So I’ve reached a point in life I expected would happen eventually: the point where I’m too busy to write up weekly episodes reviews.
It’s kinda disappointing, because I’ve been doing episode reviews since halfway during season 8. Hell, over the years media outlets have never bothered to consistently write up the most simple of weekly recaps for this show, so I’m damn proud of being able to write up reviews for over 200 episodes in my spare time over the past 5 years.
The issue is my responsibilities at work have increased. It’s a great problem to have, because it means I’m awesome at my job. But it also leaves me less time to sit around obsessing over Degrassi until 4am on any given night. For me, reviews are something I simply don’t want to half ass; if I can’t put as much time into them as I feel needed, then I won’t bother. That leaves the door open for something that’s been a long time coming, and will hopefully be easier for me to do on a weekly basis: Degrassi Power Rankings.
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time; shoutout to the now defunct Degrassi Society, who actually went through with it in season 11. While he came up a top 15 rankings, I plan on just ranking every significant character a couple of days after every episode in season 14.
I already know what’s going to happen…there’s gonna be people who read these rankings and yell at me because “How dare you put _____ at the top,” and “You’re biased and clearly hate _____ because they’re at the bottom.” Before I have to read any of that stupidity, here’s the disclaimer:
*This is not a straight-up “favorites” list.
I asked people on twitter to rank their top 5 characters from the group headed into season 14, and a lot of the responses were people listing their 5 favorite characters. That is NOT what I’m doing here; it’s more than just love/hate for me. Likability is a factor, but this is not me saying (for example) “Ooooh Eli has been my favorite character for years, so I’m just gonna put him at #1 every week.” Or “God I hate Clare” and justify my undying hatred for her by putting her ass at the bottom.
There are multiple factors to consider, things like what the characters are doing, their plots and how they’re being used by the show. I know fans wind up drifting into that lala land where they demand all characters deserve equal treatment (equal screentime, development, etc), but here in reality that’s not how this show works and it never will. A Maya type carries far more weight than a Jenna type, and that also has to be taken into consideration.
*This is not a be-all, end-all list.
There are multiple ways to go about putting together a list, which means there are multiple reasons to justify why any given character should be ranked higher or lower.
Below are my rankings of the characters going into season 14, based off of how things ended in season 13 combined with a bit of expectations based on s14 promos. I don’t expect anyone else’s list to match mine. I do expect my rankings to fluctuate often; Degrassi has a lot of characters, and based on how this show is constructed they should be leap frogging each other throughout the season.
1) Maya Matlin
I just don’t see anyone else being at the top of this list right now (key words there being right now). Maya was fantastic throughout the back end of season 13. Not only did you have someone trying to be a support system for those around her, but a female on Degrassi that has enough self worth to realize early on that she’s not obligated to put up with a guy’s nonsense, no matter the reason for his behavior? It’s astonishing!! For all of the whining that was done by fans about a lack of “Cam mentions” since Bittersweet Symphony, hopefully one day people will realize that his death was the driving force behind a huge majority of Maya’s behavior in the second half of season 13. And as a show whose audience is primarily composed of young females, there’s nothing wrong with Degrassi featuring someone who’s developing into a strong female, no matter how “whiny,” “nosy” or “overbearing” people think she is. Now if only Degrassi will keep her focused on anything but boys for a while…
2) Becky Baker
Degrassi hit the invisible “reset” button on Zoë Rivas at the end of season 13 by having Luke and Neil found guilty of sexual assault. Becky Baker, however, still has to deal with the immediate consequences of having testified against her brother. Her storyline in season 13 was brilliantly grueling, and with a home life that’s leaving her feeling unloved and isolated, she’s left trying to ride out the rest of her tenure on this show with something or someone as an escape (Hint: it WON’T be Drew).
3) Miles Hollingsworth
This guy is frustrating. His home life is terrible. At times we see love and vulnerability from him; he just wants to be loved in return. However, he often has streaks of vindictive and nonsensical behavior. Miles has the greatest potential of any character on this show to provide interesting storylines in season 14, based on his tendency to engage in self-sabotage. There’s still SO MUCH to explore with his character, primarily the inner workings of his relationships with his parents. Right out of the gate in season 14 we’ll see tension between them and Miles once he reveals his relationship with Tristan. It’s just a matter of how much time Degrassi wants to spend fleshing out the complexities of this character and his family.
4) Zoë Rivas
It’s been a long time since Degrassi’s had a legit “queen bee,” and Zoë can slide into the role perfectly. In season 13 she could’ve easily fallen victim to Degrassi Personality Regression to the Mean, especially with such a life-altering event as the sexual assault. But we saw glimpses of her old self after Unbelievable (witty jabs at Maya and catty, jealous behavior toward Frankie). She is swift and aggressive toward anyone she sees as a threat to her own status quo (first up in season 14: Becky Baker), and the writers making sure she maintains that flare is a good thing for this show.
5) Drew Torres
We all know how the mechanics of Drew’s character works: 1 step forward, 2 steps back. As of right now Drew has turned things around after making some big mistakes in season 13. I’ve said it a million times that Drew is a guy who wants to prove to the world that he isn’t useless, and a baby with Clare would be the ultimate chance for him to prove his worth. Once Clare reveals she’s pregnant and all hell breaks loose I can’t imagine him running away.
6) Clare Edwards
If you’ve watched the 3-minute sneak peek of the season 14 premiere, just know that not everything is what it seems. The short timeline between now and Clare’s graduation, as well as assumed network restrictions make it pretty clear how her pregnancy will play out. Still, I’m pretty interested to see how she handles this massive Drew/Eli mess, especially when she’s finally forced to tell Eli about having slept with Drew.
