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If you are a child of the 90s, you have no doubt heard of My So-Called Life at some point, if not watched every episode. The teenage drama series starring Claire Danes unfortunately only lasted one season, but it quickly became a cult classic for a reason.
Although many viewers feel the thematic aspects are the strongest of the series, the most acclaimed aspect of My So-Called Life was the characters. After all, Claire Danes took home her first Golden Globe at 15 years old for her portrayal Angela Chase. However, Angela wasn't the only solid character in this show, as she had a decent number of supporting characters to bounce back on.
Although the main role of Angela is perhaps the most popular, that doesn't mean she is necessarily the best or most developed character. There was one specific person in Angela's life that was perhaps just as popular with the audience as he was with her, and his name is Jordan Catalano. Jordan served as Angela's main love interest (more like obsession) and became a focal point of the show because of her interest in him. He's often dismissed as a typical 90s heartthrob, but he actually made more of an impact than you might think.
There are reasons why we shouldn't be so dismissive of Jordan Catalano, despite Jared Leto himself being dismissive of his time on the show. Leto often refuses to even acknowledge or talk about the show in interviews, but that doesn't make his portrayal of the show's "bad boy" anything unworthy of recognizing.
Sorry, Jared, but Jordan Catalano wasn't just perfect bone structure, piercing blue eyes and leaning against lockers in a perfect way.
1. He Was Intelligent and Focused
While it might not seem like it, Jordan Catalano was actually a pretty well put-together character in terms of intelligence and focus. Despite being an undiagnosed dyslexic, Angela, Brian Krakow, Mr. Racine, and Hallie Lowenthal all caught on that Jordan was basically playing dumb to fly under the radar and avoid being challenged. However, when he was finally challenged (mainly by Angela), he stepped up and realized that he was shortchanging himself by being embarrassed of his learning disabilities and was capable of more than he gave himself credit for.
2. He Knew What He Wanted and Wasn't Afraid to Work For It
Jordan Catalano was not the type to beat around the bush when it came down to what he wanted. Whether it was success with his band, the Frozen Embryos, or his relationship with Angela, he was always upfront about his desires. In addition to being blunt, he wasn't afraid to put in the work to achieve his desired goals—especially when it came to his band. Regarding the Frozen Embryos, he was the one writing songs, pushing for rehearsals, and stepping up when other people flaked out. Jordan even managed to pull the band back together after they broke up.
Jordan was also quite persistent when it came to Angela. If you actually think about it, he never intentionally played with Angela's emotions, despite their initial interactions being taken out of context. Despite what Angela's narrations want us to believe, he was always upfront with her about what he wanted out of their interactions. We might not have agreed with his intentions for a majority of the series, but hey, at least he was honest. That's more than you could say about a lot of people.
We might not have agreed with his intentions for a majority of the series, but hey, at least he was honest.
3. He Was Actually a Pretty Good Person
Despite what we all might think by a surface glance at Jordan Catalano, he actually wasn't a bad guy. Jordan proved himself to be a supportive, caring person who is always willing to give somebody a ride or listen to why they're upset. One example is when Angela was upset about Sharon Cherski's father's heart attack; Jordan picked up on the fact that Angela had been crying and listened to what she had to say. He even gave her a hug in an attempt to make her feel better.
Jordan proved himself to be a supportive, caring person who is always willing to give somebody a ride or listen to why they're upset.
Another example of Jordan's true personality was when he ran into Rickie on the street after he'd been beaten by his uncle. Jordan offers Rickie a ride and quickly picks up on the fact that Rickie couldn't tell him where he wanted to be dropped off. Jordan revealed that his father used to abuse him too, and offered to take Rickie to a place where he could crash for awhile. Not something you'd expect, right?
4. He Was Honest, Even If the Truth Hurt
Going back to the subject of Jordan Catalano's brutal honesty, you can't deny that this is actually one of his better qualities. It also served as a way of switching up the cliché standard of high school cliques.
It's pretty common in teen movies and television shows for the "bad" crowd to be overly dishonest or simply ambivalent towards other human beings. Obviously, My So-Called Life lumps Jordan Catalano into this group by association, but as the series goes on, we see that other characters meet the cliche more than Jordan ever does.
He takes responsibility when he makes a mistake and he always tells you the truth, even if it's not something you want to hear. Other characters in the "good" crowd, such as Brian Krakow, actually fit the stereotype assigned to Jordan more closely in terms of dishonesty. Brian alone was responsible for starting a rumor that jeopardized Angela's friendship with Jordan and lying to Angela about numerous things throughout the series.
When it comes down to honesty, Jordan was the most upfront person in the whole series and wasn't a fan of playing games. What he had to say might not have been easy to hear, but at least he had the guts to say it to your face.
5. He Wasn't Afraid to Change
In the beginning of the series, it's no secret that Jordan didn't take Angela very seriously. He no doubt figured that she was just another girl chasing after him like who knows how many others had before. Because of this, Jordan never gave Angela too much respect and just sort of went with the flow. He figured if she walked away at some point, that was just the way things went. That is, until he fell in love with her.
As the series goes on, we see an evolution in Jordan that we don't really see with the other characters. He goes from being a burnt-out teen who had been held back twice to a young man with a sense of direction and knowledge of what he wants moving forward. As he gets to know Angela better, he accepts her help and in turn improves his grades, understands and accepts his learning disability, and starts to figure out how to treat her (and others) with respect.
As the series goes on, we see an evolution in Jordan that we don't really see with the other characters. Granted, the catalyst for Jordan's evolution wasn't the most pleasant turn of events for Angela; it served as a continued necessity for Jordan Catalano. He learns these skills and evolves because he doesn't want to lose a person who had become very important to him. His character development was sort of dependent on him learning from his mistakes and moving forward.
Without those mistakes, Jordan Catalano would have just fallen by the wayside; he would have been just another forgettable 90s television heartthrob like so many others. Luckily for us, that's not the way things turned out.