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Today is my birthday.  I’m 31 now, and have no shame about still watching this cheesy teen soap opera known as Degrassi.  I’ve been watching it for over a decade now, so at this point I deserve to see how it ends!

As I get older, I realize the way I watch a show like Degrassi changes.  I’m single and don’t have children, but the way I analyze the storylines is far different than how I did 5 years ago, or how the average teen girl may view them at any point.  Whether Degrassi’s storytelling is on point or it just doesn’t work, I find myself looking for a deeper meaning in what’s happening than just hyper focusing on the superficial aspects, or what I call the “promo effect” (Promos sell angst and ships because, as much as you or I might complain about relationship drama on this show, fans of Degrassi are most passionate about ships).

For instance, it was very easy to get caught up in the hoopla that was Clew in season 13.  There were aspects of how it was presented that I didn’t like, but there were also points where the emotions and individual frames of mind Clare and Drew were in made absolute sense, and are completely relatable in the lives of many.  Your opinion comes down to whether or not the overall message, whether plain as day or hidden in the story as a universal theme or life lesson, outweighs the possible nonsensical parts of this show that must tread the line between educational and entertainment.

That leads me to this comment I received from someone about my review of the season 13 episode, Believe.  I got called out for being too biased…apparently I’m totally in love with season 13 and hate Degrassi: The Next Generation.  To preface it, I gave both Zoë and Becky’s plot and A+ in that episode, and gave very positive commentary about the episode’s very minor subplots.  If you’ve read this blog for a lengthy amount of time, then you know me giving an A+ grade to every plot in an individual episode is a rarity.  Us old men love debating and breaking stuff down, so in the words of Munro Chambers, LEGGO!

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Sorry Kary but you hit this one so wrong. You’ve always favored Seasons 13 and up to TNG and give almost every plot in every episode an A+. If the show was so good, the ratings would be quite a bit better . They’re tanking because the show is bad and that reflects in how the fanbase who cared during seasons 10 and 11 have all but left in Season 12 and 13.

The show is horrible and cringeworthy to watch. It’s WAY too romance heavy and rarely about the issues. this specific plot was a return to form but everything else going on in the show has been lackluster yet you still overrate it.

Hopefully, Degrassi gets cancelled and you get some time to take off your bias towards this new, trashy show and see how ingenius TNG was. People do overrate it but it’s not all hype. TNG was that show for a reason and no amount of A+s you throw at this new lazy plots and casts will change that. The ratings show it and the fans are all but gone.

Enjoy your day sir.

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If this person thinks I’m blindly biased, I’d hate to see what they think about the young fanbase this show’s targeted toward, fangirls on twitter and tumblr who have no shame in declaring their undying and forever-unchanging love or hatred toward characters and couples on this show.

Look, it’s very easy to share your opinion with the world, especially in the digital age.  You can jump online, say whatever you want and then go about your day, because for an overwhelming majority of people no one is going to really read into what you’re saying or hold you accountable.

But the issue with a comment like the one above is that it shows it’s TOO easy to give an opinion that lacks substance, because it offers ideas based off generalized reasoning, if there’s any reasoning at all.

1) You’ve always favored Seasons 13 and up to TNG
I don’t ever recall taking a “side” in the TNG vs the current Degrassi series debate.  But I do know that I’ve even written on this site that season 3 is my favorite Degrassi season of all time.  My current ranking of the seasons goes like this:

1) Season 3
2) Season 12
3) Season 4
4) Season 2
5) Season 10
6) Season 1
7) Season 13
8) Season 5
9) Season 7
10) Season 6
11) Season 11
12) Season 9
13) Season 8

These rankings aren’t set in stone besides maybe #1 (season 3)  and #2 (season 12).  #3-#6 could shift around among themselves…same goes for #7-#13.

Also, the grades given to TNG episodes without reviews are not the end-all, be-all.  They’re merely placeholders until I go back and re-watch the episodes with an analytical eye.  Again, I point out that how I look at the episodes now (far more critically) compared to when I added those grades (emotionally) has changed.  Remember when I wrote off Don’t Believe The Hype as one of Degrassi’s worst episodes ever?  Add a little perspective, and my how one’s point of view changes.

When I was younger, I thought the same exact way that some TNG purists think nowadays, claiming that TNG is amazing and their is literally nothing this show can do now to ever compare to seasons 1-4, etc.  I also had a top 10 list where every episode was from the first three seasons, and I was convinced that list would forever be set in stone.  Then I grew up and realized it was dumb to write off new stuff simply because it was new, as I sat around looking smug in my rose-colored glasses.

