SHAY PLOT RECAP: Shay suffers a series of embarrassing events: she starts her period while running cross country, bleeds on Tiny and Esme makes fun of her for it. Tiny also gives Shay a gift in class: a couple of boxes of feminine hygiene products at the advice of Esme. Shay feels so embarrassed that she doesn’t want to practice and also considers not running in the cross country meet. She blames part of her embarrassment on Esme for bringing attention to her period, so Shay exacts revenge by putting fake blood on Esme’s seat in class. The move angers Esme and Shay gets in trouble; Shay apologizes to Esme, who in return gives her a box of adult diapers for being the “bigger person.” Shay says women shouldn’t feel embarrassed for having their period and decides to handle it by having the team run with “blood” painted on their legs. In the end, Shay wins the race and finds herself no longer bothered by Esme’s passive aggressive comments.
Shay saying “We have to stop letting it affect us,” basically sums up this storyline, which is a combination of a throwback to Emma Nelson’s classic period storyline and petty drama between two teen girls. “Perfectly natural, nothing to be ashamed of,” Emma said over 15 years ago, and that saying still stands true today.
So far I’ve been struggling to describe Degrassi: Next Class Season 3, and natural has been the only thing I can come up with. Even in the past seasons/generations of Degrassi that people have placed on a pedestal, stories would have an “after-school special” or “Law & Order ripped from the headlines” vibe, even if said stories were fantastic. But season 3 has been the closest to not only presenting teens handling the difficulties of life, but also presenting how complex the feelings and behaviors in these life situations can be.
It’s natural that Shay would feel embarrassed about this, and angry that Esme mocked her for it. It’s natural that Shay’s need for revenge is also fueled by a general disdain for Esme, who isn’t as horrible as people say, but can also behave like a jerk. And naturally these two aren’t even close to becoming friends, even after Shay apologizes.
“I…I mean she embarrassed me,” Shay says. “You’re the one embarrassed about having a vagina!” Esme yells. One of the greatest life lessons you can learn is that you can’t control what other people do, but you can always control how you respond.
GOLDI PLOT RECAP: When the class assumes that Goldi would know about suicide bombers, Rasha comes to her defense to say Islam doesn’t condone killing. Rasha feels bad that she’s keeping Goldi from her friends, and urges Goldi to invite Zoë and Winston over to hang out. While playing charades, Goldi refuses to give Winston a high five because touching boys is against her beliefs. She’s also asked about what the Qur’an says about gay people, and Goldi says the most common interpretation is that being gay is a sin. Goldi’s upset when Rasha doesn’t come to her defense on this; Rasha thinks Goldi’s being ridiculous over the high five thing, and becomes upset when Goldi agrees with the statement that if you don’t follow Islam in a specific way it means you’re a bad Muslim. Goldi feels as if she’s lost Rasha as a friend, and she’s tired of feeling different from everyone. Baaz reminds Goldi that plenty of Muslims practice their faith without a hijab, which she wears by choice. Goldi tries to remove her hijab at school, but after walking into the hallway she can’t bring herself to go without wearing it. While talking about immigration in class Perino asks Goldi how long she’s lived in Canada; she says she’s lived there her entire life, and she’s tired of people assuming that all Muslims are the same. Later, Goldi apologizes to Rasha, who tells her that where she came from she didn’t wear her hijab and shaking hands with a boy was no big deal. Now that Rasha has escaped the dangers of Syria, she says she wants to take advantage of the freedoms she has now, including being able to practice Islam how she chooses.
Goldi’s first major storyline presents an interesting tale about how difficult it can be to balance who you are with trying to fit into a society that thinks differently. Just like we saw in Yael’s plot in #IWokeUpLikeThis, where the show stressed that there’s more than one type of woman, Degrassi uses both a generic and more personal approach with Goldi to show that there’s more than one type of Muslim in this world. Even when it comes to religion, there are multiple interpretations of the holy word; while Rasha sees no big deal in giving a boy a high-five or not wearing her hijab, Goldi feels like she needs those beliefs in order to feel closer to God. We get a wonderful scene with Goldi taking off her hijab at school…as she walks down the hall she neither talks to anyone nor encounters anyone she knows. This makes the scene even more personal as she comes to the realization that wearing her hijab is something she simply can’t compromise on.
