Degrassi Junior High “Revolution!” (part 2 of 4)
The boys walk into Raditch’s classroom and take their seats. Stephanie enters in tarted-up mode, and sits down right in front of Wheels, turned around in the chair. She asks if he wants to go to a movie this weekend. Wheels immediately blurts out, “I can’t!” He says he has to “study”, and Stephanie can’t believe he really means that. But he says that due to the bad grades on his last report card, he has to do well, or his parents will kill him. Check out the continuity with the previous episode!
Stephanie is fully mortified. She turns to get up, and briefly makes eye contact with Spike, who’s stifling a laugh. Yeah, Spike, of all people, is laughing at Stephanie.
Steph goes to her seat. Wheels suggests they could go out over the holiday break, but Stephanie, barely holding back her anger, just says “Maybe” through clenched teeth.
Enter Mr. Raditch. After pulling Joey’s hat off his head, he announces to the class that he’s finished preparing their midterm exam. And then, suddenly, the entire classroom is filled with demonic laughter. Where is that coming from? Is the school haunted? Is Voula possessed? As it turns out, that evil chuckle is emanating from Mr. Raditch himself, who follows it up with, “And it’s a reeeeeal doozy!”
Now that he’s all done giving the entire class (and me) nightmares, Raditch proceeds to use this time to make fun of Joey. He says he hopes he won’t be seeing Joey in his class next year, and boy, are those some prophetic words. Everyone chuckles, and Wheels turns in his seat to laugh at Joey. And then he happens to link eyes with Stephanie, who’s staring at him with a look of pure rage. There are daggers of love shooting out of her eyes at Wheels.
And now it’s over to Ms. Avery’s class, where she’s prepping her students for her midterm. She warns them, “There will be a map of Africa on your test!” Not for any particular reason, mind you. There’ll just be a map there. It’s actually an algebra test.
The bell immediately rings, of course, but Avery keeps everyone three seconds longer so she can explain that the purpose of the test is to see how well they’re “taking in the things that we’ve been discussing.” Okay, if these kids haven’t grasped the basic purpose of an exam yet, the Zambezi River is the least of their concerns.
On the way out, VP Susie Rivera comes up to Yick and says she agrees with the other girls, and thinks that Yick would make a great sports rep. And Susie now has her hair in braids, complete with Stevie Wonder-style white beads at the tip of each braid. It’s not a great look for her.
All the other kids gather around, and they’re all in agreement that Yick would be a great sports rep. And he’s a Grade 7, which is important because, as Kathleen points out, sports rep is always a Grade 7 position. Well, duh, of course it is. Who didn’t know that? Susie tells Yick to go talk to Stephanie about getting the position.
Cut to Stephanie at her locker with the Twins, still furious at Wheels. She stares at him across the hallway and says, “I’m gonna make him pay for this!” Gee, she doesn’t take rejection all that well, does she?
Like a true friend, Erica helps Stephanie brainstorm ways to get back at Wheels. She suggests being “really nice” to someone else. And she immediately figures out the perfect person to be nice to: Joey. He’s one of Wheels’ best friends, and he’s in love with Stephanie, so who better?
Heather says, “I don’t think this is such a good idea!” She should really just get that sentence tattooed across her forehead. Instead of being a constant nag, she could just point to her face every time Stephanie and/or her sister come up with a really terrible idea.
Just then, poor, helpless Yick Yu wanders into the viper’s nest, wanting to talk to Stephanie about the position of sports rep. Hilariously, Steph just looks him up and down, almost as if a piece of dog turd had sprouted legs and come up to talk to her.
Steph just blows him off, as she tends to do with anything involving official school president business. Yick walks away defeated, but just then, Stephanie gets an idea. So you can thank Yick for planting the suggestion in her mind for what she does next.
Cut to the Swank Gym, where the Zit Remedy is rehearsing. They even have a poster board in front of Joey’s keyboard that says “The Zit Remedy”. And in a massive musical leap forward from last week, they’ve actually written a song. Yes, it’s a real song, with a melody and lyrics and everything.
