September 7, 2019

My So-Called Life 4, Father Figures: Grateful Dead, Ungrateful Daughter

Posted in TV tagged at 1:26 pm by Jenn

He’s very trusting to think she won’t push him off

Summary: A young Angela runs down the stairs to greet her father when he gets home from work. Present-day Angela just peeks in at him with Rayanne and Rickie, then otherwise ignores him. As Rickie heads out, he and Graham awkwardly greet each other. Rayanne jokes that they’re exchanging fashion tips. She’s next to meet Graham, and the two of them cook something together. Graham calls Neil and reports that he got two tickets to a Grateful Dead concert. Rayanne thinks it explains a lot that Graham likes the Dead. Her mom does, too, and made Rayanne a fan.

Patty comes home and, of course, ruins all the fun. Angela voices over that she doesn’t trust her father anymore and sort of wishes he would do something wrong so she could be right about him. Patty pulls Graham out of the kitchen to tell him that their business is being audited. She told her father, since the year the IRS wants to focus on is the year he was out sick and Patty took over. She takes full responsibility, but Graham thinks her father should take some blame, since he was too cheap to hire an accountant to do their taxes that year.

Angela learns of the audit and asks if Graham lied about something. Patty says it was just a random thing. Graham comments that Patty’s father may have lied. Angela confirms that Rayanne can stay for dinner, getting short with Graham when he says he already approved it. Graham complains to Patty that Angela takes a tone with him now. Patty says she didn’t notice, probably because that’s just how Angela always talks now. She promises that Angela adores him, and all her contempt is reserved for her mother.

After dinner, Graham reads with Danielle, who likes his new scruffy face, which Angela hates. Patty’s father, Chuck, arrives and announces that a rain gutter on the house is about to fall. He also complains about the number of lights on in the house, like a typical dad. Patty turns a lamp off, but Graham turns it back on. Chuck says he was never audited in the 30 years he ran the business; he shouldn’t have sent a girl to do a man’s job. Patty and Graham both call him out for the sexist remark.

Patty draws her father’s attention to a large deduction made for a car, which is probably what piqued the IRS’s interest. Chuck ignores her to greet Angela. He’s much warmer with her than with Danielle, and she gives him more attention than she does her parents. Graham is clearly jealous.

At school, a guidance counselor tries to confiscate Jordan’s Walkman, which he denies having. Rayanne walks by and yells for him to just hand it over. She complains to Angela and Rickie that people are rude. Then she says that Graham is attractive and nice. Angela voices over that there’s nothing to say when someone compliments your parents. Rickie says his stubble is the perfect length. Angela says he just ran out of razors and couldn’t shave. Rayanne teases her for having a father who’s in touch with his emotions and a two-parent household.

At home, Danielle tells a friend on the phone that they’re being audited. Go away, Danielle. Graham warns Patty that they may have to pay up for her father’s mistakes. He complains that Angela has barely talked to him all week, something Patty’s used to. She tells him they’re meeting with someone from the IRS on Thursday, which he says is the same day as the Dead concert. Patty begs him not to go.

Amber arrives to pick up Rayanne, so Graham lets Rayanne know it’s time to go. He asks her and Angela if they’d like to take his tickets and go to the concert with Amber, who already has tickets. Angela politely accepts while Rayanne, who’s thrilled, thanks Graham with a hug. After Rayanne leaves, Graham can’t get a conversation going with Angela, so he leaves as well.

Patty’s happy to learn that Graham is skipping the concert. She thinks he’s joking when he says he gave the tickets to the girls. When he says he’s serious, she points out that the concert is on a school night, and all sorts of unsavory people will probably be there. “Could you have had a more completely terrible idea?” she asks.

They both have trouble falling asleep, him thinking about the tickets and her worrying about the audit, which makes her feel like she’s being punished. Graham tries to assure her that she’s a good businesswoman. He turns on the TV, but Patty wants it off, since she doesn’t want to watch a Johnny Carson-less Tonight Show. She decides to take her father to lunch to discuss the audit on her own turf and terms.

