Men as Archetype: Or, How Jordan Catalano Ruined Everything

Jordan Catalano

Are you a man? If so, do you know this man? I don’t mean Jared Leto, frontman for 30 Seconds to Mars, I mean THIS man, Jordan Catalano. If you don’t, you should. He ruined everything.

Maybe that’s too bold a statement. Jordan was (and remains in our hearts) the babe of short-lived ABC drama My So-Called Life. (Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you can watch it all on Hulu.) He was the bad boy, in a band, and brushed his hair out of his eyes a lot. Angela Chase, the show’s protagonist, was in love with him. When they got involved (yes, obviously this is television), we didn’t balk at the fact that he kept their meetings in the boiler room a secret, or that as it turned out his head was full of rocks. He was damaged, he was a puppy, we could rescue him and make him into who we thought he should be.

The thing about Jordan Catalano is that he might have been a babe, but he sure as hell sucked. What many of us saw as him being shy was just him being withdrawn and unable to communicate. When we were sure he was singing “Red” about Angela, he wasn’t, he was singing it about his car. And when he and Angela had broken up and he slept with her best friend? We danced right along to “Blister In The Sun” when Angela got over him.

And, in a perfect world, Jordan Catalano withered away and Angela moved on. But she didn’t. When Jordan, with the help of Brian (who had a thing for Angela for, like, ever) crafted a letter explaining his (and Brian’s) feelings, she took him back. He picked her up in the musically-praised car, and they drove off into the sunset, probably to the nearest boiler room. When the show was airing, I thought this was beautiful – they were together in the end, and that’s how it should be, right?

As an adult, I think it sucks. Angela made so many excuses for him, and gave Jordan so many chances that he blew every single time. I understand that we’re talking about adolescent men, here, but the character of Jordan set a precedent for that kind of guy, even in real life. In a way, the ending of the show validated his shitty behavior throughout the entire series, and made it acceptable to an impressionable me (and I’m certain, other women) to take someone like that back.

Jordan Catalano made the withdrawn, jerk boyfriend desirable. His character gave women the idea that if you just love someone damaged ENOUGH, they’ll write you a beautiful letter and change. But they don’t. And those dudes need counseling. And those dudes need to understand that no matter how many shearling jackets you don, no matter how many goofy, rare (and for that reason glorified) statements you utter about your car, or Tino, you are toxic to women.

And maybe women like me need to understand that just as much.

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