So I’m rewatching ONCE AND AGAIN, a Herskovitz & Zwick (the producers of MY SO-CALLED LIFE) show. Why? Because it’s finals time.* Ahem.
And there’s a lot of things I’m thinking this time through, mostly centering on how much recognition I feel at all the classically identifiable H&Z moments and tropes. Some of which is wonderful and moving for me, and more of which, actually, is annoying than I would have expected.
But here’s my question. They did a simply amazing job of casting the teen girl actors, Evan Rachel Wood (who’s gone on to a very successful movie career) and Julia Whelan (who I believe mostly stopped acting after the show). And the teen male lead is… not as good. I don’t recall whether he improves later in the show (I’m still just halfway through season one), but it’s very noticeable. He’s not awful, but… the difference is striking.
And it’s making me remember just how incredible Claire Danes was in MSCL, and how in a few key scenes, Jared Leto just doesn’t measure up. (Like, after they’ve broken up and he comes to her house to return her bike, except it’s really Brian’s bike, and they’re talking about sex and death, and it turns out her dad is listening the whole time…)
So, obviously any show can have a dud actor. And I’m not talking about duds here, just actors who don’t always rise to the greatness of their costars. (And actually, I think the weakest acting in MSCL comes from Devon Odessa, who plays Sharon.) But H&Z have been consistently incredibly successful about casting female leads who take your breath away. Is it a general pattern that in the teenage years, it’s more common for female actors to reach great heights of naturalistic displays of emotion? Or am I overreaching? What do you guys think?
* I don’t actually watch much TV anymore; I never watch it live. But some semesters, when I’m really in a panic over finals, I feel an inexplicable urge to watch my shows. My first semester of grad school, I didn’t watch any TV all semester (which was actually kind of an adjustment, moving away from my parents’ TiVo and all)… until finals hit, when I suddenly felt compelled to watch three seasons of ANGEL. (My first-year-of-grad-school roommate and I picked one another for several reasons, but the complementary nature of our respective TV-on-DVD collections was not the most minor of them. I had MSCL and the Collectors’ Edition of Freaks and Geeks, both of which were hard to find at that time; she had… everything else.)
But yeah. I don’t know if this pattern is a reaction to the anxiety (Avoidance, the Greatest Strategy of Them All!) or because when I’m so close to freedom I start fantasizing all the things I could do with it and then I really want to, or what. But this semester’s papers are a particularly painful bunch for me (as measured by the triumvirate of how much I care about these classes (a lot), how much I’ve done on these papers (almost nil), and how soon they are due (let’s not discuss it)), so ONCE AND AGAIN it is.