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by Barry Walters

April 21, 2014

Music from 'My So-Called Life'

by Barry Walters  |  April 21, 2014

Tapping into the same sensibility that sparked the rise of alternative rock, My So-Called Life is rightly considered one of the greatest things to happen to TV in the '90s. Starring Claire Danes, Jared Leto, Wilson Cruz and other astonishingly gifted then-young actors, this sometimes comedic but almost always moving drama about an ambivalent 15-year-old's awkward transition from the simple girlhood she was leaving behind to a far more complex adult life before her was relatable in a way that other TV shows focused on teenagers hadn't been. You knew these people.

Despite the show's realism, My So-Called Life was also deeply poetic -- so much so that it was almost unbelievable that it was actually on a major network in a primetime slot. And, after 19 remarkable episodes, it wasn't: Originally broadcast from late August 1994 to late January 1995 (and then soon revived by MTV), My So-Called Life is one of the shortest running shows to have achieved legendary status.

Drawing heavily from alternative rock bands of the era that reflected the characters' fears and uncertainty, its soundtrack brings that decade back to life more realistically than the era's best albums for the very reason that it's a mixed bag. The '90s weren't all Kurt Cobain and 2Pac. These kids lived lives that were much more like Toad the Wet Sprocket and Buffalo Tom -- far from perfect, but perfectly familiar.

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