Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Who Doesn't Love...Jordan Catalano?

When I was thirteen, I fell in love…or something.

He was brooding, elusive, endlessly frustrating, and, of course, the most beautiful boy any teenaged girl had ever seen.

Obviously, I’m talking about Jordan Catalano.

Though My So-Called Life tragically lasted only one season, Jared Leto’s Jordan gave us an abundance of swoon-inducing moments that will live on forever. With the series now replaying on the Sundance channel, it’s easy to see that the show – and Jordan – have more than stood the test of time. With that in mind, I present you with the Top 10 Best Moments of Liberty High’s resident bad boy.         

10. Jordan at the World Happiness Dance

Jordan never really was big on emotions. He mostly had monosyllabic exchanges with Angela that she could analyze and live off of for weeks. It’s no surprise that when she awkwardly asked him if he was going to the World Happiness Dance, he didn’t quite give her a yes or no answer, instead opting to tell her his “whatever happens happens” philosophy on life.

Clearly, this meant Angela had to go to the dance with Brian Krakow on the off chance that Jordan might be there.

Shockingly, Jordan did show up with his friends…but he didn’t talk to Angela. Then, at the end of a drama-filled night, she spied Jordan and his crew exiting the gym, with Jordan lagging purposely behind. Once they were alone, he leaned Angela up against the fence (in that way only Jordan Catalano could) and asked, “Why are you like this?” When Angela, dumbfounded, replied, “Like what?”, Jordan responded with the iconic line, “Like how you are.” Of course, when Angela replied, “How am I?” Jordan walked away, leaving Angela (and the viewer) confused and calling out “How am I!?”

9. Jordan Sings the Ramones

After Jordan’s always-mentioned-never-seen friend Tino quit their band, Frozen Embryos, Jordan and his pals were left with no lead singer and no name. (Frozen Embryos was Tino’s idea.) Angela coaxed Jordan into letting Rayanne join the group, but during their first gig, Rayanne froze and ran off stage. What was Jordan left to do but step up and take the lead himself? With his perfect rendition of "I Wanna Be Sedated," we have to wonder why they needed a replacement for Tino at all.

8. Jordan Can’t Read!?

We never really knew much about Jordan Catalano. How could we? He never came to class and seemed to speak in puzzles. So when Vic the English substitute breezed into town and discovered that Jordan couldn’t read, it was as if, for the first time ever, we finally got a peek at what was under that gorgeous, mysterious surface. Then Vic got fired. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for someone else to find out Jordan’s secret, and better yet, that person was Angela!

The moment that Jordan innocently handed over a letter that Angela had lost on the museum field trip – a letter detailing every thought she had ever had about him – was both heartbreaking and thrilling at the same time. Heartbreaking because, as Vic the Sub put it, no one had ever noticed that that beautiful, smart boy couldn’t read; thrilling, because Angela was about to figure it all out. Of course, the fact that Angela was the only person in school who knew Jordan's secret made her, in a way, the only person in school who sort of knew him. And if Jordan telling her, “I can read…just not that good,” didn’t tug at your heartstrings – then I don't know who you are.

7. Brian Tutors Jordan

Because Angela knew that Jordan couldn’t read, and because Jordan finally said that it wasn’t right that she keep doing his homework, she signed him up for peer tutoring. Harmless enough.

Until he got matched with Brian Krakow!

To say that Brian and Jordan were polar opposites would be an understatement. Jordan was always on the verge of being expelled and only wanted to play his guitar; Brian was awkward and neurotic and was always talking about trigonometry. Add to that the fact that Brian had been in love with Angela his whole life and oh, how that plot thickens!

As it turned out, Jordan and Brian made the perfect team. Brian helped Jordan read The Odyssey, and Jordan taught Brian how to get girls’ phone numbers. And, okay, maybe things got a little messy after Brian wrote that apology letter to Angela “from Jordan” after Jordan slept with Rayanne Graff, and maybe Jordan never really wrapped his mind around the fact that Brian’s name wasn’t Brain, but wasn’t that quasi-bromance awesome while it lasted?

