Guys, this was a bad idea. Putting together a list like I work at BuzzFeed sounded like a good idea until I remember I had to come up with 32 things. I turn 32 today, and I’ve been a Degrassi fan for over 11 years now. I’ve blogged about the show for a solid 6 years. I never would’ve guessed this show would still be around after season 5. Or season 7. Or season 8. Or 9. Or 14. The landscape of the Degrassi universe and fandom have changed, but over the years Degrassi has remained stable, mainly because of the show’s ability to adapt.
There is no rhyme or reason to this…just 32 random thoughts below. It’s long as hell. If you get bored, just read #1 and #32 and call it a day.
1) Degrassi can improve your life (if you allow it).
There’s an understanding that people watch TV shows for different reasons. Sometime’s you’re heavily invested; sometimes you’re not. Sometimes you’re a fanboy/fangirl, and other times you take great pleasure in hate-watching. Outside of Degrassi, most of the shows I watch I do so with casual eyes, because it can be a chore to try and analyze every damn thing in the universe. And when it comes to TV, ultimately, we’re watching it to be entertained.
I know it’s hard to believe, but some people are actually watching Degrassi for entertainment purposes. Sometimes it really is that simple that a fan is watching the show just for a character/actor/ship and, well, that’s their prerogative. They might not care about the positive themes or problematic storytelling, and it isn’t your place or mine to tell them they should. However, there’s no denying the value of underlying themes beyond the drama that’s often taken at face value by viewers. An example of this is what I consider Degrassi’s most underrated episode thematically, Mirror In The Bathroom. An eating disorder is a serious issue in itself, but it’s not the true focus of this episode (and neither is Terri’s lack of body confidence in the B plot…excellent job by the show creating a correlation between the A and B plots on multiple levels). If you ask yourself why the characters are doing what they do, then you’re lead down a deeper path of understanding human behavior in general, and from there you learn how to apply these concepts to your life and the lives of those around you.
2) I almost quit watching Degrassi during season 6.
Fandom is a revolving door…people come and go because it’s just a natural part of the process. I’ve been a part of the Degrassi fandom since 2004, and I’d be hard pressed to find anyone else from that generation that’s still as heavily invested in the show as I am (I’m not bragging…hell I’m the weirdo for sticking around so long). However, I was pretty close to giving up on the show at one point during season 6. I don’t really remember why, but my guess is I hit that brick wall called “Degrassi fatigue.” Who knows what I’d be doing now if I’d quit the show back then.
3) This blog is “popular” only because I got lucky.
Bless you if you missed out on the wave of awesome Degrassi fansites and forums that graced the web during the TNG era. Think of fandom like school: people attend, graduate and eventually move on. The fans running those classic sites like Degrassi-TNG.com and DegrassTNGHO went on to do other things besides obsess over Degrassi. The largest forum on the web at the time, Degrassi-Boards, just up and disappeared one day. There was a lull in fandom around 2008, so I started a blog that summer. Erin from Degrassi-Fans (now Degrassi Online) started her site that same year. I gave up on this blog after a few posts. I didn’t start blogging regularly until a year later, the summer of 2009. If I’d started this blog now or at any point during the twitter/tumblr boom starting in season 10 there’s no way it’d stand out from all the other blogs in the crowd. If your main priority when blogging/vlogging/etc is to become “famous” or get millions of views, there’s a good chance you’ll give up quickly because it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s hard to do that type of thing regularly unless you’re legitimately passionate about the content you’re creating.
4) “There’s no such thing as privacy on the web.”
Spinner said that to Darcy in the season 6 episode, “Eyes Without A Face.” I will never, ever forget that quote. While that episode aired in 2006, there’s even less privacy on the web in 2015. It’s one thing to have fun and joke around with no chill, but this is a friendly reminder that in a world where behaving like a fool and/or jackass tends to be a prominent part of fandom culture in general, your behavior online doesn’t go unnoticed and isn’t untraceable just because you aren’t a celebrity or because you do it on a “fan account” separate from your personal one. How you choose to present yourself online can be telling of your character, how you’re willing to behave when you believe “no one is watching” or when there’s “no consequences” for your actions.
5) Give us a damn musical episode, Degrassi!
Degrassi is such a tease. Over the past few seasons we’ve seen quite an increase in the number of musical numbers sprinkled throughout Degrassi episodes. School musicals have also served as the backdrop for several blocks since the series reboot in season 10. Regardless of how lame (or painful) people perceive these musical interludes, I view them as a hilarious form of entertainment. With each generation of characters we see more and more of the actors themselves coming onto the show with a musical background. There’s no reason we can’t get a full-blown musical something. It looks like I’ll be blowing all of my life savings and 401K to fund “Degrassi: The Musical Extravaganza,” because if I go to my grave without having watched a Degrassi musical episode or webisode, you’ll be able to find my ghost haunting Canadians at 220 Bartley Dr, Toronto, ON M4A 1G1, Canada.
