giving Angela a bit of a one-track mind. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it—the, like, fact of it. That people had sex. That they just had it. That sex was this thing people had. Like a rash, or a rottweiler,” she thinks as she walks through the halls at school. Meanwhile, Patty and Graham are also thinking about sex, specifically if their daughter might be having it in the car they know Jordan has. “When you said what else they could be doing, did you mean like foreplay?” Danielle asks innocently, shocking her parents. The Chases agree they must meet the mysterious Jordan Catalano.


Jordan shows up at Angela’s house late at night in a scene straight out of her dreams that makes her giddy. He asks her to go to a “sex house” (an abandoned house in town that the kids use for such activities) with him on Friday night. “Breaking and entering?” she asks. “Just entering,” Jordan says, with as much subtlety as a heart attack. Patty comes downstairs and Angela is barely able to keep her from seeing Jordan, but can’t prevent him from overhearing Patty’s comments about this guy Angela likes. He teases her about liking him, and it’s pretty adorable.

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Angela decides to talk to Sharon, asking her why she broke up with Kyle. When Sharon says it had to do with not wanting to give up her beliefs, Angela assumes her friend is still a virgin. Sharon, however, quickly corrects her and lets her know that is certainly not the case; the belief in question was that Kyle is just a butthead. Angela is surprised and saddened by this news, feeling like the difference in experience has created an insurmountable divide between her and her former best friend.


Flash-forward to Friday night, and Patty is stuck at work while Graham has dinner at the house with Hallie from his cooking class and her fiancé, Brad. Jordan arrives to pick up Angela for their sex-house date, and ends up awkwardly meeting the three of them. Angela makes a bunch of excuses, hoping her father will forbid her from going with Jordan, but she is not so lucky. They arrive at the sex house, and couples are in various stages of hooking up everywhere.

The two sit in awkward silence while waiting for a room to become empty. Rayanne appears and is shocked to see Angela there, and Angela quickly spins a lie about having to go after Rayanne to get out of the situation. When Patty returns home, she can’t believe she missed Jordan. Graham struggles to describe him but Hallie takes over, calling him a “stray puppy” but “trouble, way too gorgeous.” Also, Hallie wants to open a restaurant with Brad and hire Graham to cook for it, which is both an exciting and stressful prospect to him.

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After hearing what happened with Jordan, Sharon shows Angela an “intimacy” video called the “Guide to Better Loving” that she stole from her parents. Naturally, this tape is then accidentally found by Graham, and later by Rickie and Brian Krakow. Angela borrows Brian’s bike to go to Jordan’s to apologize. He’s upset because he knows she lied about why she had to leave and says this is the reason he “didn’t want to start this.” He tells her she doesn’t get it, and “it” is what she’s supposed to do—unless she’s abnormal. Jordan seems to regret his words, but doesn’t go after her when she walks away.

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Later, as Graham lies on the couch, unseen by Angela, he overhears as she talks to Brian Krakow about sex and how it’s sad that boys only care about getting you into bed. “Is that, like, a problem you’re having?” Brian asks lamely. Graham laughs silently when they agree that they both think about sex all the time. It’s probably the nicest bonding moment Angela and Brian have ever had.

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As Brian leaves, Jordan shows up to return the bike Angela left at his house, which Patty witnesses. Angela and Jordan proceed to make their breakup official. She compares having sex to driving his car—she felt like she wasn’t ready. Jordan says he won’t hold it against her “if her name ever comes up.” Angela makes a weird, confusing, dramatic metaphor about life being a flat circle and sex being like death. Jordan says that at least she got in some driving practice, and cautions her not to take her turns too wide—although he’s sure she won’t.

“Sometimes someone says something really small, and it just fits right into this empty place in your heart,” Angela thinks sadly. She begins to cry and they say goodbye, kissing one final time. Graham, still unseen by Angela, is stunned and moved and, surely, pretty proud of his daughter. As Angela rides her bike around the neighborhood later, embracing the youth she chose to hold on to, she seems content with her decision.

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Best Angela-ism: “People always say how you should be yourself. Like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster or something. Like you know what it is, even. But every so often, I’ll have, like, a moment when just being myself, and my life, like, right where I am, is, like, enough.”

Claire Danes Cry-Face Count: One.

Most Ignorant Teenage Moment: Jordan telling Angela she’s supposed to have sex unless she’s abnormal. Sigh.

Angst-o-Meter: 7/10. The breakup scene in particular is heartbreaking.

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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