This storyline also follows a similar line of thinking to Frankie’s storyline in DNC Season 2, showing that questionable behavior when it comes to race/religion/gender isn’t always done with malicious intent. The class assumed “the Muslim girl” would know something more about the terrorists who commit acts in the name of their religion. A great moment in regards to stereotypes presents itself when Mr. Perino, without even thinking, asks Goldi how long she’s been living in Canada. Not only are we reminded that making generic assumptions about people based on their characteristics can hurt, we’re reminded of how easy it can be to *gasp* apologize when you’ve offended someone instead of being defensive or making excuses.
At the heart of Goldi’s plot is the fact she has no real friends. We’ve watched her interact with groups of characters (Feminist Club and the volleyball team), but she didn’t have any actual friends or anyone she could even really relate to, until Rasha came along. In this episode Goldi was stuck in a mentality so many people in this world have, that your way is the only way to do things and there’s no room for compromise. Rasha talking about what she went through when ISIS took over really hits home the fact that simple things, like the freedom itself to decide what you choose to believe in and how, is something we all take for granted.
MILES PLOT RECAP: Miles has been Oomfchatting back and forth with Lola for a while now, and he’s becoming emotionally drained from visiting Tristan in the hospital daily. When Zoë asks him if he’s going to visit Tristan, Lola steps in to say that Miles volunteered to work at her restaurant that evening. While serving on his first day, Esme makes a rude comment about how apparently Tristan has died and Miles has move onto Lola, which has Miles questioning whether or not he’s a bad boyfriend for not visiting Tristan in the hospital. Lola tells him that taking some time to recharge isn’t a bad thing, but Zoë’s now concerned that the rumors about Miles and Lola hooking up are true. Miles tells Zoë it’s ridiculous that she’s getting on him about not visiting Tristan when she doesn’t visit him either, and he cancels his shift at Lola’s Cantina. Miles visits Tristan in the hospital and says that he feels like he’s trapped, and pleads for Tristan to wake up. Zoë watches the scene and walks in to console Miles as he breaks down. The next day, Miles successfully pitches his play idea is called I.M. Hope, about a guy who’s boyfriend is in the hospital and he meets a girl online who helps him with his grief.
We’ve been waiting for this moment for a while now. For months Miles has been gung ho when it comes to Tristan, dedicating nearly every waking moment to him. But now he’s finally slammed into an emotional brick wall, with the hope of anything changing slipping away. “Just because you’re stuck here, I…why do I have to be too?” Miles asks Tristan. As expected, Eric Osborne knocks this hospital scene out of the park with his emotional intensity, and I love how Zoë sees first hand how hard things are for Miles after having given him a hard time about not visiting Tristan as much.
For many years now Degrassi has ventured into the “gray area” of life, and this is a cornerstone of Degrassi: Next Class Season 3. We see every character on the show doing good things, but also engaging in problematic or questionable behavior, wiping away this false idea that the characters on Degrassi are either “good” or “evil” with nothing in between.
This should naturally challenge your views, with the Miles/Lola situation being one of the most conflicting situations of Season 3. At this point in the season their interactions make me smile. They send silly messages to each other and interacting with Lola genuinely helps Miles with his grief. It’s easy to understand why Miles is leaning on Lola for emotional reprieve; finding comfort in something or someone is probably one of the most relatable things Degrassi could show us. But at the same time there are legitimate concerns about where this could lead, given Miles’ history of handling intense situations. Just like the status of things in Miles’ play, everything is “TBD.”
*Chelsea Clark is notorious for being a klutz, so how many times did she fall while shooting the running scenes in this episode?
*Esme’s existence in the Degrassi universe is one of the most fascinating things you’ll see on this show. There’s no doubt she’s kind of a jerk, but at the same time we consistently see people taking their dislike for her into such problematic and unnecessary territory (i.e. Shay getting revenge even though it’s no one’s fault but her own that she felt embarrassed, and Lola calling her “Stupid Esme” and Miles taking a jab at Esme’s promiscuity).
*Not only is this the first time we’ve seen the Nahir household, it’s the first time Goldi and Baaz has interacted with each other on this show.
*Tiny is always embarrassing people with various personal products…the scene where he got Shay the feminine hygiene stuff is hilariously awkward.
*How do you build a storyline without actually giving it a plot? The way Degrassi’s been fleshing out the play arc through Grace and Jonah for two episodes now.
*In the scene where Miles and Lola are Oomfchatting there’s a sign behind Miles the has details of someone moving and trying to sell their stuff. It looks like this fool is legit trying to sell their VCR for $100!
*La quesadilla es riquisimas.