If you haven’t read my review of the episode Unbelievable, click here: https://degrassiblog.com/2014/03/12/degrassi-episode-review-unbelievable/

I was going to post thoughts about the episode that I couldn’t get to into in the review, but I came across a lot of interesting comments on here and on social media, and have decided to respond to those instead.  Thank you to all who comment…I don’t normally get a chance to respond, but I do read them all.  I know for me reading different opinions about anything in general helps me become a more critical thinker, and hopefully it does the same for you.

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“It seemed pretty OOC for Zoe to accept their help so easily, too. I can understand her hugging Becky, but I seriously doubt that she’d have been so friendly with Miles, Maya, and Drew after all that…”
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Often times viewers expect a character to behave a certain way all the time, forgetting that human beings are prone to human nature.  Zoë spent the past several days discovering she’d been raped, then was ostracized by the school.  She’s in an extremely vulnerable position, so I can guarantee you the past crappy behavior of Maya, Miles and Drew toward Zoë was the last thing on her mind at that moment.

Also take into account that ever since Zoë has started attending Degrassi; all she’s wanted to do is fit in.  On top of being sexually assaulted, Zoë went through the entire situation alone.  Even her closest friends Frankie and Keisha distanced themselves eventually.  Excluding Becky coming to her defense, Miles, Maya and Drew reached out to her when no one else would and showed legitimate concern for her well being (notice how when she first walked into the school in that scene there were TONS of people hanging around outside, but none of them bothered to talk to her and ask how she’s doing).  It’s also been established that Zoë’s diva attitude is somewhat of a front.  Why would she be like, “Fuck you guys, you screwed me over in the past,” then walk off when they’re the only people who even attempted to show they care?

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Following up this hard episode with a episode that really has nothing to do with Zoe doesn’t make sense though. I get that there are other storylines, but it’s not the right time after this episode. Even if they do follow up with it, I don’t see how you can go from “Zoe was raped” to “Jenna & Connor are having troubles” so casually

It’s more of the timing. Nothing in that promo gave any indication that a serious follow up in the immediate next episode would take place, which is really what is needed
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[NOTE: This is NOT me ranting angrily! Just honest thoughts…] If they follow up Zoë’s plot in What It’s Like that’s fine; if they don’t, that’s fine with me as well.  I don’t feel that they absolutely need to do an immediate followup in the next episode, and I haven’t really seen a solid argument for it that isn’t fueled by the extreme fear that them not addressing what happens in the next episode means they’re going to act like Zoë’s assault never happened.  Yes, we’re all quite aware of the show’s continuity issues, but it’s also kind of weird to jump from praising the show for creating an amazing episode, then without hesitation revert back to criticizing stuff on the show that hasn’t even happened yet.  What we’ve seen in season 13 is a massive leap in quality from 13A until now.  13C has been a fantastic block, and despite Degrassi’s being wonky at times, I’m doing this crazy thing where I’m going to have faith that the show can do things properly until they prove me otherwise.

Another reason why they don’t need to followup with Zoë in 1325 is somewhat based off of this comment:

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I actually think spreading out certain storylines is a good thing. That way, viewers won’t get sick of the character. Degrassi has had a bad habit of giving a character a bunch of drama in several episodes in a row (Paige’s three A-plots in a row in Season 6 comes to mind). Connor desperately needs a plot anyways. Now if this was another Alli episode, I could see the outrage.
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Since Degrassi rebooted the franchise in season 10, every two episodes are essentially two-parters, even here in season 13 with every episode given its own title.  Also, the episodes are still filmed in blocks of 4.   So plots are guaranteed to span at least two consecutive episodes with a possible expansion to four consecutive, with new plots getting rotated in and existing plots shifting from A to B, B to A, A to C, etc.

Yes, the show could continue with Zoë’s storyline for the next several episodes, but when does it end? How far do they take it to satisfy fans? It doesn’t matter how beloved the character is, if the show spends too much time focused on a specific character in a short period, people become tired of them…it’s something that’s happened nearly every season since season 4.  Degrassi fans are also weird because we like to complain about everything…if the show doesn’t follow up on a character’s plot the way we want them to, we complain about the show’s lack of continuity.  If they actually stretch storylines out so that they’re not wrapped up in a handful of episodes, we complain that the show is dragging things out (ex: Alli’s arch in season 13, which is still ongoing after 24 episodes).

