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
Nicely said. i can see Eli sharing diaper duties with Drew & Clare thats if Eclare get back together (I really hope they don’t). All 3 will be in there lives forever even if Eli & Clare just end up as friends.. I feel that 3 are better as friends than anything more.
Miles scares me, this boy needs therapy.
I’m really interested where Becky is going, I do hope this Jonah guy does help her. In the promo where they hugged it seems they already know each other?
I feel like Degrassi always sets itself up for great plots, only to blow it, or not follow through at all. Like what ever happened with Imogen’s father? Will Jenna ever go and visit Ty before she leaves?
Imogen’s father having early stage of dementia would have been a great story to keep going. It would made her character stronger. Its sad they dismissed this. As they dismissed Clare’s sexual assult from Asher. I wanted to see if he was found guilty or this ruined his career. This would have been awesome too but no they did the cancer story instead.
It really depends on the storyline as to if/how they’re going to continue things. We think of all of the storylines individually, but the Degrassi writers are thinking about multiple storylines at once and trying to work out how to flesh them out alongside each other and piece them into coherent episodes. They’re also stuck in the mode of creating episode blocks that allow them to reset after storylines have concluded. With Clare, amidst everything else happening on the show where do they fit in the formal complaint and a trial that would ultimately be dismissed because there’s no evidence? One could make the argument that the entire point of that plot was to show that sexual assault happens and there are times where the asshole gets away with it (same as with Darcy), but they didn’t necessarily make it clear that was their endgame and left the window of hope for fans too wide open.
Meanwhile, you’ve got Imogen who doesn’t really do anything and there’s no excuse for not at least mentioning what’s going on with her family.
The Clare and Asher situation was sexual harassment, now sexual assault.
Kary… what do u mean in clares paragraph “assumed network restrictions”? do u believe there are pregnancy restrictions on the show? whatchu meannn
I think he means abortion.
Hinting at Clare having a miscarriage due to the short timeline to graduation. (Though abortion would be interesting in this case…)
in my opinion clare would neverrrrr do an abortionn ever ever
I think at this point, as cold as it sounds, Clare would go through with it because she has very clear-cut goals for her future and a baby poses a major roadblock. She’s also been through a lot with her parents’ divorce and cancer, so I think she’d be willing to do whatever it takes to keep her dreams of Columbia intact.
I agree that Clare’s sexual harassment case wasn’t properly played out. And having Imogen deal with her father’s dementia would have given her more to do, and it would have provided more of a reason for her to fail senior year, since taking care of her father would get in the way of her schoolwork.
Are your rankings going into the entire season, or just the first half? Since I figure the use of various seniors will prioritize out for the start of the series. Maya being sidelined to support for the moment feels likely, as an example. Not Jenna and Connor, but other characters. Especially while they build up the four new characters (and Tiny, who needs the most character establishment).
I am curious as to what they plan to do with Clare and the baby, since Clare is one of the few characters who could have happiness is family as an endgame (Clare’s two big driving forces are her schoolwork/career for S8, S9, S12, and romance/a love story for S10, S11. S13 was a mix of both).
I’m going to do them for the entire season. Since I’m doing it week-to-week they should fluctuate quite a bit, since screentime is a factor and featured characters alternate every couple of episodes. I expect the Tenners and Seniors to dominate, but it’ll be so weird to look at things once the seniors have finally graduated.
Also, I’ll be very disappointed if they don’t establish anything with Tiny this season.
clares gon miscarry due to recent cancer/chemo problems and it will be degrassi’s FIRSTTTT miscarriage if im not mistaken! and its happening to clare!! that poor girl yoo!! lol. they never cease to amaze me tho!! every year new issues! but thats if it happens of course lol
thoooo it would be CRAZYY if degrassi ended clares arc as 3 months pregnant and about to start a family jus like the promo hinted!!!!!!!!! omggggg
I love the idea of power rankings, Kary! Love it. I thought I had seen this once before for Degrassi (must have been the Degrassi Society iteration from s11 that you mentioned), but I’m glad you’re bringing it back. It’s neat to look at which characters are doing the most moving and shaking in terms of plot, character development and their level of influence on other characters and on the school at large.
First off, I think you’re spot on about Maya Matlin’s current ranking. Ramona mentioned on a recent Tumblr reblog that she is very excited for Maya in season 14. She didn’t give any further details, but it seemed to hint that there are big things ahead for Maya’s character development. In season 13, Maya was somewhat re-invented as Degrassi’s new resident Wonder Woman. She’s sleuthing and intervening so as to ensure that her loved ones are not in over their heads or struggling alone the way that Campbell clearly was. In season 13 she was also the one that bridged the gap between the grade 10 ‘haves’ (Miles, Tristan and Zoe) to the grade 10 ‘have nots’ (Zig, Tiny and Grace). With her close ties to both peer groups and her deep-seated desire to problem-solve, Maya has the ability to hold the sophomores together in a way that no other grade 10 character can. I think she will continue to maintain that level of power and influence throughout season 14.
Another thing that I noticed here is that you’ve shown how the seniors as a whole are slipping in power, which makes total sense given that they are on their way out. Most of them have already gone through their major dramatic hoops earlier in their tenure. Meanwhile, the sophomores are ramping up big time and while some people initially worried that the class of 2016 wouldn’t be able to carry the show (or rather that Maya as the forewoman, wouldn’t), I would argue that in some ways they already are carrying it. The sophomores are pretty dynamic and are comprised of a lot of bold and high-intensity personalities. It will be interesting to see how their power rankings shift amongst themselves as they head into junior year.
Lastly, I’m pulling for Tiny as well. I feel like Grace and Tiny are both great candidates for characters who started off on the sidelines but have the potential to become more later on. I think as they are woven further into the main players’ storylines, we will get to learn more about what makes them tick. Plus with Tiny, there’s this whole backstory with him and Zig over the previous summer that really hasn’t been explored much yet. All we know is that Tiny helped Zig, but we don’t know much else about their bond. Should be interesting to see that relationship get put to the test in season 14.
top five most prominent characters:
1. Clare. She’s the writers’ favorite. I didn’t think it was possible, but they love her even more than they did Emma. She has this major storyline and it’s her last season, so she’ll get a ridiculous amount of screentime.
2. Maya. She’s the new Emma/Clare, so it only makes sense. Hopefully, she won’t go down her predecessors’ path and become incredibly unlikeable and Mary Sueish.
3. Miles. The new “troubled but cute” guy. The writers adore these characters.
4. Drew. Another creator’s pet. I would have ranked him higher, but I think this storyline will revolve mostly around Clare.
5. Becky. It looks like they have a lot of plans for her.
Wild card: Zig.
Top five least least prominent characters:
20. Connor. I almost ranked him higher, because of his new makeover, but it didn’t net him any extra screentime in Season 13. Any plot he’ll get will focus more on Jenna. It’s really a shame, there was potential for a great Jonnor storyline from his POV. Not too many shows portray people with ASperger’s dealing with romance.
19. Chewy. He’s a nerdy male. He’s doomed. I think that his relationship with Frankie will be the only thing keeping him out of the black hole.
18. Jenna. She’s obviously the new Liberty and I’m not talking about the baby she gave up for adoption. She’s clearly disliked by the writers and her potential is wasted, but she’s still kept around for whatever reason. Any Jonnor storyline will probably revolve around her, which is what’s keeping her from the bottom.
17. Tiny. It sometimes takes several seasons for these types of character to get any development, but I can see him getting more screentime in the future.
16. Jack. For now, all of her screentime will mostly revolve around Imogen.