Watching Mad Men With My Mother

Check out this week’s Lives column in the New York Times Magazine. I wrote it. It’s about my relationship with my mother, dresses, and Mad Men. Funny enough, it’s one of the most personal things I’ve written!

Bonus fun facts: my mom is addicted to Mad Men now, but it literally took “watching each episode twice, to get through the bad feelings.” She even considered getting cable to watch this season. For this piece, she had to get fact checked by the New York Times Magazine. She also called me at one point to point out some typos in a draft. She’s really great.

Dating Jared Leto

There was a point in time where Jared Leto was dating a whole slew of twenty something actresses, and it made no sense. He was in his has-been phase, or he was pursuing his band or whatever (and they are inexplicably big, I believe). But seeing him squiring the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Lindsay Lohan confirmed one thing: the myth of Jordan Catalano lives on. These actresses are all younger than me, and my guess is they saw My So-Called Life in a tender, vulnerable time in their lives - and getting older, and hotter, they got to actually date Jordan Catalano and live the dream. Getting the chance to date Jared Leto must’ve been, for them, a moment in time where they were Angela Chase in the boiler room.

I saw Temple Grandin last year, kind of by accident, one of those movies that you settle on when you’re at a friend’s house and they have 500 channels on cable. If Temple Grandin had been released theatrically, mark my words, Claire Danes would’ve won the Oscar for best actress. Easily. (Which in itself is funny, because I bet she and Natalie Portman have been competing for parts since they were luminous teen actresses.) The movie was good, and it felt, somewhat, like a movie that would’ve been released theatrically even five years ago, as a passion project. Was Harvey Weinstein asleep at the wheel? It’s great that HBO put it out, but it would’ve been nice for the total media saturation that you would’ve gotten with a movie. Claire Danes won awards the whole season long, fifteen years after I thought that she was the best teenage actress I had ever seen.

I suppose Glee is filling the same role for kids that My So-Called Life did for me. I saw My So-Called Life when I was in seventh grade. It was aspirational. I looked up to Angela Chase as a friend and I knew that I would be her, in some form or fashion, in the future. My best friend dyed her hair kool-aid red and it washed out in a day. I’ve been rewatching the show with my boo recently; he never saw it, and letting him in on it feels like letting him in on secret teenage me. I wonder how Glee is affecting seventh graders these days. It has to be, in some ways, a really resonant time to be a gay teenager and to see some version of your life reflected in TV these days - and that’s what I think is important about Glee, which is just spottily entertaining - but ultimately, when it comes to realistic, well-written characters that you care about, it really can’t hold much of a candle up to My So-Called Life. It’s the rare show that gets that deeply inside someone’s specific human experience. But the echoes are kind of interesting.