Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through – I’d wager at least anyone much older than me probably won’t get that reference. Hell half of you my age will likely not know it, unless you have teenage kids. Perhaps you’d recall the old school version: There’s a way, if I look then I can win – everybody can succeed, in yourself you must believe, give it a tryyyy… At Degrassi Hiiigggghhh 🙂
Now that I’ve moved, we have finally gotten our Netflix back. This evening I searched for Degrassi and found that it is severely lacking in every incarnation except for the current “Next Class” show… So that is what I am watching currently.
I actually decided I best search my blog to make sure I hadn’t written about this show before – lo and behold I surprisingly hadn’t before; only mentioning it briefly in yesterday’s post – something I had conveniently forgotten.
As a young teen, Degrassi Jr High/Degrassi High was the edgy show. The show that portrayed real life teen issues using real teens. Something I am sure my parent’s likely would not have approved of me watching at 11 through 13 had they realised I was watching it when it came on after school – they were reruns at that point, only relatively recently having come off the air, and I watched them when Alice Springs only had two TV channels/ I tuned into Imparja whenever I knew it would be on.
Back in the day the show was real kids from the neighborhood, basically, who were not excellent or well trained actors. That didn’t matter to me; however, because to me their emotions were real and exciting and terrifying – through them I learned about teen pregnancy, the danger of drug use, dating abuse, domestic violence, and that children too could have fatal diseases.
As far as I was aware, none of the kids I knew had dealt with any of these issues – now I know that was likely blissful ignorance.
For years certain images remained in my head. The episode where Joey discovers that Rick is being physically abused at home – he goes to the school office asking hypothetical questions and then chickening out – which causes concern and social workers to show up at his home.
I remembered Spike dealing with being a teen mother and Shane jumping off a bridge whilst being high – causing himself a head injury that affected his mental faculties permanently. I remembered Kathleen getting beat up by her boyfriend, Scott. I remembered Snake finding Claude with his brains blown out in the school toilets. I remembered Dwayne in the toilets fighting with Joey and then freaking out, screaming at Joey to get away – lest he come in contact with Dwayne’s HIV infected blood.
It went off the air with a movie – with Joey having “fucked Tessa Campanelli,” and with Snake being the first on Canadian Television to declare “Fuck.” With Wheels – Oh my gosh… Wheels… my first badboy crush – drinking and driving. He killed a toddler and severely injured Lucy.
My parents may not have appreciated me watching such, should they have realised, but I am so glad I did.
I can’t be sure if this show influenced this thought process – but I don’t believe in keeping real world issues from youth. Sheltering them doesn’t help them when they enter the real world themselves.
In 2001 they brought back a new rendition – a new generation of Degrassi kids. I tuned in initially for nostalgia’s sake – because it was set up so that several characters made a return to the show as either full time adult characters or at least to make cameos. Wheels eventually returned having gotten out of jail and made amends with Snake – who had yet to forgive him for what had happened when we last saw him.
Spike’s daughter was now in school… and we followed her closely along with the new generation of kids.
The beauty of the new(er) show is that the production is a lot more professional, the actors are a lot more believable to my now more discerning eye. The beauty of this show is also that there is never ending lessons to be learned – never ending story arcs that continue to showcase hard hitting teen issues. Updating with the times as the case may warrant, but still essentially the same timeless themes.
I love that there have been now almost countless girls that have turned up pregnant over the years that all have handled their cases differently. There have been multiple violent episodes – school shooters, suicidal students – along with multiple kids with serious medical conditions – all dealing with different specific problems and all outcomes being different. Just as real life would be.
I came back to see Spike, Snake, Joey, and Caitlin as the primary returning characters. I cared about the kids in their life as an extension of their characters, but as they faded into the background as their kids grew and left the show, turning over to new kids (Snake is the only one who now remains as he is the current reigning principal) I started to care about all new casts of characters.
My husband thinks I’m weird for continuing to watch a teen drama. I’ve mentioned it to a couple other guys my age as well – they also think I’m a bit silly I think – even though they recalled it from their childhood too.
But for me it’s comforting. In a weird way it’s comforting to stick with something so familiar. It’s also comforting to hear sometimes that “Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through.”
*Image from lovethispic.com