Without the telenovela, I think people have forgotten how long this season is. There are still a whopping 16 episodes left.  Immediacy of following up on plots is not my concern, long-term consistency is.  I can imagine Zoë appearing in 1325, having lines, but they don’t show us how she’s feeling after the events of Unbelievable.  Okay that’s fine, but if several episodes down the road we see no indication that Zoë is still affected by her sexual assault, especially after the show saying we will, THEN we have a problem.

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I feel that Degrassi, in spite of tackling some sensitive topics over the past few seasons, is becoming too saccharine. Heavy stories are wrapped up in an episode or two, complete with an upbeat pop song, a group of smiling faces, and hugs and rainbows. When Paige decided to see Ms. Sauve after the events of “Shout”, there was a hopeful atmosphere in that last scene, but it wasn’t “happy”.
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For me the overly-happy ending was put over the top with the use of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” and that might be the only knock on this episode.  It was nice to see that Zoë wasn’t alone in the end, but it most definitely felt like a “sunshine and rainbows” ending.  Your example of Paige is spot on; episodes don’t always need a “happy” ending, just a “hopeful” one.

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The way ALL of the characters are friendly with one another and are always hanging out together now seems unrealistic. I feel that the insular nature of past characters was far more realistic than it is, now. Or maybe that’s what high schools are like in the age of social media, where everyone is “friends” with each other? It’s as if no character can have their own group of friends, anymore.
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I’m in a dilemma here, because I vividly remember complaining years ago that characters didn’t interact enough with each other, lol.  The idea of characters staying within their own social groups is more realistic, but I’m willing accept the trade off of everyone interacting with everyone nowadays because of how restricted the show would feel if cliques remained separated.

People complain about characters’ lack of screen time now…well imagine if characters only interacted with their close friends in these 40-episode seasons like they did in the early TNG seasons.  You’d have a bunch of characters disappearing for absurd amounts of time, then randomly reappear when it’s time for their plot.  Even though characters cross over and are friendly toward one another, I don’t really see them as friends.  Like you said, the way they interact now really is kind of like how social media makes everyone “friends” nowadays.

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I wonder if they’ll do a plot where Luke Baker tries to make a come back as a better person. I’m not saying what he did should be tolerated at all but it would be nice to see the point of view from his eyes and what he was thinking and what it would be like for him to try and get therapy and get help because Degrassi has never covered that angle before and it would be interesting.
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I doubt they will, and I’d be worried if they ever tried a redemption storyline with Luke.  Any sympathy or perceived sympathy toward a male who’s sexually assaulted a female would not fly in this day and age, especially on a TV show where the fanbase is predominantly female.

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Hey Kary, do you think this is the last time we’ll see Luke? I’m happy that this is the first time in Degrassi history that a rape plot finally sees justice in the end (i.e. with the rapist being caught and taken to jail). While it was true that it happened to Dean he basically got off scot-free. I want to see what happens to Luke to see if Becky stands against him in trial and just so we can see how he’d try to claim his innocence or something of the matter. It would be sad for him to leave and for them to hand-wave the aftermath of what happened to Zoe and I hope they drag this part of her out instead of just cutting it off here as the writers have done with some Degrassi plots in the past.
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It would be nice if we saw the trial, especially since we’re probably going to see how this storyline affects Becky, but my gut says this might’ve been the last time we’ll ever see Luke.  They’ve barely used Luke’s character as it is, so my guess is they were using him a device in this plot because they had no plans to develop his character.