7) Zig Novak
Zig seems to rarely appear on Degrassi, disappearing for long periods then reappearing out of nowhere. However, his absence in 13A made sense, and Degrassi did a “slow burn” in revealing what’s been going on in his life since that summer. I’m most excited for the gang storyline to play out because it looks to be the most difficult situation any of the characters will have to get out of. It also provides Degrassi the opportunity to add more depth to this character whose development is behind the rest of the Tenners.
8) Tristan Milligan
He delivered one of the best storylines of season 13, which was left unresolved and could return in season 14. In the mean time, he’s part of the most exciting new ship in Triles. It’s not even remotely surprising they’re together, because there were signs all throughout season 13 that pointed to Miles having a fluid sexuality. Tristan’s goal in life has been to find love, and the drama will come into play as Tristan experiences first hand Miles’ petty, destructive behavior.
9) Frankie Hollingsworth
I might be crazy, but I’m placing a lot of faith in the Hollingsworth family as a cornerstone of Degrassi for the next few seasons. Out of all the Hollingsworth siblings she seems the most stable, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have problems of her own. We’ve seen a sneak peek at her lack of self confidence, and I’m hoping we’ll get some younger-skewing relationship plots involving Winston that will play on her self esteem issues.
10) Eli Goldsworthy
I had no problem with Degrassi keeping Eli in season 13. Degrassi made it very clear a long time ago that Eli will be around as long as Clare is still on this show. At this point complaining about him and Eclare still being around is virtually pointless, because one way or another they will be gone from this show before the end of the season. I felt Eli’s usage in season 13 was disappointing (excluding the webisodes). It was like Eli was around, but he was downgraded to playing a very generic version of himself. With Clare being pregnant and the fate of Eclare guaranteed to be resolved once and for all this season, they’ll be forced to use Eli in a greater capacity now.
In the grand scheme of things we didn’t see all that much of Tiny in season 13, but he gets a bump in value since it looks like he’ll be Zig’s handcuff for the duration of this gang storyline. If he’s a featured player in promos and the like, then hopefully we’ll see more of his perspective during this storyline. The gang plot is one of my most-anticipated archs for season 14 based on 1) the existence of Vince as the gang’s leader, and 2) Zig and Tiny are in this together. It’s hard enough for one person to get out, but two at the same time?
12) Winston Chu
His lack of usage for most of season 13 made me wonder if they were going to pull a one-and-done with his character, especially with his best friend Miles having been featured so much. A relationship with Frankie Hollingsworth makes him useful for a while, and as with Frankie the hope is we’ll see more “innocent” plots involving his awkwardness and inexperience while the major characters hit the heavy stuff.
13) Hunter Hollingsworth
He had very limited screentime in season 13, but just like his siblings I’m excited for his potential based on his outburst in My Hero.
14) Alli Bhandari
Degrassi went hardcore with Alli for half of season 13, then things cooled off once she started dating Dallas. Alli’s in the middle of the pack simply because things have been quiet for her character for a while now. Despite being on the Bhandallas bandwagon, Degrassi’s “Golden Rule” dictates that Bhandallas’ probability of surviving to graduation is 0%. It’s anyone’s guess as to what will be the breaking point, but we all know it’s coming.
15) Mike Dallas
Dallas has been a heavily-featured secondary character with primary-character potential since he arrived on the show. He’s had plots here and there (and when he does they’re solid), but there’s no reason to believe he’ll have a solo plot unrelated to his relationship with Alli. His value will come with his usual charisma, as well as how he deals with the girl of his dreams slipping through his fingers.
16) Connor DeLaurier
He’s a character who slays the limited amount of screentime he receives. But as long as Connor’s restricted to occasional appearances delivering unintentionally funny one-liners, his ceiling is limited.
17) Imogen Moreno
In season 13 I frequently wondered why Imogen was still around. On occasion they’ll throw her a storyline, which eventually gets lost in the shuffle of everything else happening on the show. Her quirky nature is endearing, but her character’s role is easily replaceable. Imogen has forever been used as a plot device for other characters. Ironically, her plot going into season 14 will involve Jack who, for the most part, has been a plot device for Imogen. Imo’s relationship with Jack will make for a unique story, and this is one of the last chances we’ll get a deeper look at Imogen beyond the pigtails and weird outfits.
18) Grace Cardinal
She’s smart, witty and her existence adds depth to the Degrassi universe itself. But as a standalone character, her role is still very limited.
It feels like Stefan Brogren talked up Jack every chance he could in season 13. While she’s interesting and definitely has potential, I’m still waiting for her to live up to that hype, if not through this upcoming storyline with Imogen then by stepping out of the shadow of being Imogen’s love interest.
20) Jenna Middleton
So here we are, at the bottom of the first set of rankings for season 14. I don’t hate Jenna Middleton. She does well in the role she’s given. It just so happens that she has a very restricted role: she’s there to be a supportive friend for Alli and Clare, and she’s there to play Connor’s girlfriend in the senior circle. Jenna and Connor were paired up to give two solo characters something to do. It’s hard to imagine they’ll do much with her character this season and I’m not sure if I want them to. That would probably mean them screwing up the awesomeness that is Jonnor, which currently has the best chance of any senior ship to leave this show still together.
UNRANKED: Since we don’t know them, the newbies obviously…Lola Pacini, Shay Powers, Arelene Takahashi, Jonah Haak