The End of Degrassi, The End of an Era

degrassi season 1
Degrassi: The Next Generation – Season 1

When I list my favorite TV series – E.R., Mad Men, Sports Night, Friday Night Lights, Freaks and Geeks, The Good Wife – I always mention Degrassi. I love including Degrassi partly because I enjoy watching someone process how a Canadian teen soap can possibly be on par with more high brow television. I also include Degrassi because it is a damn good television show that often gets passed over simply because it is about teenagers.

You can imagine my disappointment when news broke yesterday that Degrassi: The Next Generation would end its run on TeenNick and MTVCanada after 14 seasons. (Keep in mind, it seems likely that Degrassi will find a new home. Creator Stephen Stohn also tweeted something rather cryptic this morning.) Regardless of what happens next, I’m way more bummed about the mere possibility of Degrassi-less future than a 27-year-old woman should be.

Ironically, although I have an unabashed love for many teen shows (namely Skins), I didn’t start watching Degrassi:The Next Generation until I was in college. Netflix happened to be streaming some of the early seasons and I quickly got drawn into this television universe inhabited by totally normal looking teenagers. By the time Paige was dealing with trauma after being raped and Manny had an abortion at age 14, I was hooked.

Accidents Will Happen (Season 3)
“Accidents Will Happen” (Season 3)

Since my initial binge watch, I’ve caught up on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. I’ve fallen in love with so many characters and friendships. Ellie Nash is my long lost emo Canadian soul sister. I cried over J.T.’s death. I wanted better for Anya. I hated then loved Holly J. I shipped Eclare at first but I am totally over their relationship now. I could care less about some characters (sorry Chantal) and I will never understand Spemma (Does anyone??). And somehow after all this time, I’m never dissatisfied by an episode of Degrassi. Except maybe when Clare was hooking up with her almost stepbrother.

Everything imaginable has happened at Degrassi High. Abusive parents, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, cancer, murders, cyber bullying, mental illness, school shootings, gang violence, questionable sexy times in the Ravine. Hell, the school practically burned down in the Season 14A finale. What’s amazing is that it took 369 episodes for that to happen.

Unlike so many teen shows, Degrassi has never been out of touch. Thanks to its longevity, it has tackled issues well before they were cultural norms. Lately, the series has been eons ahead of most shows in its representations of teenage sexuality and mental illness.

Fiona and Imogen became a (short-lived) power couple.

fimogen

Cam, a hockey player, struggled to adapt to Degrassi and committed suicide.

Adam, a transgender student, fought for acceptance and then died while texting and driving.

Adam_1

These narratives, which are so prevalent in the high school experience, have been normalized and validated through the lens of Degrassi. Only The Fosters and sometimes Switched at Birth are consistently on par with Degrassi. Most other teen shows, with their weirdly too old and attractive casts, are too over-the-top and have too many vampires/werewolves/pretty little liars to really feel like authentic representations of being a teenager.

Degrassi has been around for so long now, many fans simply tune in for pure nostalgia. It’s been remarkable to read over the past day how many people actually care that Degrassi could end. I suppose there was always a sense that Degrassi, kind of like the real high school you went to, would be lingering in the background until you were ready to let go completely.

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The Five Stages of Grief, As Experienced During Liz & Dick

Lohan, I wish I knew how to quit you.

And now, a brief summary of the emotions I experienced during the last 24 hours as I watched the greatest movie event of our time, Liz & Dick. Perhaps you felt the same way.
Continue reading “The Five Stages of Grief, As Experienced During Liz & Dick”

LOL: The Coming-of-Age Movie You Didn’t Ask For

Well…I was attempting to write a serious post about Tinker Tailor Solider Spy this morning. Then I watched the trailer for LOL: Laughing Out Loud, a coming-of-age teen dramedy starring Miley Cyrus. LOL is a remake of a 2008 French film of the same name. Both films are written and directed by Lisa Azuelos. Somehow I don’t find this comforting and any chance of me being serious is long gone. Here’s the trailer.

Don’t worry. I have broken down LOL (colon) Laughing Out Loud for you.

Continue reading “LOL: The Coming-of-Age Movie You Didn’t Ask For”

5 Days of Christmas Movies: Love Actually (2003)

1. The Overly Cheery Romantic Comedy

I don’t watch many Christmas movies this time of year but Love Actually happens to be one of my favorite guilty pleasures. It is always the first Christmas movie I watch and it sets the mood for the rest of the holiday season.

Love Actually follows ten intertwining stories and many characters during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The cast is stacked with the likes of Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth and Laura Linney. Compared to the cats of other rom-coms centered around a holiday (ugh, Valentine’s Day), this ensemble is overwhelmingly talented.

But a talented cast doesn’t make Love Actually is the greatest romantic comedy/holiday movie of the aughts. In fact, it is far from that.

Love Actually is overloaded with characters and story lines. Some I really don’t care for, like Keira Knightley as the newlywed or Chiwetel Ejiofor as her husband. (Would you even know it? Ejiofor barely has a line.) And I cannot stand Liam Neeson’s widowed father act.

Writer-director Richard Curtis basically went nuts when he made this film. Can you imagine how sloppy and tedious the director’s cut with 40 additional minutes would be? (Hint: Very painful.) And yet, I still adore Love Actually. I’d rather watch it, flaws and all, than miss out on the wonder that is Billy Mack, Rowan Atkinson’s gift wrapping, or Hugh Grant’s dancing.

And because Valentine’s Day really is so goddamn terrible.