Hyper Consciousness

by

“Life of Brian” although an atypical episode, shines a light on the structure of My So-Called Life by switching the perspective from Angela to Brian. It highlights how incredibly self-conscious the characters are, how incredibly important they find all of their actions to be. The show really captures what it’s like to be a teenager and have something as a dance seem so important, to feel so embarrassed when things go badly, even though no one is watching or cares nearly as much as you. And MSCL’s genius is that it actually makes these trivial things important to other people by having them happen to characters on a show, to make the inner monologue a voice over. The show is so heartbreakingly relatable, and it so justifies all of the characters’ suspicions by putting them on TV.
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My favorite scene in “Life of Brian” is the one where Brain Krakow is examining slides on a microscope and Delia walks in. I think the show is very clever about shifting power dynamics, specifically in this episode, and even more specifically in this scene. Brian Krakow is always rude when he feels threatened or insecure (as are most of the characters), and he starts out the scene a little abruptly, unsure of Delia’s intentions. Then when he is able to teach her something, he feels higher status. And then, with an awesome close-up on the hands on the microscope and then Brian’s face, we learn he has an erection. And it’s the best mix of feeling awesome and so stupid, because he’s so excited that Delia likes him, but he is still conscious of the fact that he is such a loser that this is his first lady-induced erection. It’s a really excellent scene in an episode full of them.

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