The song is a bizarre, calypso-style number, and we only hear the last few lines as the scene begins: “Everybody wants something, they’ll never give up / Everybody wants something / They’ll take your money / And never give up!” End song. And making it all the more bizarre is how they still don’t have a drummer. This band will never have a drummer.
Degrassi fans all know this song. That’s because “Everybody Wants Something” will be the one and only song the Zit Remedy performs in all five seasons of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. I’m dead serious. A few lyrics get added on as time goes by, but they never, ever bother to write another song for the Zit Remedy. I have no idea why. Is it because this is the only song simple enough for the actors to play? Were they afraid audiences would be totally confused if they performed a second song?
The Zit Remedy even becomes the butt of jokes during the TNG years. When several of the new Degrassi kids try to form a band, they learn about Snake and Joey’s musical past, and they’re determined to not suck as much as the Zit Remedy. I’m not exaggerating. I’m pretty sure at one point, one of the characters actually says, “We can’t be like the Zit Remedy. We can’t suck.”
And for those of you playing along at home, the progression is G to C to D to C again, over and over until your fingers bleed. It’s one of the most well-worn chord progressions in pop music history. For example, it’s also used in “Sweets for My Sweet” by The Drifters, which is another song with a pseudo-calypso beat. And what was the name of the band that Wheels’ biological dad was in? That’s right: Mike and the Drifters. Begin formulating your conspiracy theories now.
They wrap up the song, and per usual, the guys start talking about how awesome they are as a band, despite all evidence to the contrary. Suddenly, Stephanie is at the door, calling out to Joey. Wow! It’s their second groupie, in as many episodes. Maybe I was wrong to laugh at this band.
It seems Operation: Make Wheels Pay is already in progress, because Steph comes up to Joey and drapes herself across his shoulders, and tugs at his jean jacket collar, and asks how he’s doing. Hilariously, in the middle of this, she turns to Wheels and in a completely ice cold voice says, “Oh. Hi, Wheels.” No, that was not obvious at all.
She tells Joey she’d love to spend more time with him, and offers him the position of sports rep on the student council. Both Snake and Wheels immediately jump in, doing their best to cock block Joey. Snake points out that Joey is not even on a school team and “he hates sports”, but Joey insists he watches sports on TV. Then Wheels chimes in, saying there’s supposed to be an election for that position. Steph brushes all this aside, saying she’s president and she can do what she wants, because Degrassi Junior High is a lot like Iran.
She tells Joey that they’ll be working “very closely together”. Yeah, right. Do you think Stephanie ever even met Jason Cox? But Joey can’t say no, and he happily accepts. Stephanie gives one last glare in Wheels’ direction before she leaves, and out in the hallway, she and the Twins celebrate successfully making Wheels jealous.
Back in the gym, Joey is so ecstatic he does a spontaneous glissando on his keyboard. He hopes that “Wheels, m’man” has “no hard feelings”.
Wheels says, “No problem.” A completely oblivious Joey says, “Don’t I know it! Life’s perfect!” He wants to do the song again. And this time, Joey has a big goofy grin on his face the whole time. Interestingly enough, they only perform the last few bars of the song again, almost like that’s all they bothered to write. And I have to say, even after all these years, I’m still trying to figure out who’s going to take my money and never give up.
The next day, Joey’s in the boy’s bathroom, combing his hair in the mirror and wearing a lovely pink handmade sweatshirt that has ZIT REMEDY written in magic marker. He sees Yick walk in, and the two have this witty banter.
Yick: I don’t like multiple choice.
These two really should take their act out on the road. Yick goes to a urinal and takes a leak, which makes it official: you can’t have a Degrassi episode without at least one guy peeing.
Joey warns Yick to be nice to him, because he’s looking at Degrassi’s new sports rep. Yick is outraged, saying that Joey isn’t even on a team. Joey says he got the job because he’s “a very close personal friend of Stephanie Kaye!” Then he puts his hat on and walks out, revealing that the back of his sweatshirt reads “alias JOEY and the JETSET”. Terrible band names die hard, don’t they?
Yick just stares after him in anger, and marches out on a mission.