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I find it highly unlikely that any school anywhere would let students print a bunch of pictures of a drunk, half-naked classmate and hang them on the wall. Those kids are not cops and they had no business investigating Zoe’s situation. Would you want people posting pics like that of you on your school wall? Even though their goal was to help her, I still find this completely unbelievable and stupid.
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The fact they had a superbly detailed photo board up in a meeting room is admittedly excessive, but to say that “those kids” had no business investigating Zoë’s situation kind of rubs me the wrong way.  That statement kind of implies that they should’ve just sat back and done nothing, when by the end of the episode the show was highlighting the importance of bystanders doing something.  And let’s be honest, in this day and age it’s not difficult to investigate things; anyone can go ask people questions, and search social media sites because today’s society is hellbent on publicly documenting every moment of their lives as if no one is watching.

The entire point of having the characters “play detective” so to speak is because they wanted the episode to run through the perspective of characters other than Zoë.  We know things were very rough for Zoë, but Degrassi also wanted to show the ways that other young people react in this situation, and they facilitated that through Becky’s point of view.

Just because they didn’t really show anything from the perspective of the police doesn’t mean they weren’t doing anything, or that they just decided to step back and let the kids take care of it (even entertaining the idea the cops would do that is silly).  But if they had run things through the cops’ point of view there would’ve been a disconnect with what the show was trying to accomplish, and this episode would feel more like an episode of Law & Order: SVU instead of a story that actively shows how different people react when this situation occurs.

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do you think darcy or zoe’s rape plots were better? where would unbelievable place on your all time favorites list?
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Though I saw someone point out how weird it is to try and compare rape plots, I do think it is important to examine them both and see how they’re similiar and different in telling a horrific story.

As far as individual episodes, Standing In The Dark vs. Unbelievable, I can’t say right now.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve watched SITD, and when I have free time I plan to go back and watch that episode.  But in terms of the storylines as a whole it’s still too early to tell whether or not Darcy or Zoë’s tells a more powerful story.  Darcy’s rape storyline is probably my favorite storyline of Degrassi TNG, because of how things went down after SITD.  We’ve still yet to see the aftermath of Unbelievable, which is coming up in the rest of 13C (and hopeful 13D).

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Posted by Kary

24 Comments

  1. Kary-

    Not exactly a comment on your comments, but perhaps a good time for me to ask a question that I’ve wondered about for a long time. I know that periodically, you’ve made references to certain seasons or episodes and you of course, review them all. I would be very curious to know what you feel is the best episode or maybe the best episode block of DeGrassi that’s ever been aired? I know it’s probably difficult, but I’m sure there’s one particular storyline that you view as the top performer.

    I think you do a great job with your blog. Not only have you watched and reviewed, you’ve also studied the show more than anybody not actually on the payroll. So, as a sort of barometer or gauge for comparison, could you narrow it down and publish your favorite?

    Thanks in advance!

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    1. I think after all is said and done, the best episode still has to be Time Stands Still. I hold Season 3 in really high regard, but I think season 12 is the most consistent season of series. What I really need to do is start re-watching TNG from the very beginning, and just review old episodes in order instead of trying to jump around. I’m holding off posting a review for TSS until later this year since this year is the 10-year anniversary.

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      1. Thanks. I realize it’s sort of putting you on the spot. However, when I read your reviews it helps a lot to know where the top is on your scale. When you really look at it, the show is massive and overall it’s a huge accomplishment for the creators and all the actors involved from the beginning to now. Honestly, I have a hard time keeping it all straight which is why your blog is a big aid for viewers.

        I’ll go back and check out TTS. It must be memorable as I have a vague recollection of it in the back of my mind. Thanks again and I’ll look forward to your re-watch and the subsequent reviews.

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  2. Didn’t Degrassi say last year that Cam’s suicide in Bitter Sweet Symphony would affect the characters through the end of Season 12 and beyond (They may have used the term “long term effects”)? Yet, here we are in Season 13 and they’ve barely referenced him in a direct or indirect way. I’m not saying they should have Maya or Dallas or some other character who was close to Cam say “I’m so upset over Cam’s death” every episode ,but Maya’s progression, in particular, from the loss of Cam to just sort of out of the blue dating someone else all feels very random. There was no bridge between the two events and there really haven’t been any lingering events from his suicide which just seems odd.