I’m not really into comparing TNG to the current seasons anymore to determine which generation is “better.”  I’m of the frame of mind that both generations offer things that the other one couldn’t or don’t.

2) You’ve always favored Seasons 13 and up to TNG and give almost every plot in every episode an A+
Of the 101 grades I gave to plots in season 13, only 7 of them were an A+.  Of the 58 grades I gave to plots in season 12, only 5 of them were an A+.  Of the 69 grades I gave to plots in season 11, only 6 of them were an A+.  The moral of the story is I don’t give out many A+ grades.

3) If the show was so good, the ratings would be quite a bit better.
That isn’t necessarily true, and the problem with this statement is that “good” is in the eye of the beholder and not indicative of whether or not a show can bring in ratings (aka look at any successful, trashy reality TV show over the past decade).  Any insight from the ratings gurus that might read this would be appreciated!

This commenter seems to hold the TNG seasons on a pedestal, unaware that TNG’s ratings went on a major decline during seasons 6-8.  By season 8, the shows ratings were so bad they weren’t in the trash, they were in a dark pit of despair underneath the trash.  How Degrassi survived the axe that year is beyond me, but Degrassi’s ratings can’t possibly be as bad now as they were during a season where this franchise should’ve met its demise.

4) They’re tanking because the show is bad and that reflects in how the fanbase who cared during seasons 10 and 11 have all but left in Season 12 and 13.
I was under the impression that season 12 is widely regarded as one of the best seasons of the entire series, and that season 11 wasn’t all that great coming off the heels of a solid season 10.  But the fanbase shifted in season 13, as I watched people I know personally lose interest in the show after 13A, and after that summer block I didn’t blame them.  I held on, and felt I was rewarded when 13C and 13D came around.  It’s also difficult to define the show “tanking” from a ratings standpoint given that access to said ratings is unfortunately limited.

5) The show is horrible and cringeworthy to watch. It’s WAY too romance heavy and rarely about the issues.  This specific plot (Believe) was a return to form but everything else going on in the show has been lackluster yet you still overrate it.
When people throw out this clichéd argument with no specific explanation behind it, it tells me they aren’t really paying attention to this show.  Too romance heavy? If someone wanted to, they could make a solid argument for that without a doubt.  But let me also remind you that Degrassi has been romance heavy since season 3.

However, the part that irks me is when people say this nonsense about the show rarely dealing with issues, or that Degrassi “doesn’t deal with real issues anymore.” You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that Zoë’s assault is the only thing of substance to happen in season 13, with a generic statement defining everything else that happened as lackluster.  I didn’t find Clare’s actual stint in the hospital to be lackluster.  Neither were things like Adam’s memorial, Alli’s batter woman syndrome, Miles’ emotionally-unstable behavior all season, Maya & Zoë bullying each other (which led to important discussions among fans within a fandom that often cyberbullies its own), Dallas’ race storyline, Zig’s plot in 1333 & 1334, Hunter Hollingsworth’s emotionally-revealing outburst in My Hero, Jonnor in 1325 & 1326 and Tristan’s emotionally-needy tendencies leaving him vulnerable to a sexual predator.  If you don’t see the issues, it’s because you’re not looking at what’s right in front of you.

There’s also a difference between pointless relationship drama (ex: Eli cheating and his existence in s13 being reduced to a plot device for Clare) and romantic plot points that serve a greater purpose (Clew’s existence).  When the Clew stuff was happening, did anyone actually stop to think, “Why are Clare and Drew doing this?  What’s the psychological reasoning behind their behavior and how they’re feeling?  Could it be that how they’re feeling is actually pretty common in real life?”

You can identify which people understand the difference by their reaction to things like the Zig/Maya/Miles situation in season 13.  Do you just see it simply as just another pointless plot about some Mary Sue having multiple guys fight over her, or do you see it for what it really is:  an examination of multiple characters as one’s personality issues (Miles) clash with another character’s personal issues stemming from their past (Maya). This is some deep shit happening in terms of breaking down everyday human interaction, and it’d be a shame if people don’t notice because they’re busy rolling their eyes over a faux love triangle.  I feel confident in saying most people hated season 13, but there’s one thing this season’s done better than most:  like a ripple effect, the characters’ personal issues and their ability (or inability) to handle them directly impacted everyone around them through more than just major events like a death or Zoë’s assault (ex: Miles’ interaction with everyone is impacted by his family drama.  Zoe’s jealousy sabotaged her ability to have real female friends.  Becky’s online interaction with Hunter.  Clare and Drew’s separate issues cause them to screw each other over.).