6) I was obsessed with Marco for a hot minute.
Not in a romantic way…I just wanted his season 5 hair and general swag as he remained in the mostly in the background during the show’s Crellie era. And freakin’ Adamo could pull off an (almost) afro and braids better than this brotha ever could. My Marco phase hit rock bottom when I excitedly discovered and purchased a jacket at a Rugged Wearhouse…it was the exact same one Marco wore in “I Against I.”
Don’t even get me started on the fact I spent years looking for that green Triple Five Soul outfit Jimmy wore in season 3. Dear God, even Stefan Brogren and his stripper twin from “I Against I” think I’m lame.
7) I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever watched a new episode live with other people.
The struggle of being an older Degrassi fan. #DegrassiWoes
8) I wish I had a copy of The-N’s promos for “Time Stands Still.”
I thoroughly regret not having the foresight to grab a copy of those from The-N’s website before it was refreshed years ago.
9) It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever be able to retroactively review every episode.
It makes me sad typing that, but real life dictates everything, and it never feels like there’s enough time to do everything I want to as it is. And that’s a shame because…
10) …Mother & Child Reunion is better than the grade I have listed (C-).
See, that’s the importance of going back to rewatch episodes after a lengthy period of time. I give the episodes grades, but they’re not always set in stone. “Maybe you need to get a little creative, looks at things from another angle,” Snake said to Emma in “Weird Science.” I went back and watched MACR again a few months ago and caught stuff I hadn’t before. Current knowledge also helps, seeing that Degrassi was all over the digital realm back when people were still using AOL dial up to connect to the internet.
11) I love Degrassi because it reminded me of a comic book idea I had that never happened.
I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this story before. Keep in mind I didn’t know Degrassi existed until I stumbled upon it in 2004. When I was in middle school in the 90’s I was all into art and sketching, and wanted to create a comic book about a group of teens dealing with teen issues. Like any normal person with a great idea, I never actually got around to creating it. The characters were always at the top of my mind though and I created concepts of them as teens, then toyed around with aging them up as college students and adults. The only sketches I have are them as adults:
Disregard the crappy drawing and the fact I named one of the characters after myself (I WAS 17 DONT JUDGE ME WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES). The point is, I spent a lot of my teen years obsessing over this idea that never came to fruition, so when I discovered Degrassi years later it was like someone had taken my dream and made it into reality.
12) Degrassi TNG is still placed on too high of a pedestal.
When you hear the old “TNG is better than the current Degrassi” argument, an overwhelming majority of the time people back up their argument with super generic points that only prove they’re currently wearing rose-colored glasses (ex: “TNG dealt with REAL issues teens can relate to”). Preference is one thing, but you’ve gotta do better than that if you’re trying to tell me why TNG is superior to any incarnation that’s come after it. In reality, each version (even dating back to Degrassi Junior High) has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, there’s a more authentic look and feel to the characters in the early TNG years, while for the last 5 seasons Degrassi has been able to extend many storylines further than they ever could during TNG.
13) There is currently 73.5GB of Degrassi-related content on my computer.
I can only imagine how much stuff is on the servers at Degrassi….
14) If I ever marry someone else who loves Degrassi while the show is still airing, there will be a ceremony on the front steps of the school.
Epitome probably thought I was joking, but I’m not. “Degrassi Wedding” with Linda and the Stohn officiating and giving us their blessing. Free snacks for everyone afterward, which means at least the writers will be in attendance.
15) If feel kind of bad for saying “Got My Mind Set On You” is the worst episode ever.
Kind of. Poor Matty H. I believe that was the first episode he wrote for the show (but years later he went on to win an award for his writing so there’s that). I have softened my stance on GMMSOY being the worst episode overall (that title might actually go to Uptown Girl), because to clarify, the B plot for GMMSOY was actually pretty good. Anything that was remotely related to or affected by Darcy’s rape was pure gold in season 7. But that A plot with Danny and Derek is horrifying.
The good news is it makes a point for my argument that, despite this fandom demanding “fairness” and equal screentime for all characters, it’s simply not a good idea for that to happen. Speaking of…
16) The “favoritism” argument has become so tiresome.
If I had a dollar for every time there was a complaint about Munro/Eli appearing too much over the past 5 years, I could’ve flown most of us to Toronto and hosted a Degrassi party in Bell Media’s parking lot.