Chuck takes over the lunch plans, taking Patty to a diner full of unhealthy food he shouldn’t be eating. He gives her his driving log and says he talked to the IRS agent, who doesn’t mind them doing this without an accountant. Patty says that’s in her best interest. Chuck thinks he can handle the IRS. What he can’t handle is Patty being bossy.

Ms. Mayhew has fled the school, so her class is goofing off without supervision (except Brian, who’s reading a book). Ms. Krzyzanowski, the guidance counselor who tried to take Jordan’s Walkman, tries to get control. Angela explains that a Spanish teacher has been teaching the class, which is English. The last time he was there, he showed them the movie Alive. And I assume he’s not in class today because he was fired for showing the class that movie.

As Jordan shows up late, Ms. K. tells the students to write three sentences about the movie, then trade papers and diagram the sentences. She’ll observe because her life is empty. Angela and Jordan get paired up, and when she’s done with his sentences, she starts flashing around her concert tickets. She remembers that she owes him $30 for the fake ID, but she doesn’t have the money. He advises her to scalp the tickets. She doesn’t know who would want them, but it looks like he would.

Rayanne is upset when she hears the news. Rickie offers to talk to Jordan and get them back. Angela thinks the money is more important than the tickets, but Rayanne knows the importance of the band. Plus, one of those tickets was hers, and it was a gift from Graham. As she storms out of the bathroom, Angela realizes she’s really screwed up. Rickie asks why she sold the tickets. Angela isn’t sure.

Patty fights with Chuck on the phone over his decision to go meet with the IRS agent on his own. She admits her fears to Graham, who tries to lighten the mood by saying prison isn’t that bad and he’ll wait for her. Patty laments that she can’t get her father to listen to her. Graham reminds her that other people listen to her, since she has to order them around all day. He tries to make things romantic, which…really, Graham? Patty’s upset that she always feels like a child around her dad. Graham is still trying to get romantic, saying he likes it when Patty needs him.

The mood has already been ruined, so Patty ruins it further, asking Graham if he talked to Angela about the concert. He hasn’t but promises he will. Danielle catches Angela looking in Patty’s stuff downstairs, looking for something that will make it reasonable for her to hate Graham. He catches her next and she lies that she lost part of her homework.

The IRS agent, Ms. Mandeville, comes to the Chases’ house for a tense meeting with Patty, Graham, and Chuck. Chuck brings up that he’s a veteran, then talks about his heart attack and diabetes during the year of the audit. Ms. M. casually asks why he’s bringing up these things. At the end of the meeting, Graham realizes that he forgot to talk to Angela about the concert, which will be starting soon.

Ms. M. cautions Chuck not to take any lavish vacations, and he denies that he ever does. She notes that he says he takes a lot of time off. Chuck says those are all car trips…with the car he tried to deduct as a business vehicle. Patty announces that they’ll be paying all the taxes they owe. Chuck objects that he doesn’t need her help. Ms. M. accepts Patty’s offer, but Chuck doesn’t think Patty has the authority to take the lead like this. He tells her to do whatever she wants because he doesn’t care.

As Patty and Graham are seeing Ms. M. out, Angela runs into the house and up the stairs. Graham runs after her to talk about the concert. Patty apologizes to Ms. M. for her argument with Chuck, but Ms. M. has seen a lot worse. Graham tells Angela that she can’t go to the concert, throwing Patty under the bus by saying she’s not comfortable with it. He asks for the tickets back, but Angela says Rayanne has them. She refuses to break her plans, not wanting to be punished for a mistake Graham made.

Angela spots a car out the window and runs out to supposedly go to the concert with Rayanne. Patty chastises Graham for not working this out earlier. She accuses him of wanting Angela to go. Graham admits that he does – he saw the Dead when he was her age, and it was one of the eight best nights of his life. He wanted to give that to Angela. Patty starts to leave the room, and Graham says she’s acting like her father. She murmurs something and won’t repeat it when he asks her to.