6) Hopefully, Degrassi gets cancelled and you get some time to take off your bias towards this new, trashy show and see how ingenius TNG was. People do overrate it but it’s not all hype. TNG was that show for a reason and no amount of A+s you throw at this new lazy plots and casts will change that.
I’m accused of being biased because I liked things in season 13, and somehow this person came up with this insane idea that I’m not a fan of TNG.  The funny part is this commenter is clearly just as blindly biased in their love of TNG as they claim I am in regards to the newer seasons.  They offer little besides making it clear that they think TNG was a masterpiece and season 13 was trash, and if someone like me thinks otherwise in any fashion then our opinion is written off as invalid.

You know, I think we can all agree that 13A sucked.  13B was okay (anything was better than 13A).  But for me, 13C is where this season really started.  It’s as if a switch was flipped on because the overall quality of the final 24 episodes of season 13 are miles above the first 16.  Everybody else may have written off all of season 13 as a total wash, but I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t like 13C and 13D.

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Posted by Kary

17 Comments

  1. I completely agree that the problems in the fandom right now are from people not understanding Maya’s storyline. It all started with people thinking that Cam was not ever going to be talked about again, but that is not the case at all. In fact, Cam is the entire reason for Maya’s behavior this season.

    For example, the parallels to Maya’s storyline from seasons 11 and 12. Right off the bat Maya is thrown into a love triangle that she doesn’t want, or thinks she doesn’t want. Just like in Maya’s first episodes on the show, she thinks she’s not interested in having a boyfriend and she’s proven wrong.

    In Paris, Miles was playing the Zig role in her mind, and Zoë was playing the Tori role. And just like the time between Zig and Tori getting back together in Season 11 to Zig and Maya’s brief fling in Season 12, Maya showed only a passing interest in Miles until Zig showed back up in her life.

    Seeing Zig trouble and having someone do fill the Cam role in her head, the stage was set for Maya to try it all over again, and by try it all over again I mean trying to save somebody who is mentally unstable while in the middle of a love triangle with them.

    Of course what Maya didn’t realize until it was too late was that Miles was really the unstable one. She was as hard as she could to project the two images where they didn’t belong. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t project the feelings she had for Cam onto Zig, and she couldn’t project the mental stability of Zig onto Miles.

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  2. I love this post so much Kary.
    After 13A, I thought I was done with Degrassi forever. I stopped watching the show and I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to come back to it. The only reason I came back was because I heard about the Tristan/Mr. Yates storyline, and b/c I always loved Tristan so much I was curious as to what this was about. I watched 1335 on a whim, and was shocked to discover that I actually enjoyed the episode. Then I watched 1336, and eventually went back and caught up on S13 in about a week.

    The interesting thing is that now I find myself not taking Degrassi as seriously as I used to. Storylines that I previously would have hated and found “cringeworthy” as this commenter said now just make me laugh. I take it for what it is (ie entertainment). That being said, the 2nd half of S13 was great IMO, and I’m more excited for S14 than I have been for Degrassi in a long time. I’m really excited for Maya/Zig/Tristan/etc to finally take centre stage, because I think the possibilities for these characters are endless.

    btw everybody has remarked that the ratings for S13 have been terrible, etc. Is there actually any proof of that? Switching to MTV must’ve hurt, because you can’t guarantee that the audience is going to follow. But I don’t recall seeing any actual numbers, and certainly things can’t be that bad with the DHX acquisition and all..

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    1. “Storylines that I previously would have hated and found “cringeworthy” as this commenter said now just make me laugh. I take it for what it is (ie entertainment). ”

      Totally with you there. In the past, I was so analytical and in tune with the finer details of what was actually going on with the TV shows I watched – and don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that; I think it’s great to be able to discuss such things, and Kary and other people who run blogs such as this one really do such a fantastic job! With me personally, however, at some point within these past few months I made the decision to just stop bothering to analyze TV shows and movies that I watch. I can openly state if I feel that something is good or bad, and that’s all fine and dandy, but I am finding that not being so gung ho about what’s being presented and watching it as, like you said, what it is — entertainment — makes it a more enjoyable experience for me. I just don’t take it all so seriously anymore. It’s an escape from the daily stresses of my life, and that’s just it. Just like all these reality shows — and to be clear, I’ve recently put an embargo on watching them; they’re funny as hell and all, but I was just over all of the ridiculous drama, and it genuinely reached a point where they actually weren’t funny to me, and I now find them legitimately cringeworthy. I lost interest in them, so I stopped watching them. It’s so much simpler to just call it a day and stop watching something you no longer enjoy viewing.

