When seen in order, these 19 episodes form an amazingly rich chronicle of a year in the lives of Angela Chase, her high school friends and the adults in their lives. Writing this great rarely makes it into series television. As disappointing as it was when the show was cancelled after one year, the result was a self-contained almost novelistic tapestry of interwoven stories that stands alone as one of the finest depictions of adolescence and parenthood ever created for the screen.
One of the most distinctive threads that runs through the series is the way both children and adults deceive themselves about what they really want and need out of life. The drama and humor of the series often revolves around the struggle of the different characters to break through to their genuine selves.
Among many fine story lines, one standout is that of Rickie Vasquez, probably the first depiction of a gay teen on series television, and if not the first, certainly the most unapologetic. I could go on way too long about all the other moving, surprising, heartbreaking and ironic story lines, about the way characters are always surprising us with unexpected depths or insights or abilities, about the use of music, about the incredibly honest and unexploitative depiction of teenage sexuality, and about the performances, which are uniformly superb, even in the smallest roles. Best of all the show is so rich and crafted so brilliantly that it rewards repeated viewing.
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