Brian Eno once said that while the Velvet Underground sold only a couple of thousand albums in the 1960s, everybody who bought one started a band. The same isn’t literally true where My So-Called Life and TV drama are concerned—even the lowest-rated programs score a few million viewers, and many fans of Winnie Holzman’s 1994–95 teen drama are just now old enough to break into the business—but it’s hard to understate the influence of the show, which launched the careers of Claire Danes and Jared Leto, as well as a number of behind-the-camera luminaries (including Friday Night Lights producer Jason Katims).
In a feat reminiscent of the letter-writing campaign that spared Star Trek from cancellation in 1968, fans of MSCL organized a subscription drive that yielded a limited-edition DVD set in 2002, which instantly sold out and until recently, regularly went for several hundred dollars on eBay. The patience of those who skipped the 2002 collection is well rewarded by the extras on this affordable reissue, which include a 1995 cast Q&A and a book with essays by Janeane Garofalo and Joss Whedon. However, most fans would agree that the most important thing is how a new generation of viewers can experience 18 amazing episodes (the penultimate one is universally considered a dud) chronicling the awkward adolescence of Angela Chase (Danes), her lovelorn neighbor Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall), gay classmate Rickie Vasquez (Wilson Cruz) and cryptic brooder Jordan Catalano (Leto), all of whom rank among the most vivid and believable characters in the history of the medium.