My So-Called Life

Season 1 Episode 6

The Substitute

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Sep 29, 1994 on ABC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Liberty High deals with the issue of censorship when a substitute English teacher encourages students to write their personal feelings in poetry for the school literary magazine.

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  • A substitute teacher comes along and wakes the flow of thought and creativity in the students.

    Imagine going to your stuffy English class one day and have a crazy substitute teacher throw the entire class's writing project out the window while calling it all boring crap, making everyone start over from scratch. That is what Angela's substitute teacher Vic did, and it got everyone's attention. Instead of looking at it as a total loss however, he taught them to look at it as a clean slate. I loved that this teacher inspired the students and got them thinking about freedom of speech and of self-expression. It is always inspiring to see this, and I know it inspires other students as it did for me.

    I hated how they tainted the teacher and made him out to be some idiot who left responsibility behind. It totally blew any respect that I felt for him away. They mucked up the storyline with bull crap, and discredited what he said about thinking for ones self. I do however applaud the ending. Thank goodness it was not left on the messed up note of what a messed up person Vic, the substitute, really was. Instead, Angela "chose her battle" and stood up for a belief and a right worth fighting for.

    It was definitely an episode worth watching.moreless
  • A Dead Poet's Society-esque episode except with a teacher with an annoying accent and a dark past- that isn't even that dark. I've got to say The Simpson's does it better. (Possible spoilers).moreless

    I'm not a big fan of the types of plot's where a teacher comes into the school and revolutionises the way students think and perceive the world, especially when they command attention by throwing assignments out windows and lying down on desks instead of using the seat. Yep, not a big fan at all. At first i wasn't even sure where the teacher came from, considering his accent at first was somewhat English then very bad Boston-American, and then later, something else. But in my honest opinion, i found him very annoying.

    I know good teachers are hard to come by, i've had two in my life, both of which left too early like Mr. Racine did, except for better job prospects in better schools. But they didn't have to make a big splash by telling everyone how crap their work was, they got respect by treating us with respect and stopping class midway to just to talk to us because they didn't feel like teaching. Mr. Racine was just a very good orator, in a similar fashion cult leaders get people to join them. You don't need a good teacher to motivate you. It helps, but it isn't necessary. The episode shows sequences of other students going to the class to see him teach and the colour of his socks, and the smiles and enthusiasm on their faces. I'm sorry, but i didn't buy any of it. If anything i found him even more annoying. And then he actually proves it when we find out he walked out on his family. YES! A legitimate reason to hate him.

    I know the Mr. Racine character was there to inspire the students, but it goes to show how effective he was... only Angela was the one who photocopied and distributed the confiscated lit magazine. I could have liked him, except the actor who played him made him sound so seedy in a way. I was with Brian on this one: I have a right to not like him.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Brian (about Angela getting a ride from Mr. Racine): So, is there, like, anyone's car you won't get into?
      Angela: Right. I live my life to annoy you, Krakow. You're, like, my world.
      Brian: Shut up. I mean, he's old. He's a teacher.
      Angela: What? You think I, like, did something with him?
      Brian: I don't know. How do I know?
      Angela: Are you demented? Do you just view everything in terms of sex?
      Brian: Not everything.

    • Gir1 #l about the sex Haiku): First of all, whoever wrote it had like zero self-respect.
      Girl #2: I know, I mean, to do it in your basement.
      Girl #1: I know, my basement is, like, so filthy.
      Girl #2: She has no self-esteem or she, like, would sign her name.
      Sharon (interrupting): Look. He said not to sign it, okay? It should be anonymous, okay? It was, like, a rule he made in class, okay?
      Girl #1: Um, excuse me. Try your own conversation.
      Girl #2: Plus a muscle relaxer.

    • Patty: So what is this substitute person like? Is Brian Krakow right? Is he mentally ill?
      Graham: Ah, possibly. I mean, he, um, didn't give me any Kool-Aid to drink, or anything like that. No, actually, he's a pretty cool guy.
      Patty: Cool? Cool is not what substitutes are. Substitutes have hard to pronounce last names and bad haircuts.
      Graham: Well, this substitute is cool.
      Patty: He's not a substitute. Maybe he's a narc.
      Graham: Maybe you're a narc.

    • Mr. Racine: Write it down. Whatever you feel like saying write it down instead. What you never told anyone. What you never even told yourself. And don't fear exposure. No one is to put his or her name down. This will be completely anonymous.
      Rayanne (whispering to Angela): Just how I like sex.

    • Angela: So what are we supposed to do?
      Mr. Racine: Ah, I've known you all of five minutes and you want me to tell you what you are supposed to do? Fine, follow your hearts and veer away from heroin.
      Angela: No, I meant in the next forty-seven minutes.
      Mr. Racine: I know what you meant. That was sarcasm.

    • Yvette: So, why are you here. You the new substitute?
      Vic: Why am I here? Yeah, good question. I'm the new substitute. I'm the new substitute. Yes. I'm here quite simply to get paid.
      Student: Yeah, right.
      Vic: Assuming all of you can read and write, I don't perceive any emergency situation. That's all. Continue wasting your lives.

    • Mr. Racine (reading the Haiku that Sharon wrote to the class): "His lips taste my juicy sweetness. My legs tangle with his. We become one being. A burning furnace, in the cold cement basement of love..." Hormones. What would we do without them? Comments? Questions?
      Student: Who, uh, wrote that?

    • Angela: Maybe teachers have a hidden life. Where they're actually… like, human. Where they have, I don't know… dignity. Or maybe not.

    • Sharon: Oh god, do you know how over my life will be when people find out ..I..wrote it?
      Rayanne: Do you know how over mine's gonna be when they find out I ...didn't...?

    • Rickie (reading Angela's poem): There once lived a girl. She lived in a house made of gingerbread and candy. She was always asleep. One day she woke up, and found that the candy had mold on it. Her father blew her a kiss, and the house came crashing down. She walked down the street. Only the people were made of paper. She blew them all a kiss, and watched as they all floated away...

    • Mr. Racine: This is the most gaunt awful crap I've ever read in my life!

    • Angela: There once lived a girl.
      She lived in a house made of gingerbread and candy.
      She was always asleep.
      One day, she woke up.
      One day, she woke up.

  • NOTES (2)


    • Patty (trying to figure out if Angela wrote the sex haiku): You know what we need? A sample of her handwriting.
      Graham: Who are we? The KGB?

      The KGB is the Russian abbreviation for "Committee for State Security," the oppressive police and intelligence agency that controlled Russia from 1954 until 1991.

    • The name of the literature teacher Mr Racine is an allusion to the famous French dramatist Jean Racine who lived in the 17th century and was one of the three most renowned playwrights of his time, along with Molière and Corneille.

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