The old man in me who’s been beaten down by reality knows how much it sucks when others are chosen over you. My love life has basically been “Sorry Kary, I’d rather date anyone else in the universe except for you.” The problem I’m having is that fandom is trying to present the argument that they don’t like Degrassi featuring certain characters/actors way more than others. However, what in the world do you think fandom is? It’s literally a version of favoritism that’s far more extreme than anything Degrassi could ever do. I’m not convinced that fandom as a whole is as concerned with “fairness” as they’ve tried to make it seem for over a decade now (even I was on that bandwagon for the characters for many years during TNG). You’re not going to hear people say, “Gee, I’m tired of them giving my favorite character/ship all these plots and wonderful character development, they should really focus more on this character that I dislike/don’t care about,” or “Instead of sending the same cast members to every event, they should send that one cast member lots of people now hate for being a jerk. Sure, we don’t like ’em/care about ’em as much as our faves, but in the spirit of fairness we should send them to We Day/The Emmys/Africa/generic press tours instead.” When it comes down to it, fans just want to see their favorites flourish, because at the heart of it all fangirls (and fanboys) will be fangirls (and fanboys).
17) The characters/actors aren’t even the most valuable part of Degrassi anyway.
Two Degrassi fans became friends upon realizing they had a common interest; they’re both huge fans of Aislinn Paul. One lives in Canada and the other lives across the Atlantic in the Netherlands. They spend lots of time chatting, become best friends, then finally meet up in Toronto and this happens.
Despite there being no parking lot party, a group of Degrassi fans descended upon the 6 and had fun hanging out with each other anyway. Degrassi and its cast are important in that they bring people together, but their value ultimately pales in comparison to the interpersonal relationships formed between fans of this show.
18) My senior year of college, I spent my entire spring break binge watching every episode of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi.
I don’t regret a second of it.
19) We must never forget that Linda Schuyler is the captain of the Degrassi ship.
In this digital age it can be pretty easy to forget about Linda since she’s not on social media. Stephen Stohn has always been a liaison between Degrassi and the fans, dating back to his days of being known as The Exec and posting updates to the “Shooting Season 3” thread on Degrassi.tv. However, you must always remember that this show wouldn’t exist without Linda. Oh, and she’s selling her house so let’s buy it and turn it into a Degrassi fan headquarters.
20) Picking one episode from each season as my personal favorite…
S1: Friday Night, S2: Weird Science, S3: Rock and Roll High School, S4: Time Stands Still, S5: Weddings Parties, Anything, S6: Eyes Without A Face, S7: Death or Glory, S8: Heart of Glass, S9: Innocent When You Dream, S10: Chasing Pavements, S11: Extraordinary Machine, S12: Bittersweet Symphony, S13: Believe, S14: Hero vs. Villain.
21) We’re way too hard on the show sometimes.
Though they’re not necessarily engaging us frequently, the Degrassi writers are paying attention to what we’re saying. It’s not necessarily that we’re in the wrong for criticizing them; if their decisions are questionable, you’d better believe it’s important to point that out as opposed to smiling and acting like every episode is flawlessly-executed. I think it’s that we tend to be much, much louder in our complaints than we are in acknowledging when they do something right (or as Drake would put it, “They scream out my failures and whisper my accomplishments”). I still loathe my review of a Kenna plot in season 11…the graph part was seriously rude as hell on my end, and holy cow I’m sorry for that childish nonsense, writers. That’s on par with some of the extremely condescending reactions they receive on Tumblr season after season. If people talked about us the same way we’ve talked about them all these years, most of us would be mentally unable to handle it. Call them out when they’ve written something ridiculous, but there’s no reason to be a dick about it so you don’t go around like me feeling guilty about it for the next decade or so. And also give them credit where credit is due.
22) Degrassi fans are even harder on each other, and we really need to just chill the hell out. Seriously.
In the grand scheme of the universe, why does it matter that trileslover33 hates Matlingsworth or that frankieismyqueen28 obsessively talks about Frankie 24/7? This is supposed to be fun. There’s gotta be better ways to spend one’s time in this fandom than fighting over the same stupid shit over and over (ex: Eclare for the last five years). This is supposed to be fun. For the love of God let’s not let this happen during Next Class with whatever this Tenner orgy is the show threw at us in 14B. This is supposed to be fun. Either way, a decade from now we’ll all look back on our tumblrs and think, “Man, I was a such a dumbass.” Yes, I’ve been repeating it on purpose…this is supposed to be fun.
23) I miss the Degrassi character twitters too much.
They’re one of the most brilliant concepts the show has ever come up with. All I can think is if I had access to those accounts for just one day…the havoc I could wreak on these fangirls……..
24) My most memorable Degrassi moment has nothing to do with Degrassi.
During my trip to Toronto, the ladies from Degrassi Online, Degrassi Experience and I all went to Wonderland (to add some Degrassiness to it…Munro Chambers’ brother was there performing, and there was a rumor Alicia Josipovic was at the park that day). I hate rollercoasters (my second biggest phobia) with every fiber of my being. You would have to knock me out, then drag my unconscious body onto one of those things to get me to ride it. Usually me declaring my fear of rollercoasters is met with everyone in the universe threatening to get me onto one (gotta catch me first, bitches!). Yet somehow, Erin calmly convinced me to ride one that day. I can’t remember what she said or did, but it was enough to get me to hop on that thing. Trust issues is a running theme on Degrassi and in the real world, so it’s very interesting that she’s the only person I trust to ride a rollercoaster with.
