My So-Called Affinity For Television.

Can you just, like, try to imagine every single movie, every single TV show about high school life? Of which there are many. There are comedies that end up speaking some greater truth, there are comedies that get it all wrong, there are dramas that get it all wrong, and there are dramas that run like they're secretly documenting your actual life.

And then there's My So-Called Life; a show so good it never should've been made.

I remember back when it was on ABC thinking that I should really be watching this show, but circumstance and my forgetful mind prevented my watching it past the first episode. Maybe it was too complex for my 13 year old person to fully appreciate. Granted, I was the wrong gender, but some themes translate across all boundaries.

No, it never should've been made unless the story could've been told. All the way. It ran 1 season, 19 episodes, and then it was yanked because - as usual - broadcast television doesn't realize they have a duty to put out the best product quality-wise. Instead they reach for those advertising dollars. Did anyone ever stop to think that if television ONLY showed quality programming - as opposed to this reality TV trash and the same derivative sitcoms year after year - all the fools out there who normally ignore shows like My So-Called Life, Arrested Development, Freaks & Geeks and the rest, they'd HAVE to watch.

There's this BBC show made by the same guys who created the BBC version of The Office. It's called Extras. The first series centers around the central character's quest to see some film time and actually get a line of dialogue or two (as he is ... a movie extra). The second series has our central character's sitcom pilot picked up on British television. The network has done its part to completely water down the humor, add a laugh track, and condense the comedy into a slew of catch phrases. In the end, the show is nothing like its creator envisioned, it's universally panned by all critics, and yet it's seeing tremendous ratings.

It's funny, but it's not. This happens all too often. In The Larry Sanders Show, Larry's offered a deal to produce a pilot of a sitcom and the network execs say what they're looking for is another version of Friends. Ergo, a show that had the opportunity to be original and cutting edge was dumbed down and made like a carbon copy. Remember Caroline In The City? Jesse? The Single Guy? Veronica's Closet? Remember those shows being even remotely funny? And yet they ran, they aired, and they lasted longer than they ever should've - which would've been Not At All.

It really makes you wonder, then, how these quality shows still get greenlit. Somehow, they slip through the cracks and end up saying more than a million Veronica's Closets.

Like I said, My So-Called Life never should've been wasted on broadcast television. They should've condensed the best 15-or-so hours, tacked on a proper ending, and released it as a 20-hour PBS documentary entitled How Television Should Be.

Take the pilot episode for instance. We meet Claire Danes, high schooler. She's in a transitory period where her lust for being good in school, for towing the line, is waning in favor of hanging out with these new friends: an alcoholic Rayanne and Rickie the homosexual. Of course, I'm over-simplifying things on purpose. Nevertheless, we get a strong essence of her dynamic with each of her parents, her old BFF, and how things are going to be with her new BFFs. By the end, she's been to a party, drinking outside a club she can't get into, talked to her life-crush Jordan Catalano more than once, and seen her dad talking to some strange woman when he was supposed to be playing pool with his brother.

I remember, when I finally started watching this show a few years after it originally aired - on MTV, one of their bright moves in their own transitory period from music to Youth Culture - that I thought A.J. Langer (Rayanne) should've been a bigger star than she was. In My So-Called Life, she stole every scene as the alcoholic high schooler with an absent mother. But, such is the entertainment industry, there aren't any good film roles for women, and if you can't catch a break on a quality show, you're pretty much reduced to guest-spots on already-established programs.

And here we are, with one of the first shows on broadcast television taking homosexuality seriously. All of these themes - adult in nature, high school in presentation - ended up making this show (along with the writing) one of the greatest televised dramas ever. And, surely, the greatest fictional account of teenage life.

Too bad ABC didn't have the foresight to see it my way.