GOT MY MIND SET ON YOU
CTV AIRDATE: 4/14/08
THE-N AIRDATE: 4/11/08
DANNY/DEREK PLOT SUMMARY: Danny, Derek, Peter and Rachel team up to do a project together. Their idea is to create a video called “How To Get Girls,” and it also seems as if Rachel has taken an interest in “Double D” after she hits on them. Both guys are interested in her, but they also promise to never let a girl come between them. Derek and Danny get permission from a lingerie store manager to film part of their video in the store, even though she assumes that because Danny’s black he’s going to steal something. At school, Derek tries to ask Rachel out, but fails miserably. Afterward, Rachel asks Danny out and they go on a date without telling Derek.
Derek finds out about the date and is angry because he thinks Danny stole her from him. To get back at Danny, Derek places some underwear in Danny’s bag while they’re filming at the lingerie store. As Danny and Rachel are walking out the manager inspects his bag and finds them, and calls security. Danny and Rachel run off, and he ends things with her when she thinks he stole the underwear too. Danny heads to The Dot where he confronts Derek, who admits to putting the underwear in the bag. The news infuriates Danny, who informs Derek that the manager was racist. Derek tells him he only meant for it to be a joke…one that Danny didn’t find funny as he walks out. The group’s video project is seemingly unfinished until Derek presents a video called “How To Betray Your Best Bud, ” one he created because he felt guilty for hurting Danny. Rachel apologizes to Danny for coming between him and Derek. Danny is still at Derek for what he did, but just not as much once he realizes Derek didn’t realize the store manager was racist.
When it comes to Degrassi, it’s important to remember that there are multiple ways to look at any given episode. I’ll always believe you can look at them from either an educational perspective (the episode’s theme or life lesson), an entertainment perspective (the episode’s ability to keep your attention with fun or enjoyable elements), or some combination of both. Regardless of how you look at it, the most important thing an episode must do is make us feel connected to something, whether it’s to the episode’s topic or a certain character. Danny and Derek’s plot in Got My Mind Set On You fails to connect on any level.
This episode is fighting an uphill battle from the beginning. We’re presented a main plot with two characters who have been around for a while, but are so underdeveloped that the only thing they’re known for is being pigeonholed as a weak rehash of JT and Toby in their earlier, comic-relief years. The premise is decent: two guys like a girl, said girl likes only one guy and the other one becomes bitter. The story is overcomplicated with introduction of its racial element. This is NOT a storyline about racism; the racist store manager exists as a side issue within the plot, and it bleeds into the main focus of the story to incite more drama. What makes sense is the way Danny feels in the situation as a black male being discriminated against. It’s completely believable that Derek would go through with the his revenge scheme completely unaware that the manager was racist. Had Derek known and still followed through, that would’ve painted him as deliciously vicious character, something we’d expect to see from a Degrassi friendship. Instead, he’s nothing more than your standard jealous jerk.
Friendships on Degrassi are just as valuable to fans as romantic relationships are. We get a sense of who the characters are individually, yet we also become attached to their various friendships, many of them being battle tested over time. Out of nowhere, Got My Mind Set on You asks us to care about a friendship whose value has yet to be defined at the level any major friendship worthy of a main plot has been in the past.
The scene where Derek plays his video project in front of the class is an interesting one. It’s a moment full of remorse and sincerity, boosted with sappy music and editing that shows the characters’ emotions in that moment instead of verbalizing them. After the video ends, Mr. Perino sarcastically says “Real touching,” and gives the project a grade of C+. That’s the feeling one gets with this episode…though well intentioned, Got My Mind Set On You makes us feel nothing as we watch the trials and tribulations of a friendship we ultimately care nothing about.
EMMA PLOT SUMMARY: Emma’s frustrated because of Snake’s current sexual abuse case: she can’t have guests over to her house and when she goes to school all she ever hears is people saying bad things about Snake, despite Darcy admitting that she made it all up. She starts leaning on Damian for support, who lends her a book by his favorite author, Dave Eggers. The two spend the entire night talking on the phone and she learns that he volunteers at an animal shelter. That prompts Emma to adopt a dog and name him Eggers. She shows the dog to Damian and tells him it’s “their” dog, which freaks him out. At the Nelson family’s meeting with the union rep, Emma tells everyone that Snake is the only one who has been affected by the entire situation. At school, Emma apologizes to Damian for moving too fast, and Damian tells her she hasn’t scared him off because he likes her.
Let’s just state the obvious: Emma adopting the dog is extremely random. However, with that said this plot still does a pretty good job of portraying the pressure the entire Nelson family is under these days. Snake’s angst is gut wrenching for obvious reasons: Darcy might have admitted that her sexual assault allegations against him were a lie, but just the accusation itself (in the case of an adult molesting someone who’s underage) has the ability to destroy one’s reputation beyond repair. Not only is their household under constant pressure, so is Emma’s life at school, where the few who know the truth about Snake’s situation are far outweighed by those who gossip about what they believe is true. Immersing herself into anything and everything Damian is a much-needed escape from what feels like an inescapable turmoil in her life.
The power in Darcy’s rape storyline in Season 7 is that it’s allowed us to witness the effects it’s had not just on her, but on everyone who’s come in contact with her since. The story in this episode is underrated, as it uniquely shows the ripple effect of said event from the perspective of someone unfortunately caught in the middle of someone else’s emotional mess.