Why Were They Canceled? Pt. II

Following up with reflecting on the shows that were gone too soon and have since become the pinnacles of pop culture and teen-angst.

Veronica Glover

Staff Writer

PC: ABC/Mark Seliger/Getty Images

“My So-Called Life” is often said to have changed the meaning and impact of television forever. Scarcely do we come across a program intended for multiple audiences: adolescents, vicenarians, and mature adults. The groundbreaking American drama is an introspective series told through the lens of a fifteen-year-old girl who grapples with life, school (or a “battlefield for your heart” as she calls it), friendship, dating, and parents. In other words, the trials and tribulations of teenhood in the most unconventional, yet sophisticated manner. 

The series aired on August 25, 1994, a time when youth were especially more vulnerable and fueled with angst. “My So-Called Life” premiered shortly after the sudden suicide of Kurt Cobain and prior to the publicized trial of O.J. Simpson. The critically-acclaimed show follows the life of Angela Chase (Claire Danes), who resides in Three Rivers, a fictional suburb of Pittsburgh. Each episode chronicles a close depiction of the emotional encounters between several teenagers within the social group of the protagonist, Angela Chase. 

Unfortunately, the ABC television series was canceled on May 15, 1995, after only one season consisting of nineteen episodes. Despite its complex narratives that taught teenagers how to use their voices to be heard and not just seen, the series was withdrawn by the network due to poor ratings after its initial run. Despite its early cancellation, the cherished program received a number of accolades, including a Golden Globe award for the frontman of feminism, Claire Danes. In addition, the teenage drama was a catalyst for the successful careers of major actors, including Danes, Wilson Cruz, and Jared Leto. Today, “My So-Called Life” is considered a staple in pop culture and “one of the best teen dramas of all time” by The Rolling Stone, Time magazine, and TV Guide. ABC is streaming the series for free, along with Hulu with a subscription.

“Russian Doll”, a Netflix Original, premiered on February 1, 2019. Written, created, and starring Emmy-nominated actress Natasha Lyonne, the program is an American comedy-drama that attempts to capture the reoccurring lives of Nadia and Alan, as they make every effort to free themselves of the time loop they are stuck in. Nadia finds a pattern through her turmoil in which she dies at random moments throughout her present day and reappears on the night of her 36th birthday. At some point, she crosses paths with Alan who becomes an unexpected piece of their endless puzzle. 

The storyline is a symbol of Nadia’s life and adversity experienced during her childhood attributable to her troubled mother Lenora, and her battles with schizophrenia and depression. Once Nadia befriends Alan, her antithesis, their closeness reveals an instance in the time loop where they missed an opportunity to save each other’s lives on the night of her actual birthday—when their first deaths occurred. In other words, the show resembles the meaning of connection and the moments you experience with complete strangers, which ultimately becomes the true essence of everything. 

With Lyonne’s natural qualities of wit and dark humor, the show remains light in spite of its heavy subject matter. Nadia’s unpredictable world surrounded by eccentric artists and erratic antics create a compelling story that commands the audience’s attention. As for actual Russian Dolls, the largest doll is said to be considered the matriarch of the family, with the smallest doll referred to as the “seed” which represents the soul. The dolls are a symbol for a generation of mothers that carry on the legacy of the family through the child in their womb. Therefore, they embody motherhood, femininity, and the profound relationship between mothers and daughters. Spoiler alert: Nadia gives birth to herself as her own mother in her last effort to rewrite history and make a better life for herself. Woefully, on account of the global pandemic, production was delayed and brought to a halt. Similar to Nadia’s existence, it is uncertain whether or not the series will progress. However, both seasons of “Russian Doll” can be streamed on Netflix with a subscription.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, featured


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