While taking out the trash, Brian spots Angela hiding in his parents’ car. He invites her to hang out in his room, saying his parents won’t notice since they’re balancing their checking account. Angela doesn’t want Graham to know she’s not at the concert, since he would be upset. Brian comments that their fathers are very different. He asks if this has anything to do with Jordan. Angela gets out without answering.

Brian stops her, saying it must not have occurred to her that he could be doing something that doesn’t involve her. He doesn’t just sit around and wait for her to need something from him. When she asks what he was doing, he says it was nothing. It’s cold, so he gives her his sweater. His mother yells outside for him to take out more trash. Angela voices over that it’s awful to be present when someone else’s parents are ordering him or her around.

Brian tries to continue the conversation, saying that Angela shouldn’t treat him one way when she needs something, then ignore him when she doesn’t. Graham comes outside to finally check out the rain gutter and sees the two of them talking. Instead of confronting Angela for lying, he just goes back inside.

The next morning, Graham ignores Angela as everyone gets ready for the day. She complains to Patty, not seeing a problem – Graham didn’t want her to go to the concert, so she didn’t go. Patty points out that she lied, and she sold tickets she had no business selling. Angela wishes Graham would say all that to her instead of acting like she doesn’t exist. I’m sure he would also like to be treated like he doesn’t exist, which is what she does to him all the time.

At school, Rayanne also avoids Angela, and Rickie is stuck in the middle. He can see both sides of the girls’ fight. He asks why Angela did what she did. Was it because she was mad at Graham? If Rickie’s uncle, who’s the only father figure he has, gives him something when Rickie’s mad at him, Rickie can’t bring himself to accept it. But he’s also kind of scared of his uncle, who in the past has broken down Rickie’s door. He’s not surprised when Angela says her dad always knocks.

Angela tracks Rayanne down in a bathroom and tries to apologize. Rayanne got to go to the concert after all, since her mom’s boyfriend’s friend had an extra ticket. She knows that Angela’s father probably gives her stuff all the time, so this wasn’t a big deal to her, but it was to Rayanne. She’s jealous of their relationship.

Angela says Rayanne doesn’t know everything about Graham, like how he was talking to a woman on the street that night he said he was going to hang out with Neil. Rayanne’s used to her father dating a lot, so she can’t relate. But no matter what Graham does, whether or not he’s doing anything he shouldn’t, he’s still the type of father to give his daughter a special gift out of the blue.

Patty is closing up the office for the night when she finds Chuck still there. He’s found something she’s been working on, a plan to move to high-speed copiers. He says it would be expensive, but Patty has done the math and figured out how to make it work. Chuck passive-aggressively says she has all the answers. Patty comments that even if she worked 16 hours a day, it wouldn’t be enough for her father.

Chuck says he’s waiting for an apology. Patty tells him he’ll be waiting a while. She has opinions and has to make decisions as the person running the company. Sometimes she misses not questioning him, but since he put her in charge, she’s turned a corner and can’t go back. Chuck says that’s her own business.

Patty fights back tears as she asks why there has to be distance between them. He says it’s not his doing. He weakly comforts her but won’t hug her since he didn’t shave. When Patty was little, she wouldn’t kiss him goodnight if he hadn’t shaved. He was too rough. Chuck says that raising a girl means walking on eggshells. He invites her to get pie with him, though she didn’t enjoy it at the diner.

Graham goes downstairs late at night for some milk and finds Patty reading in the kitchen. She says the Beatles didn’t break up just because of Yoko; Paul wanted to be the band’s business manager. She wonders why everyone gives Yoko a hard time. Patty’s worked hard to please Chuck, and he doesn’t get what it costs her: “He’s never really known what I’m worth.”

Patty continues that sometimes she thinks part of the reason she married Graham was that she knew he’d be a good father. Graham says he doesn’t want to lose Angela. She tells him he has to keep his distance for a while. Angela has the right to push him off his pedestal. If she doesn’t do it now, she’ll do it when she’s Patty’s age. Graham needs to stand his ground and make sure Angela knows that he’ll still be there after she’s done pushing him away.

