It’s so strange to think that we’re not even halfway through season 13, yet it’s that time of year where the writers begin brainstorming for the next season. As the writers begin tossing out ideas for season 14, Stephen Stohn has taken to twitter again to receive input from fans. To be blunt, some of the replies fans on twitter have sent him suck. Maybe it’s because I’m becoming a grumpy old man, but while reading through them there were too many responses for my taste that were:
1) sarcastic and unhelpful
2) unviable, or
3) fans have used the situation to deliver passive aggressive jabs about past things on the show.
Given the fact that season 13 as a whole has been disappointing and the fanbase has been quite vocal about its overall shittiness, you’d think that we’d take the show’s open invitation for input just a bit more seriously this time around (regardless of whether they use some, all or none of the ideas we suggest). No, they aren’t bringing back Cam, Adam or any old TNG characters. Also, they’re clearly not going to have a character kill himself or herself in the near future because of (insert reason or disorder here).
In regards to my own ideas I’ll get to those later (they haven’t really changed much from last year), but for now I want to look at some of the common and interesting ideas other fans have thrown out there.
Fan Ideas for Degrassi Season 14
Lol, good luck with that. Relationship drama has been a staple of this show for God knows how long. Fans say they hate relationship drama on the show, yet ships drive so much of the fandom’s interaction. And when girls in the Degrassi fandom aren’t talking about ships, so many of them are busy swooning over every cute celebrity boy in sight. The show sees that, therefore they see no reason to stop jamming relationship drama down our throats. I’ve said before that relationship drama itself isn’t the issue, the quality of it is. All we can ask from the show is that they give us relationship stuff worth watching, and not these nonsensical love triangles and squares that sacrifice main female characters’ redeeming qualities for the sake of some boy.
It’s safe to say that Schizophrenia, anxiety and OCD are the disorders people desire to see the most. There are two things to consider: the short term and long term. All of these provide an opportunity to create great short-term story archs, but how do they expand them in a way to keep the storyline interesting without becoming repetitive, and consistently represent the disorder without having to build a big plot around it every time?
For example, let’s say we find out this season that Miles has Schizophrenia. When a storyline isn’t about him, when he’s just a support character or something in seasons 14 and 15, how does the show tread the line of not being hardcore in reminding us Miles has Schizophrenia when he’s on screen (so that we don’t just see him as “that guy with Schizophrenia”), yet not pushing it to the backburner to the point where it feels like the show has forgotten he’s dealing with it?
It’s not so much Schizophrenia and OCD that I worry about, it’s the anxiety, which I’m guessing is a far more common issue within the fanbase in general. Even as someone who deals with anxiety every day I’d be excited for the show to have another character who also deals with it, but I also question how they’d be able to incorporate it into a character’s daily existence without it feeling repetitive or being extreme. I don’t suffer from depression, but like anxiety that’s one storyline idea I also worry about in terms of long-term portrayal.
I also love the ideas of Down Syndrome (they’d need to bring in an actor with Down Syndrome for this) and Trichotillomania.
I wanted to point out this tweet because it’s partly true, but at the same time partly exaggerated. It’s true Degrassi can be hit or miss with certain problems that characters face, trouble happening one moment, then later down the road it feels like none of it ever happened. But I do need to defend Degrassi’s expansion of plots here. The reboot in season 10 not only increased the number of episodes per season, it increased the amount of time the show could devote to various storylines, going beyond what the show was capable of doing in seasons 1-9. Whether we’ve liked the plots or not, seasons 10-13 have all contained multiple storylines and character archs that have extended far beyond just a handful of episodes.
Season 13 so far has basically been composed of nothing but long-running archs: Alli/Leo, the Tenner drama (with various plots within itself) and Clare’s cancer. And even if it’s only been dealt with occasionally, the issues Eclare are facing with having a long-distance relationship look like they’ll be around until the end of the season.
It’s very disappointing that the climax of Clare’s cancer happened so quickly. I agree that it would’ve been nice to see Clare dealing with that specific aspect of her cancer longer. However, the show has made the effort to explore post-remission life with Clare (whether it continues is TBD), instead of her suddenly being in remission and life immediately going back to normal like it did with Spinner. I will say that the idea of ailments lasting longer does correlate with one of the ideas I had last year that I still want to see: a road to recovery storyline (see below in my idea section).
There’s nothing to worry about with Zoë. The thing to remember here is that Zoë is a new character, and has only been around for 14 episodes at the time of me writing this. Characters are brought onto the show as strong “types,” but they eventually “level out.” At some point the show will develop her beyond a diva with petty tendencies because they have to (they can’t rely on the current senior girls forever, and they’ll need another girl in the mix besides Maya).
Whaaaaaaat? A storyline idea that’s simple and has nothing to do with relationships or heavy personal issues? That’s crazy talk, man.