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      1. Degrassi is the only show that I put any real effort into analyzing, and at this point I do it just out of habit. With the new fall season on the way I’ll be watching 2-4 shows a night, and there’s no way I want to spend all of my time thinking about all of those shows in depth. Ultimately the goal of TV is to entertain, and not everyone wants to have to think…they just watch the show and enjoy it for what it is. I’m sure there are fansites that get into really deep discussions about The Walking Dead, analyzing the underlying messages about humanity, etc. But for me I’m simply tuning in just to watch zombies.

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  3. first of all happy brithday kary!

    great post. honestly, after watching s13 all together in the course of a few days, I’ve come to my senses that 13A & B are not all that bad. Yeah, the alli and Leo plot had a slow start and Maya and Tristan’s shenanigans were a mess, but I think that the real issue was the broadcasting schedule. it is so unappealing to be given a series of 22 minute episodes that all flow together in a “suspenseful” sequence, but when you’re stuck waiting a week between each episode, the storylines become nothing but a chore to watch. Especially being in the degrassi fandom, talking about the next episode all week, and then when the day finally comes all were given is a 22 minute unfinished set of plots making us want more, but not in a satisfying way.

    Blah blah blah, I feel like I’ve been talking forever. But I challenge everyone to go back to season 13 and watch them all in a row, no breaks. Treat the season like it’s one big episode or even one big degrassi movie special. They will all flow together and you will truly realize which episodes you enjoy and which you didn’t.

    After my big marathon of the season, I noticed that I enjoyed 13A much more than 13B. You’ve got Aislinns amazing cancer plot, some solid adam and becky stuff, a whole bunch of messy but intreauging tenner drama, all leading up to a fantastic finale. Id say the one pro that 13B has over 13A is an improvement on Allis plot. Besides this, we got boring clare and eclare drama, an awful drianca ending, an extremely pointless Winston and drew plot, and an out of place beginning to tristan and miles friendship. 13B shined with the maya and zoe feud, follow up of alli and Leo, and a few good drew moments. But other than that I think 13A definitely takes the lead, and I hope everyone else comes to realize it!

    Obviously 13C and D stand out as te best blocks of the 13th season, but I cannot express enough at how underrated the first two are. Watching all the episodes at once allows the story lines to flow, adds suspense, and let’s the viewer notice creative foreshadowing. I’m a huge TNG fan, but I 100% agree with you in thoroughly enjoying season 13. For me it goes up down as not the best season ever, but definitely up there.

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    1. You point out one of the show’s biggest issues over the past several years, which is the networks refusing to change the broadcast schedule (excluding the telenovelas) to make the show flow better from week to week. Since the beginning of season 10, nearly 2 episodes pair up to make a complete one-hour episode…even in season 13 (it’s still 20 two-parters, they just tried to mask it by giving nearly every individual episode its own title). The telenovelas worked well because you only have to wait a day for a new episode. It feels off when you watch a 30-minute episode that only tells part of the story, then have to wait an entire week for the other half.

      Without the telenovela, season 13 felt way too long, and would’ve benefitted even from air two episodes every week instead of just one. But 13A is definitely one of those blocks that down the road I want to re-watch marathon style, to see if I still feel the same way about it or if I’m able to catch things I might’ve missed the first time around.

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  4. As for the ratings, a lot of shows ratings are now being mitigated by a strong online following. Meaning that shows like The Legend of Korra can be online only, and Degrassi probably has a heavy audience in the online when it runs against shows that share the same demographic (as Viacom’s online system for Nick+Nicktoons+Teen Nick is generally nicer than those for ABC Family).

    As for the show itself, there’s a very big difference in the level of detail and directly shown traits to the plots and characters that wasn’t as available in TNG era. Remember the plot the US NEVER GOT? That hasn’t been an issue since, and that plot can be shown in the US. I am sure the writers of TNG would have pushed things a lot further if they could, while the current generation has been pushing things very hard.

    The problem is that the show is still a slave to the vocal fanbase, and the vocal fanbase wants constant romantic stressers. And it would be nice if they used other ways to show the internal mental states of characters other than romance, but that’s how it stands. The difference is, with the added air time, they can use time that would be limited to reinforcing romances to do other things.

    Is Season 13 flawed? Yes. But is the new series open to a lot more space to work? Also Yes.

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    1. Something I forgot, and probably had a very heavy hand in S13’s really lackluster start. I don’t think the writers were prepared for Jordan Todosey to not renew. Meaning they had to quickly write out a character that was pretty close to impossible to write out ‘cleanly’ (like writing out Tori, or K.C.) since they were keeping Drew around. Meaning the choices were new school (unlikely), divorce (recently done), and death (…what they chose).