The next day, I guess, Graham fixes the gutter while listening to the Dead song “Althea.” He invites Brian to help him, but Brian ignores him. Graham figures he’s too busy picturing Angela naked. Patty asks Angela to take her father a drink, so when she comes out, Graham asks her for help. He suggests that she work out some of her pent-up anger with a hammer. Angela says he’s the one who’s angry.

He asks what she got for the tickets. Jordan gave her $90, keeping back $30 for the ID. Graham advises her to declare that as income. Angela tells him that Rayanne went to the concert and had a great time. She asks to turn off the song. Graham asks what kind of music she’s listening to nowadays. She names the Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, Porno for Pyros, and Stone Temple Pilots. Graham is surprised to hear that she likes Billie Holiday. Maybe they have something in common after all.

Thoughts: Chuck is played by Paul Dooley. Young Angela is played by Kaley Cuoco. Ms. K. is played by Winnie Holzman, the show’s creator (and Paul Dooley’s wife).

I wonder how Neil reacted when he found out Graham gave away the ticket Neil thought he was getting.

Who decided Danielle should be a character? Why does she exist?

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    This was a fascinating glimpse into what makes Patty the way she is. I was glad to see that Graham didn’t feel emasculated by Chuck even though as soon as he entered the house that’s basically what he was doing. I’m picking up that he was a pretty controlling father since it seems like he still wants to control everything around him including his adult daughter’s life. Sounds familiar.

    I’m not sure why neither Patty nor Graham ever said point-blank to Chuck that his tax fuckup could cost *them* real money, that this business is *their* bread and butter now, that it’s *their* ass on the line at this point. They don’t go into great detail about who actually owns it, so I’m guessing Chuck still owns the business and Patty is just the manager (and Graham her… assistant? It’s never really clear what he does there). If Chuck has such a problem with the way they want to run this tax audit then why does he still have Patty running the business? And honestly, I’m a little surprised she didn’t just say to him, look, if you want to roll the dice with the IRS on this, maybe you can roll the dice on the business in general, because we’re not going to be involved with a shady-ass business that you want to operate.

    Again with Rayanne and food!

    Angela and Jordan’s sentence-diagramming would have been a good moment to introduce his dyslexia (if that’s what it ends up being, I can’t remember at this point) but I guess he skated by with his super short sentences. “People ate each other.” “Some people died.”

    Angela was rifling through Graham’s briefcase, not Patty’s (not to be pedantic) and then was starting to look in his wallet, which is why he looked annoyed. He should have called her out on that instead of letting her lie and leave the room. Get a spine, Graham!

    Absolutely loved the clever way IRS Lady goaded Chuck into admitting he lied about the car usage. Patty was smart to cut it off when she did and Chuck was just an asshole about the whole thing. Oddly enough, Chuck reminds me a lot of my own father who liked to try to slip things past the IRS in his day.

    Brian mentions a couple times that it’s his car, and that made me wonder why he’d say *his* car instead of his parents’ car. He’s only 15 so it doesn’t make sense that they’d have given him a car to drive yet. I guess he’s just presuming family ownership of it. Their little quick conversation in the car was cute, though, and it was 100% fair of him to ask if Catalano was involved in some way.

    The Patty/Chuck scene at the office was awkward, as intended, but I thought her teary speech about the distance between them was a little false. It just seems like the Patty Chase we’ve been shown would have just walked out of the building at that point instead of continuing to beat a dead horse about the fractured relationship she has with her father. At some point you have to give up trying to make it what it cannot be, and accept it for what it is, or else just cut the whole thing off. Am I talking about Patty or myself now, ugh, this episode’s hitting a little close to home!

    The scene with Patty and Graham in the kitchen late at night was fantastic for both of them. Just stellar acting from both of them.

    I had no idea young Angela was Kaley Cuoco!


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