6. Jordan Apologizes…Sort of

Okay. So it was really, really wrong that Jordan slept with Rayanne Graff after he and Angela had broken up. And it was also really wrong that he allowed Brian to write his apology letter for him. And, alright, it was wrong (but hilariously awesome) when he used the speech that Brian had fed to him to explain himself: “I’ve created my own prison, and now I must exist in it.”

But –

Wasn’t it really sweet when he finally spoke from his own heart and said, “I have all these dreams…where I know exactly what to say…and you tell me, you know, that you forgive me”?

No? Just me?

Whatever. I thought it was sweet.

5. Jordan Meets Mr. Chase

In order for Angela to be allowed to go out with Jordan, her parents said they had to meet him first. After standing her up the first time, Jordan finally made an appearance at the Chase house.

Enter: Comedic gold.

Much to her chagrin, Mrs. Chase (Patty-Cakes to some) wasn’t home yet, and with Angela up in her room, Jordan was stuck making conversation with Angela’s goofy dad, his chatty potential business partner (“that Hallie Lowenthal woman”) and her stuck up fiancé, Brad.

Best exchange ever:

Mr. Chase: Are you Jordan?
Jordan: Yeah…..Are you….her dad?

4. Jordan Helps Rickie

We knew that Jordan Catalano had a sweet ride. We knew he looked great in a sheepskin jacket. What we didn’t know was what a big heart he had – not until Christmas.

In what was perhaps the series’ most emotional episode, we learned that Rickie had been abused at home and had no place to stay. With only a couple of days to go until Christmas, Jordan bumped into him outside of a convenience store and asked if he needed a ride someplace. When Jordan pieced together what was going on, he told Rickie that he had been in a similar situation himself and knew a place where Rickie could go. When Rickie thanked him, saying he’d light a candle for him on Christmas Eve, Jordan shrugged it off – but then, at the end of the episode, Jordan lit a candle for Rickie, and we saw Jordan in a whole new light.

3. Jordan Sings About His Great Love

When Jordan told Angela he was writing a song and asked if she wanted to come hear his band rehearse, it was just about the best thing that had ever happened to her. Then he played the song, and that topped it.

I mean, the song was called “Red.” Red! For her red hair! He had noticed her! She did mean something to him! What else could the song be about?

Oh. His car.

2. Jordan Meets Mrs. Chase

Angela’s mom never really got over the fact that everyone on Earth had met this dream boy Jordan and she hadn’t. Then, in the final episode, as she was waiting to have dinner with her high school boyfriend – her Jordan Catalano - it happened.

I don’t know what the best part about this encounter was. The fact that Jordan spewed out some of his rare insight, then immediately followed it up with, “Do you always wear this much makeup?” The fact that he had just learned the word “ironic” and chose to use it at the most perfectly appropriate moment?  Maybe it was just how much he seemed to be enjoying that sandwich and milk Patty had given him. Whatever it was, this scene is classic Catalano at his finest.

1. Jordan and Angela Hold Hands

If you’re Angela Chase, and Jordan Catalano wants to make out with you in the boiler room every day, you’re not really thinking about anything else. You don’t even care that you’re missing geometry review - even when you’re practically failing geometry. You almost don’t even mind that he wants to keep you a secret. But when he ignores you in the halls and disses you at a Buffalo Tom concert, you’ve got to draw a line.

After humiliating her in front of her friends and acting like a stranger to her in public, Angela finally stood up to Jordan and told him that she wasn’t going to do this with him anymore. He couldn’t kiss her so deeply that her lips swelled one minute, then pretend he didn’t know her the next. Maybe other girls he knew had no self-respect, but she was Angela Chase. No more boiler room for her.

Then, in the episode’s final moments, as Angela stood at one end of the hall with her friends, and Jordan and his gang stood at the other, the unthinkable happened. Jordan Catalano – the most enigmatic guy in school – walked straight towards her, asked if they could go somewhere, and in front of everyone, made his way down the hall with her, holding her hand. It may sound like a simple gesture, but to Angela Chase and every teenaged girl watching, it was colossal.

1 comment:

  1. Just thinking of Jordan Catalano and that fence makes me swoon!

    I LOVE him with Brian Krakow, tutor. Reminds me of Riggs and Landry! (You know this already, but I'm immortalizing it on the internet.)

    Next up, I hope, Best of Brian Krakow??