      After that they had to spend a lot of time killing Adam, and a lot of time reworking various plots to work around losing Adam. I figure that the Adam/Imogen/Becky plot might not have even been a thing before Adam had to be written out.

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  5. You’re awesome Kary. That commenter is obviously biased toward TNG and against season 13 (and 12 somehow). They’re a hypocrite because you’re one of the least biased degrassi fans ever. Keep it up! :)

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  6. SEASON 13 WAS ONE OF THE BEST SEASONS OF ALL TIME!!! OF ALL TIMEEE!!!!!
    lol no but it really was a great season, tho i agree completely that it started shaky as hell and blossomed into something amazing

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  7. I didn’t read all of this, but the easy answer is that generally whenever you start watching a show, that time period is your favorite. Anyone starting with season 13 would probably not like seasons 1-2-3 etc as much as if they had watched those first. I think for degrassi it’s just amazing there’s a show like this running for that long of a period, and plus the original show from the 80s too.

    I think usually for any show, the first few seasons are the best, because they haven’t run out of ideas yet, that’s really the primary thing. It’s easier with a show like degrassi with a big cast and always the school itself to take experiences from. Hopefully degrassi can go for about the next 50 years. Or more likely it’ll end, then after some amount of years it’ll come back again.

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  8. Several good points sir. I was completely underwhelmed by the start of Season 13, but was fairly impressed by the ground they made up by the end of the season in terms of quality plots/writing. As someone said earlier, the more I thought about it, I felt Season 13 limped along like it did because of Jordan’s departure. I am assuming that it was unexpected on the part of the writers/producers.

    With that being said, I’ve come to one conclusion in my own mind (whether its right or wrong to other viewers). It is nearly impossible to judge one season to another like apples to apples. There’s new actors, writers, etc. that can alter the viewer’s perception of quality regarding this show. Its extraordinary longevity means different numbers of viewers will always have their favorite characters, actors, ships, and seasons as well.

    I thought Season 12 was as close to a masterpiece of acting, writing, and producing that Degrassi has churned out in years. It certainly had its faults, but every television show does. That is why, at first, I thought this season was such a let down. Once I figured that I as a casual viewer could only make season-to-season comparisons on a limited basis based on what I just mentioned, I looked at this season on its own. When I did that, this season definitely was weak starting out, but strengthened as the season went on. Again, only my own humble opinion.

    By the way, happy birthday sir!

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  9. Its amazing that some fans don’t understand that some characters caused some serious emotional domino effect from a simple mistake… And I bet season 14 will be repercussions of that emotional domino effect from S13… Example, Eli’s cheating, Drianca break up, Maya still dealing with Cam’s death and so on.. To me the most powerful ep was unbelievable that was & still will be the biggest emotional domino for many characters and families. I actually enjoyed S13.

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  10. Kary, I’ll be honest – I’ve never once thought of you as biased. Really – I see you as the voice of reason in the fandom, and it’s the reason I keep coming back to this blog – and not going anywhere else for my Degrassi fix online. You give a damn about this show and keeping us up to date – and you do a better job of it than TeenNick or MTV.ca. So, happy birthday, sir – YOU ROCK!

    p.s. – Sorry I’ve been quite the last couple of months – there’s not been much to say. 8~D

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  11. honestly i think that thunderstruck is so so important, and with thunderstruck you finally see the purpose of the seemingly pointless arcs in 13A/B. i think they laid great but very subtle groundwork for the miles/tristan kiss. the possibility of miles being bi explains a lot of anger issues, family issues, and his issues with maya. tristan’s issues of feeling unloved that have built throughout the season also come to light. i also thought winston revealing yates made a pass on him as well was a very well-executed and important detail.

    i was also pleasantly surprised by the way they tied up the loose ends for the zoe/maya feud. i personally find it rare for degrassi to address a rivalry that peaked several blocks prior and address WHY it happened (both of them admitting their jealousy of one another).

    i definitely agree that tng/s13 has their own individual strengths. s13 executed a ripple effect where things that happened earlier in the season affected the characters later on and tied up several loose ends, a strength that earlier seasons were not able to achieve.

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  12. I just realized what another part of the problem is. It’s not just that TNG had better actors, it’s that the new Degrassi always tries to take the edge off when something serious happens and incorporates something cheesy and irrelevant to practically every storyline. The old Degrassi had their share of corny moments too, but the show felt way more intense. They let the serious storylines linger instead of brushing them off completely or cutting the storyline too short. Degrassi’s getting better now, but in my opinion, gone are the days of seeing that Darcy post-rape, Marco coming out, Craig’s manic episodes, intensity.

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