RECAP: As the Feminist Club prepares for its assembly, Maya finds herself being harassed by anonymous accounts on social media. She feels as if she must fight back, and while doing so she learns that her home address and phone number have been publicly posted online. As the trolls threaten to show up to Maya’s house and rape her, she shows the threatening comments to police and they tell her they can’t do anything because the trolls have covered their tracks. As the death and rape threats escalate, Maya feels unsafe and doesn’t attend the Feminist Club assembly in person. Instead, she performs her song and gives an empowering speech to the students at home via livestream. While this is happening, the S.W.A.T. team bursts into her home after receiving a report about a shooting and hostages at Maya’s house. They figure out Maya has been “swatted” and the person responsible lives in the city, leaving Maya even more terrified.
Let me share a Degrassi fandom story with you.
One of the great things about the Google Hangouts Degrassi did years ago was that nearly all of them had a fellow fan I knew in them. I was happy for every fan who got to be a part of one because this gave Degrassians an opportunity they wouldn’t normally have to interact with cast members. After one of the hangouts, one of my friends in it looked online to see a bunch of mean comments that other fans watching the hangout had made about them. That person did absolutely nothing wrong during the hangout, but this fandom decided to go into “Mean Girls” mode for no reason other than the sky was blue. Those comments hurt that person’s feelings, and to this day what should’ve been a fun experience has been tainted for that person. As the commenters posted their nonsense and cluelessly went about their way, that one person still remembers the terrible feeling of reading hateful comments from complete strangers.
People don’t think before they post online. Or they think they can get away with doing whatever they want, because a lot of times there aren’t actual consequences for behaving like an idiot on the internet. In this day and age, you can get a sense of who people really are based on how they choose to interact with others online.
#TeamFollowBack shows how what you and others say online affects people in real life. Sometimes it’s something stupid, such as Degrassi fans acting like butthurt children and shitting on one another because they disagree over a fictional couple. Other times it’s people threatening to assault or murder someone for differing political or social opinions. In the episode it’s pointed out that online harassment campaigns as serious as Maya’s don’t normally end with actual harm to the victim, but that’s not comforting when your private information has also been posted publicly.
Maya’s specific online harassment follows the path of GamerGate, where several women were viciously harassed, doxxed and eventually fled their homes for fear of their own safety. The swatting incident is a haunting reminder of a real-life swatting that happened during a livestream (skip to 6:50 to see the SWAT team bust in). This storyline gets personal because like Grace I’ve told close friends, whether in this fandom or others, to just ignore the hateful drama queens and internet trolls. However, Maya’s plot reminds me that it’s easier said than done because it’s so easy for that hatred to consume your existence.
What’s funny is while I was writing this review about a Degrassi character getting harassed online, Degrassi actress Amanda Arcuri actually got harassed online for making a comment about, of all things, High School Musical. It’s coincidental, but not surprising; according to Linda Schuyler, “This is a show about real life after all.”
RECAP: Tristan’s dealing with pain in his genital area, and a quick google diagnosis from Zoë leads him to believe he has chlamydia. Initially he thinks Miles gave it to him, but finds out that isn’t the case. Unable to pinpoint who he might’ve contracted it from and too embarrassed to talk to his recent partners about it, Tristan uses a website that allows you to anonymously notify past partners that they might’ve contracted an STI. However, the plan backfires when Vijay (whose only sexual partner has been Tristan) busts into the student council meeting and publicly blasts Tristan for possibly giving him chlamydia. Later, Miles tries to console an embarrassed Tristan and we learn Tris only had a urinary tract infection.
This plot is pretty interesting, less because of the actual topic and more because of the characters in it. Despite all of the crazy drama that’s happened to Tristan and Zoë individually, they’re actually really enjoyable to watch as friends. The dialogue flows naturally between them, and they’re not afraid to make passive aggressive jokes or call each other out on their poor decision making.
The breakup scene between Tristan and Vijay in #NotOkay was pretty funny, but their conversation in #TeamFollowBack is even funnier. This is the second time Vijay has made a scene in public without a care in the world, this one being ten times more embarrassing. While I’m still skeptical about anything Triles related, it’s nice to see both were able to put aside their differences as Miles lends Tristan some emotional support.
RECAP: Frankie’s kinda excited at the thought of getting back together with Winston, but she begins to have second thoughts. Lola and Shay are all for Frankston getting back together, but Frankie can’t get over how badly things ended between them. While getting into another intense conversation with Jonah, who likes to lecture Frankie on how she’s not being honest with herself, the two share a passionate kiss.
The peanut butter analogy is a perfect explanation for how Frankie’s feeling. What’s so great about Frankie’s plot is that we see an actual shift in her thinking from beginning to end of the episode. She’s initially happy at the thought of reuniting with Winston, even upset when she thinks she’s ruined things with the pro/con list. By the end, she has doubts about whether or not she wants to rekindle things with Winston. We see the exact moment when this happens, as Winston reads “Frankie’s always so cheerful,” from his own list of why he still has feelings for her.
The look on her face in that moment expresses what she’s been saying this entire season, that everyone around her still thinks of her as the happy, upbeat person she was last year and not the person she’s become since Frankston’s breakup. I’m not sure of my feelings on Jankie at the moment, but one thing Jonah does is challenge Frankie’s mindset, pushing her to move forward as opposed to Lola and Shay aggressively lobbying for her to go back to what’s familiar and safe.