25) The second-most important thing I’ve learned from Degrassi is there is so much gray area in the world, and that’s okay.
The world is going to try and convince you that everything is either “this” or “that.” A majority of the time the world does not present things in black and white. With the 2016 presidential election looming especially, people from every political party will try to position things as the former. Most Degrassi characters are inherently good people who made stupid mistakes…over and over. Degrassi started leaning very heavily toward the gray area with the storylines themselves in season 10. There’s so many moving parts in the world; don’t get stuck thinking inside the box.
26) I’m predicting Zoë will be the first person to cuss in Next Class.
I hope it’s her telling someone to “Fuck off,” or “You can go fuck yourself.” Or maybe Snake is back and we catch him in the middle of a phone conversation with Joey where he says, “Remember that time I mentioned you had fucked Tessa Campinelli and Caitlin was standing right behind me? Haha ok yeah I’ll meet you at The Dot for dinner tonight at 8.”
27) I hope Degrassi is somehow able to make it long enough to where the children of former characters can attend.
It would be a LONG time before it happened, but it’d be cool to see maybe Paige and Ellie have kids around the same age who end up attending Degrassi together. People always want the former characters to return, but a lot of times it’s just not feasible for storytelling and scheduling reasons. After having gone back and watched Degrassi Junior High, I was far more invested in the adult characters in TNG (Snake, Spike, Joey, Caitlin) after having watched their characters as teenagers.
28) It’s okay if Degrassi rehashes storylines.
You hear it all the time when it comes to Hollywood…”Why can’t they be original for once?” Well, just because a movie is “original,” that doesn’t mean it’s going to be good or that you’ll be interested in it. The issue isn’t remakes, it’s shitty remakes that rely more on brand recognition to get butts into the seats on opening weekend instead of putting effort into making said movie a quality product.
Degrassi has redone storylines, and it’s not automatically a bad thing. There are things like the show churning out an awful student/teacher relationship storyline (Sav/Ms. Oh) in between Paige/Mr. Oleander and Tristan/Yates, but it’s unique to see how they decide to do things differently with the characters from different generations. Going back to point #10 above about Mother & Child Reunion, Emma’s internet plot was good. In season 6, the show retold that story with Darcy in “Eyes Without A Face,” and it was great.
While the show gets flack for redoing plots from TNG, did you know there were TNG plots that were blatantly copied from Degrassi Junior High? The season 2 episode “Drive” is a BORING episode, but one I love because it being boring is the point; bored teens lead to trouble. In a beautiful moment of continuity that spans multiple incarnations of Degrassi, we find Craig stealing a car to take for a joy ride just like his stepdad Joey did in the DJH episode “Trust Me.”
29) I think I have a ship “type.”
Sellie. Drianca. Parcy. Bhandurner and Bhandallas, which are ultimately interchangeable. Apparently I’m a fan of ships where either the guy is an underdog, or the girl is someone who makes the guy a better person. Projecting my emotions onto Degrassi, much?
30) I also think I loved the Crellie/Jellie stuff far more than I’ve ever admitted.
You know that whole “friendzone” thing that may or may not exist? Having thought about it recently, it’s really interesting how that love triangle was laid out in season 5. Ellie liked Craig; Jimmy liked Ellie. Craig didn’t want to date Ellie, who didn’t want to date Jimmy. This is a prime example of that gray area I was talking about in #25 above. It sucks getting rejected, but that doesn’t make the person who rejected you a bad person. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but people want who they want.
31) You didn’t have to do that, Degrassi.
You didn’t have to acknowledge this blog, or anything I do for that matter. You didn’t have to let me to visit your set, or include me in various #DegrassiSecrets that shall not be named. Thank you for all of your support, Degrassi team.
32) The most important lesson you can learn from Degrassi is to know you own value.
Congratulations if you made it through this long-winded blog post that I will not do again next year because it was way too much work. A lot of characters on Degrassi often show a lack of confidence, which leads to a rash of bad decisions. The most prominent example has been Drew Torres since season 12. He had no confidence in himself until someone else believed in him (Bianca). Even then, it’s not enough for others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. It’s really hard…I didn’t know my own value until after I turned 30. I’ll read people post personal things online and they’re so down on themselves and their future, and it makes me sad. Your sense of self worth is absolutely crucial. It determines the outcome of every step you take and every interpersonal relationship you’re in or will form in the future. “Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through,” is not just meant to be a catchy lyric from a TV theme song. Know your value, and you’ll be just fine.