    I think part of the problem is the time skips between the end of season 12 and the start of season 13. Or the one’s that occur between any season really. The time skips leave too much room for you to infer things without ever really adressing anything. Whereas, with other television shows they do a better job of “closing the gap” so to speak.

    Basically, what I’m saying is Degrassi has a history of promising to follow up on something and never doing it. There’s no guarantee that won’t be the case here with Zoe’s assault. Sexual assault and suicide are serious issues that affect people for the rest of their lives. Not just a couple of days, weeks or months.I’m saying this coming from personal experience and knowing people who have unfortunately dealt with these issues. I think that’s the biggest issue with the Degrassi when it does these types of storylines. The show makes great, big sweeping statements about an important topic (Immogen’s dad’s Alzheimer’s, Cam’s suicide, Adam’s shooting at Prom, Bianca and Drew’s drug incident from Season 11, Dave hitting that girl with the car, the list goes on, etc.) but then it drops the ball on the continuity and the follow up (IMO more important than the actual event in some cases.) just a few episodes later.

    On another note, as someone who finished high school recently and was a student throughout the huge boom of the social media age I can say that the way the students interacted at the end of Unbelievable was certainly not realistic at all. It does not come close to properly portraying my generation. It was hopeful and a nice thought, but not accurate (Miles and Zoe holding hands? Really?)

    Overall thought the episode was pretty good. Much stronger than the material that preceeded it, but still not up to level of previous seasons.

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    1. I have to disagree with you on Cam’s suicide not getting a proper follow up. 12C could possibly be the best stretch of episodes the series has ever had which is saying a lot considering how many seasons the series has had. I’ll even dare to say season 12 as a whole may be the best season the series has ever had. Sure no one will agree with me but from a quality standpoint season 12 seems to be the highest the show ever reached

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      1. I doubt think he/she was challenging how good 12C was, but rather how well it followed up on Cam’s suicide. To that point though, I agree with you that Cam’s suicide definitely got a proper follow-up. Almost over half the plots that ensued afterwards were in some way related to Cam’s death.

        Also, I feel that people have widely varying qualifications of “proper follow-up.” Not every major event needs 3-4 episodes dedicated to the aftermath. In my opinion, Jacinta’s accident had very adequate follow-up…a full two episodes immediately afterwards. As for Adam being shot at Prom, that really wasn’t a major focal point of the plot at all, despite how hyped up it was. Vince could have shot into the air and the rest of the episode almost still would have had the same impact. But I agree that they dropped the ball on Mr. Moreno’s dementia though.

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  3. “Why would she be like, “Fuck you guys, you screwed me over in the past,” then walk off when they’re the only people who even attempted to show they care?”

    That’s not exactly what I meant. I’m not saying she has to be a bitch towards them, but the way they acted like best friends at the end was unrealistic, at least coming from my perspective as a female. You said she would have been vulnerable at the time, which is exactly why she would have acted more distant. That’s just my take, anyways. Maybe I’m just a bitter, cynical person, lol

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    1. Yeah I think we definitely saw that scene differently lol. I didn’t see people acting like they were best friends, I just saw people lending a hand to someone who’s alone. But of course in reality they’ll all end up being bff’s from here on anyway, because the show can’t keep Zoë isolated from the rest of the social group for forever.

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      1. The other thing is, all the guys there (except Tristan, who is Zoe’s friend before this), has a guilt over the event. Dallas treats his sports team as an extension of himself, Drew was suppose to prevent such parties, and Miles threw the party. The three of them doing the right thing, is penance for their actions.

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      2. I thought Dallas was a little to put off. After what happened to Alli I thought he would be more sensitive to Zoe’s situation. Instead he sort of reverted back to old Dallas of boys will be boys and lets protect our team from outsiders. After the Alli situation I expected him to treat the situation more seriously from the get go.

