During season 4 of The Next Generation, the evil, heartless writers (only kidding, they’re actually nice if you give them food) ruined my life by destroying my OTP, Sellie. The same happened to my Parcy, Drianca and nearly every couple you’ve shipped while watching this show. And then out of nowhere Bhandallas, a second-tier OTP of mine, became endgame. It felt good simply based on the show’s nearly 30-year history of breaking up couple after couple before they leave the show permanently, but in reality there was nothing special about Bhandallas’ departure. They left the show still together and that’s it, and upon the afterglow fading, an underwhelming feeling lingered within the undefined “ending” for this couple.
For as long as I can remember, us Degrassi fans have placed such an emphasis on couples being endgame; it’s a part of the fandom’s obsession with ships in general (we can complain all we want about Degrassi focusing so much on relationship drama, but like clockwork *we* fall so hard into the ship trap year after year…Next Class will be no different).
Thinking about what Degrassi did in the season 14 broadcast finale, on top of a question posed by Erin from Degrassi Online, it has me wondering whether or not we’ve wasted all of these years overvaluing “endgame.”
“What are your thoughts on Degrassi ships being “endgame”? Do you like seeing Degrassi characters get a happily ever after?”
The phrasing of that series of questions can easily be interpreted as “endgame” and “happily ever after” going hand in hand. However, Degrassi brilliantly dismantled the premise that endgame automatically equates “happily ever after” or the stereotypical happy ending with the way it quietly allowed three couples to leave the show still intact in Finally.
Let’s talk about Eclare for a moment, as if we haven’t for the past five years. The power this ship had over this fandom, shippers and anti-shippers alike, was astounding. Based on how the show dealt with this couple, paired with the narrative that Eli viewed their relationship as if it were a fairytale, we all jumped to the conclusion that Eclare would have a fairytale ending if they were going to be endgame. But then Degrassi went and set it up so that they’re still technically endgame (“endgame” simply means a couple leaves the show still together), but their future is unknown. The thing is their future is no more uncertain than Bhandallas’ or Jonnor’s. Ten years from now all three couples could still be together, or they could all have broken up. Climbing out of the powerful, emotional ship trap for a second, in general it’s hard for myself to imagine a “happily ever after” for a couple of 17 or 18-year-old kids without the show actually telling us, “Hey, these guys got married, had kids and lived a love-filled life as they grew old together,” or the writers giving us an update on these couples in season 43 of Next Class.
From a technical standpoint I do believe a correlation between “endgame” and “happily ever after” exists, it just isn’t as strong in the actual scripts as we want to believe based on the lack of immediate results we’re used to in all fairytales. But at the same time “technical standpoint” isn’t where fandom exists, and I haven’t taken into account an important variable…the fact Degrassi could be doing it on purpose, because ultimately they want viewers to make their own decisions:
“I feel like it’s our job as producers to present all sides of the argument. Then the audience can make their own decisions. Ultimately that’s what kids need growing up: the tools to make their own decisions without being be told what to do.” – Linda Schyuler
If this thinking is applied to serious issues on the show, why wouldn’t it also be applied to ships and their post-endgame status? Despite being given a hard time for their love of Eclare over the years, Degrassi knew what would happen if they completely catered to one side or the other in the finale. For now they’ve given fans the option to choose what they want to believe in regards to Eclare’s future. The same goes for Jonnor and Bhandallas; I’ve been given the option to believe Jonnor is most likely out of the three couples to still be together a decade from now, because they remind me a lot of Degrassi’s first ever endgame couple, Simon and Alexa.
So the real question is, are Degrassi fans overvaluing endgame if the “happily ever after” isn’t presented by Degrassi itself, a feat I’ve realized is extremely difficult to accomplish on this show? Even with that last part I’d have to say no, we aren’t overvaluing it. In the case of the Degrassi fandom, endgame is valued so highly because it’s seen as something that leads to that coveted “happily ever after.” And based on what Degrassi did in Finally, the fans are ultimately the ones determining what that “happily ever after” is.
