I’m really enjoying these debates. It would be cool if you talked about the “Drianca” breakup and how the writers handled that. (Poorly, in my opinion)
With the Drianca breakup episode I remember giving it a good grade because I took a very narrow approach in my analysis. To summarize, I looked back at what they’ve been doing with Drew for several seasons now, constantly reminding us that underneath his stupidity he’s a guy with zero confidence in himself. From the point Bianca nominated him to be president, he became determined to show people that he’s not useless. His biggest fear is failure, broken down into not being good enough to succeed in life past graduation and not being good enough to keep Bianca, the only person who’s shown any amount faith in him.
In Spiderwebs, I saw someone’s worst nightmare come true and even worse, they weren’t able to do anything to stop it. From a life perspective that’s a pretty scary thought, as fear of rejection is one of the biggest dictators of human behavior.
But stepping back and looking at things from a widened perspective, you know something’s not right when even someone who portrayed one of the characters involved questions their character’s actions:
I became a big fan of Drianca and was also disappointed with how things ended between them. It’s not the framing of it that’s the issue…it’s believable that someone would go off somewhere, gain a new perspective on life and want to end a relationship because they feel they’ve changed. The sudden nature of it is what’s unsettling, which highlights a bigger issue: the show’s awkward integration of graduated characters, in particular two very important ones.
Eclare lovers and haters unknowingly combined to build up Eclare into the behemoth it became within the fandom, but if you’re just taking into account what’s happened on the actual show itself and not fandom white noise, Drianca is on Eclare’s level in terms of how much time has been dedicated to their relationship (It’s similar to how for years everyone talked about Eli this and that, but Drew Torres has been Degrassi’s leading man since season 11. No one noticed this until Eli was no longer a regular in season 13).
Combined, Eclare and Drianca have virtually owned this show for the past several years, and it was really weird how these ships were treated in season 13 with both having characters who were off at university. For years all this effort was placed into crafting their relationships, and suddenly key moments in their existence were presented in underwhelming fashion. Bianca’s desire to no longer be in a relationship with Drew happened off screen, as did Eli’s mental breakdown leading into his infidelity with Lenore. The odd thing is these instances are on opposite ends of the frustration spectrum; Drianca’s demise seemed to come out of nowhere, while we knew a year in advance that Eli was destined to have a meltdown without Clare nearby,and we saw none of it.
Seeing the perspectives of both characters in these respective ships was key in shaping them, but in season 13 the point of view of these relationships became one sided. Because Drew and Clare are still at Degrassi we viewed these relationship plots from their eyes, while Bianca and Eli were reduced to little more than plot devices. Knowing the emotion Bianca and Eli can bring to this show, it’s borderline offensive watching Alicia and Munro waste their talents to play generic, hollow versions of their characters, especially after watching Eli and his supporting cast (JJ, Lenore) effortlessly slay season 13’s accompanying webisodes.
Mentally I’m in somewhat of a bind because I’m disappointed in how these graduates were used, but I know Degrassi can’t spend a lot of time creating an entire universe elsewhere for a couple of characters making a handful of brief appearances. You can’t make s13 Eli or Bianca regulars because spending a lot of time following characters away from Degrassi doesn’t have a good history of working out (heck, even following the kids to Paris in 13A was a dud).
I guess it comes down to finding an optimal workaround, whether it’s webisodes (hopefully doing more than just filling in the gaps) or something within the show that can continue to maximize the value of former regulars now in significantly-reduced roles. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Eli in season 14, but regardless of your love or hatred for an Eclare or Drianca, these two are the types of couples that are far beyond the level of being treated as casual casualties of Degrassi’s golden rule: no ship is ever safe.