My So-Called Life: 10 Best Episodes, Ranked by IMDb | ScreenRant

My So-Called Life seemed like a sure-fire hit when it debuted for its first season in 1994. The show was celebrated for its realistic portrayal of teen life and the goings on of American high-school students in the 1990s. Unfortunately, it suffered low ratings despite being a critical darling, and it was canceled after one season, leaving fans wanting more even a quarter of a century after it was taken off the air.

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The series launched the careers of several famous actors such as Claire Danes and Jared Leto, and it is widely regarded as one of TV's best one-season wonders. Though all of the episodes were well received, some garnered higher scores on IMDb.

10 Episode 13, "Pressure" - 8.6

Though many shows have tackled the issues of teenage sexuality before, few did it with the same finesse as the episode "Pressure" from My So-Called Life. Angela feels pressured by her boyfriend Jordan to have sex before she is ready and it puts a strain on their relationship.

What sets the episode apart from other show's attempt to tackle the subject is that it doesn't moralize the situation. The episode explores Angela's feelings and doesn't attempt to make a broad statement about teenage sexuality in general. Without being preachy, the show tells a compelling story that also happens to deal with a complicated issue.

9 Episode 10, "Other People's Mothers" - 8.6

The teen drama format has traditionally revolved around the character's lives in school and My So-Called Life is no exception. However, the episode "Other People's Mothers" sees Angela dealing with conflict within her family unit, away from her life in school. Angela would rather be at a friend's party instead of visiting her grandmother and this causes a rift with her mother.

The episode is strong because it doesn't portray its main character as perfect. Angela, because of her youth, is unable to see the value in visiting her family and she would rather be with her friends. Also, the subplots deal with heady topics without resorting to cheesy melodrama.

8 Episode 15, "So Called Angels" - 8.6

One of the most interesting things about My So-Called Life was that intriguing elements of the supernatural were subtly introduced throughout. "So Called Angels" finds Ricky experiencing homelessness around the Christmas holiday. Angela tries to help him and is assisted by a mysterious girl she has never seen before.

Despite only lasting one season, the series featured a classic Christmas episode during its run. The episode shines because it manages to balance the holiday elements with a typical storyline for the series and doesn't stray too far from its format to accommodate the holiday.

7 Episode 7, "Why Jordan Can't Read" - 8.6

Some episodes combined storylines to throw a lot of complicated issues at the viewer all at once. In "Why Jordan Can't Read", Angela learns that Jordan can't read and attempts to help him with it. Also, Patty worries that she may be pregnant.

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The issues in the episode have been tackled by previous shows such as Degrassi, however, My So-Called Life deftly balances the two issues and never falls into preachy melodrama. The show manages to be sensitive about the issues and gives the characters dignity instead of judgment as they navigate their respective problems.

6 Episode 1, "The Pilot" - 8.6

The premiere episode of My So-Called Life served to introduce Angela and establishes the friendships that would last throughout the season. Also, the episode sows the seeds of conflict with her mother that would play out throughout the entire series.

The episode is a strong introduction and it is thoroughly enjoyable for viewers to meet the characters and see the show get off the ground. Without tipping their hand, the writers cleverly introduce conflicts in the first episode that play out in the long run throughout the season. The pilot episode manages to be both a standalone story and a great intro to the series.

5 Episode 6, "The Substitute" - 8.7

High school dramas are best when they can serve as a microcosm of the outside world. "The Substitute" sees the arrival of a substitute teacher who uses unconventional teaching methods that leads to the publication of a student's racy poem.

The episode touches on teenage freedom and the broader ideas of freedom of speech in general. Though the story is only a temporary episode in the lives of the characters, it does a lot to show their growth. The student's fight for autonomy is, by extension, a commentary on life outside of school as well.

4 Episode 12, "Self Esteem" - 8.8

While several of the episodes of My So-Called Life deal with big issues, "Self Esteem" focuses on smaller interpersonal conflicts. Jordan and Angela's relationship escalates but it is clear that he doesn't want anyone to know that they are an item.

The episode is highly regarded because it shows just how important the smaller conflicts are to the characters and gets the audiences invested in them as well. Though the scale of the issue is small, it touches on larger issues of confidence and the importance of perception, especially to teenaged characters who aren't mature enough to fully understand them.

3 Episode 17, "Betrayal" - 8.8

My So-Called Life was revolutionary because it proved that it was willing to take risks with its characters. "Betrayal" sees Angela's friendship with Rayanne shattered when she sleeps with Angela's boyfriend Jordan.

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Introduced in the pilot, Angela's friendship with Rayanne was the spine of the entire series and the decision to fracture it made for great television. Many similar teen dramas follow a formula that introduces conflict on an episodic basis and characters are in the same place at the end that they started in. However, "Betrayal" showed that My So Called Life was willing to go beyond that structure and introduced ongoing conflict.

2 Episode 19, "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" - 8.9

Though My So-Called Life was canceled after only one season, the finale established new plot lines that would have played out in subsequent seasons. Several characters have strange dreams while Jordan attempts to win Angela back by enlisting Brian to help him write a letter of apology.

The final episode is strong because of what might have been. The episode leaves the show on a cliffhanger and left many new plot threads unresolved. Ignoring the fact that these loose ends would never be tied up, the final episode is  exceptionally well-written and manages to weave many storylines together deftly.

1 Episode 11, "Life Of Brian" - 9.1

While most of the episodes focused on Angela, "Life Of Brian" takes an entirely different perspective. The episode follows Brian as his entire life is thrown for a loop by the upcoming school dance. He is torn between his long-standing crush on Angela and the arrival of a new student whom he likes as well.

Though the show is ostensibly Angela's story, "Life Of Brian" was a refreshing change of pace in the middle of the season. The episode dove deep into the mind of a supporting character and gave the viewer a rare chance to see both sides of an emotional crush. By narrowing the focus of the episode, the episode could drill down on specific issues in a clever way.

NEXT: 10 Best Forgotten Teen Shows Of The '90s 

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