It’s also a storyline that would be nice to see. And no we’re not talking about having a character work at a mall kiosk, making so much money they can afford to drop out of school, live in an apartment and buy a fancy 3D TV.
Yes. It doesn’t even need to result in someone getting beat up every day or the entire school taking part, but bullying is a storyline idea that can be repeated many times because anyone can be bullied for any reason.
Looking back on the ideas I posted last year, I was shocked to see that the first one I posted has happened: Death of an immediate family member. None of us could’ve predicted that Adam would die, but the purpose of me wanting to see someone deal with the death of an immediate family member is to show that there are things one simply can’t get over. I hope that Degrassi continues what it’s been doing with Drew, showing that while he can (and will) live his life, he’ll forever be changed and heartbroken over the loss of Adam.
Some of these are ideas I had last year, with a few new ones added:
For a TV show in which the school is the central figure, Degrassi puts very little focus on schoolwork, unless of course it’s needed as a plot device (characters getting ready for college, etc). When characters are held back it’s not because they have trouble comprehending the material, it’s because outside circumstances have forced them to miss significant time and they fall behind. The handful of scenes where we saw Campbell Saunders doing schoolwork in season 12 were brilliant, because he was legitimately struggling. In my head I see a long running arch of a character who struggles at school, either one who barely scrapes by or eventually becomes so overwhelmed that they feel like they have no choice but to drop out of school.
A Firm Antagonist
As I said above in my response to the tweet about Zoë, characters are introduced as a certain type of character, but wind up “leveling out” character wise (ex: Holly J was an over-the-top queen bee at first, but eventually became a well-rounded character we could love and sympathize with). Fans like and dislike characters, but ultimately I think the show aims to make main characters people who are likable, yet make stupid mistakes. But what if we had a character who was an asshole from beginning to end? Something along the lines of a troubled kid who shows no remorse for their terrible actions toward other people. We may see their home life and it’s horrid, and we may even root for them to succeed after seeing that, but ultimately they’re a lost cause because they just don’t care about becoming a better person.
Relationship Destroys A Friendship
Have you ever had a friend that started dating someone, and suddenly you’re annoyed because their relationship takes an absurd precedence over your friendship? What if you and your friend’s new “love” don’t like each other? What happens if this places a strain on your friendship, and your friend is placed in a situation where they have to choose between you or the person they’re dating? What if they choose their bf/gf over you? Friendships are silently greater than romantic relationships on Degrassi. There are multiple instances throughout the years where friendships broke down or drifted apart, but they eventually reconciled. I want to see a strong friendship have a gradual meltdown that’s beyond repair.
Traveling A Road To Recovery
If Adam had survived his car crash, his situation would’ve been great for a road to recovery storyline…someone who’s physically injured, and must endure tough physical and mental challenges just to get back to where they were before their accident.
Improper Student/Teacher Relationship
It can go multiple ways: they can revisit the route of it being a consensual relationship, or the kind where the teacher uses their charm and power over a young, naive character.
Peer Pressure Variations. Someone pressured into…
*engaging in illegal activity such as drinking, stealing, etc
*keeping a big secret for a friend or family member
The latter leads me into…
A Character Who Says No To Sex.
Months ago someone sent me a tumblr message saying they were bothered by the way Christians are portrayed on Degrassi. One of the issues was the fact that some of the characters broke their vow to remain a virgin until marriage, aka Darcy and Clare. I wrote a long response (you can read it here), but basically I wanted to point out that Darcy and Clare didn’t just up and change their minds on a whim just because they can, as if they’d decided to get a pizza instead of chinese food for dinner. Their specific situations caused drastic changes in their views, and when life forces you to question those views it’s not far fetched to believe people can change their mind about things (Darcy was emotionally fucked up when she slept with Peter, so she gets a pass in my book. Clare’s willingness to have sex before marriage “with someone she loved” was a result of her parents’ divorce…she now questioned all of the values they’d instilled in her because her parents essentially weren’t able to practice what they preached to her in some aspects).
The point of all this is to ask what if they were to exclude those life-altering events in regards to love and sex, and just have a character whose beliefs about abstinence remained unhinged? What happens if you’re a virgin and want to remain so, but you wind up in a relationship with someone who wants to have sex, and tries to pressure you into it (causing tension in the relationship)? There are multiple messages that could be sent with a storyline like that, and it’d be an interesting dynamic to present to young viewers on multiple fronts.
A Character Suffers A Relapse
This would be a long-term story arch taking over the course of a couple of seasons, involving a character with a dangerous habit (drugs, alcohol, or something the first thing that thought in my head when I thought of this idea…self harm). There’s the process of having the issue brought up and a breaking point is reached before they finally get the help they need. But instead of them being magically cured, during the recovery or later down the road they encounter a negative element that sends them spiraling down, back into the arms of their old coping mechanism.