I know “happily ever after” happens with many couples who are much older who know who they are.. people over 30.. For adult teen couples getting right out of HS is not “happily ever after” because they will change a lot, in there views and what they want, they really don’t know who there really are yet. They are still growing up.. I am a realist, thats how I see Degrassi and I like how they made Eclare endgame ambiguous because that is the reality, thats what Degrassi is known for. I feel the same about Jonnor, those two seem more realistic to get married, they followed each other to Los Angeles for school. Bhandallas is iffy due to the very much distance and I can see Alli & Dallas drift apart, same with Clare. Clare has no problem moving on, I hope Eli does too. Thank you for this.. :)
There’s this Disney effect, as this is where everyone learns romance, that 16-18 year old kids can meet a ‘true love’ and just run off together after slaying a dragon, or a bodybuilder, or whatever. It’s a very intoxicating dream, so much so we end up with a show like Girl Meets World. A show built on a couple that started when the characters were middle school/high school age and through all they have been through, stay together and have a kid.
And sometimes we need to be reminded that good things end, or if they don’t end they might turn into something sour. The thing I liked in Finally is, barring the one couple the writers didn’t care about, both major ships ended on a note specifically dispelling happily ever after. “Long distance is hard, but I think we can handle it” and “If I love you, I’ll love the woman you become” are both statements that it won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.
I don’t believe the value of the ship should ever be placed on when or how it ends, but on when or how it was best for either character. Eclare was awful during Season 12C and 13 entirely, but Eclare’s highlights come from Season 12A when it was its best (to me). I enjoyed Clew because I enjoy Clare faced with an opposite, and Drew faced with someone who can tell him off with gusto.
I think, of all things, the biggest insult any ship has ever had in the course of Degrassi was the retcon on Sellie to say they never had sex/a sexual relationship. To make Ellie a naive virgin going into college, and to make Semma ‘more important’ because the two of them did have sex. The retcon didn’t fit any of the characters, and it was just sorta… demeaning.
And out of the fandom reactions I find most questionable, it’s the rose colored glasses attached to ships that ended, badly, and finding that ending was unworthy of their utopic view of the characters. Maybell, Eclare (each and every time they broke up), Anya/Dr. Sexy, and Tristan/Yates all have a great deal of ‘you do realize this was a trainwreck, just a very pretty one’ attached to it, that the fandom ignores in favor of wanting happiness.
^ Thank You, even fans are over the age of 21 do this too. I think they don’t see the show as real issues anymore. It got lost somewhere..
You make a very good point. I think fans are the one who care more about the endgame than the writers. In reality, not a lot of high school relationships last but for the sake of television it would be nice to dream. Also, others things get in the way when an actor leaves the show and whatnot. I’m a Semma fan. If they would have ended with Sean breaking up with Emma to join Jay and him leaving to Wasaga, it would have been fine. But the fact that they brought that relationship back again in Season 6 really made them seem like endgame but he went off to the Armed Services and that was it. I stopped watching the show around Season 8. When I recently revisited the show, I found out that Emma married Spinner. I saw the episode and it still made no sense to me. It was rushed and these characters barely had any dialogue between them in the 9 years. They were only able to reference one scene from Season 1. Again, if Semma was left in season 3 and then she married Spinner later on then whatever. But they were brought back in Season 6 and they seemed more sure of themselves as a couple. I guess because Spinner and Emma were some of the few characters from the early years who stayed and writers thought it would be fun. But based on recent interviews with Executive Producer, Miriam, Daniel, and Shane- EVERYONE said that the Emma/Spinner wedding didn’t make sense and wished that it had a different outcome. It’s a big deal when people involved with the show and now unsure. One thing is if the relationship existed and it’s done. But what’s the purpose of having characters break-up and get back together multiple times if there are no plans for them towards the end. I don’t know. I prefer when things are kept open in case those characters come back.