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  4. Fans don’t realize that everyone will be effected in different way, Remember when Stefan hashtagged “EverythingChanges” after ‘Basket Case’. Becky turned her brother in for rape, she may have issues with her family, she may be more Depressed and alone. Clare may rethinking about her own relationship problems with Eli about the cheating and the distance. did she take him back for the wrong reasons and why she brushed under the rug. Drew who has sort of been the same situation as Zoe, with Katie and also taking advantage of Zoe. I think this EP will have a trigger of the past emotions with relationships. We will see more double standards. Will many of the students stop sexual objectification with people or not.. The big one how is Zoe going to cope and deal with the rape. Is she going to push people away or is she going to keep her new found friends. But unfortunately some will not change at all.

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  5. Is there any couple on Degrassi that doesn’t have problems?

    Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:43:32 +0000 To: lornefreeman@hotmail.com

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  6. Hi Kary,

    Can I just say that you are awesome? I’ve been watching Degrassi for 14 years (since When Doves Cry) and I’ve basically had no one to talk to about it. Teennick has removed their message boards for some reason, and the comments section under each video really doesn’t lend itself to being too lengthy or analytical. Usually the extent of conversation I find on that site is along the lines of “so and so is so cute” or “can’t wait for next time.” But the way you just responded to so many questions and opinions on this one episode is so thoughtful.

    I created a blog & twitter yesterday because I just really wanted to talk to people about Unbelievable, but then I realized that you already have this incredibly amazing site that is WAYWAYWAY better than anything I could ever create. lol. I’m really going to try to be involved in your site from now on. I guess I just want to let you know I exist and might be posting some stuff on a blog / I shared some thoughts on this episode, but mostly I just want to be e-friends with all you Degrassi fans and say wow, thank you.

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    1. I want to agree with what Leah said. Kary you have been doing a hell of a job for a long time now. The Degrassi Facebook page is ok. You get Principals office and a few good web segments and cast interviews. However no one does more than write 15 words or less that the episode was good or bad and so and so should be in it more, etc. Thanks for keeping it real here.

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  7. I think they should have picked a song like apologize or something like that. I mean the best I can think of unless someone has better ideas

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    1. I think the best, and most appropriate song they should have closed the episode with, was the one that was used at the end of the special hour episode where Drew was taken in the police car to give a statement about the death of that gang member who tried to rape Bianca. The song was “Dead Hearts.” Someone made a great You Tube Degrassi video using that song also. It showed several couples coming together but than breaking up over the years.

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  8. i think the song matched perfect gve me goose bumps

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  9. I don’t know why people were complaining the police seemed to “do nothing”.

    After finding out becky accused the wrong person they told her they were going to keep the “evidence” she showed on the rape. Obviously to investigate further.

    They also made it clear they were interviewing everyone at the party and in the basketball team. And were apparently on hand during the game.

    As people said, they didn’t switch to the police’s point of view because the show isn’t about the police department. But it seemed pretty clear the police took it seriously, were in no way ignoring a rape took place, and were continuing to investigate just not “on camera”. I honestly don’t get what else they expected the show to do to show the police were investigating the rape.

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  10. I understand seeing the situation of what happened to Zoe from Becky and the others story point, but for a second there the story and show felt like a mix of law and order, scooby doo, and gossip girl. I just didn’t understand why they were running around investigating this as if it was a situation like who broke the vending machine. I did feel like grace’s part in the storyline was so random, especially the gossip girl like pictures and videos.

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    1. Mike, your comments about what shows it reminded you of were funny and true. I would also throw in that it had a touch of “Veronica Mars.” I guess Becky Baker was Veronica.

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  11. Ok I know the the song at the end was played for Zoe, but lol, that would be really awkward if they DID play that for Luke.
    ” I just wanna see you be free…”

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  12. DegrassiFanatic March 17, 2014 at 12:39 am

    I will say I thought Standing in the Dark was better….although it may be influenced by the fact that SITD was the season opener; also I’m biased because the subplot was IMO one of the best we’ve everhad(Toby vs Johnny, not Marco drama)

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  13. Dashaun Bradford March 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    IT was an amazing episode with a twisted that made me think about writing a report on Sexual assault which i can currently doing for English class. Its great to know that all of you watch degrassi. i love the episode it just made me simlie because of the twist with luke getting arrested so i guess luke is off the show or taking a break ill message him on twitter to find out.

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