Degrassi Junior High “Rumor Has It” (part 5 of 5)
Cut to Arthur and Yick resuming their pointless pursuit of Rick. They see him walk up a flight of stairs, and they start to follow him. But by the time they get to the stairs, Rick has already spun around on his heels to confront them. He grabs them both by their collars and demands to know why they’ve been following him.
Arthur and Yick, both a few seconds away from pissing their pants, say this is about the money stolen out of Yick’s locker. Yick says they know Rick stole it, because Rick bought “a new T-shirt! And a ton of licorice!” Not sure where the T-shirt thing suddenly came from, but okay.
Arthur adds, “And there’s all those rumors!” thankfully driving home the point of the episode. Rick wants to know what “rumors” they’re talking about, but the conversation is interrupted by a familiar clearing of the throat. Sure enough, it’s Rompin’ Rockin’ Raditch, back in his lavender Miami Vice blazer. Rick immediately backs off, not wanting to bear the brunt of some righteous Raditch rage.
Hilariously, without saying another word, Raditch descends the steps, straightens the collar of Rick’s jean jacket, and continues on. I know all this and more… Once he’s gone, Rick tells Arthur and Yick to stop following him around, and then the two of them run off to change their underwear.
And now Caitlin and Ms. Avery are in a hallway, with Avery asking if there are any more “rumors” she should be aware of. Caitlin admits to rumors going around that she, Caitlin, is gay. Avery asks Caitlin if she has any reason to believe she’s gay, so Caitlin actually brings up her weird dreams. Seriously, who has conversations like this with their teachers? Maybe it’s time Degrassi budgeted for a school counselor.
But Ms. Avery is here to make sense of it all. “Lots of girls your age have sort of, sexual dreams! Boys, too!” Uh, what does she mean “your age”? Are the “sort of, sexual dreams” supposed to stop at some point? If so, I’m way behind.
And so comes the usual spiel about it being “perfectly normal”, “your bodies are changing”, dreams are the mind’s way of “sorting things out”, and so forth. Man, where did Ms. Avery get her degree in psych?
Back at Yick’s locker, Yick is floating the theory that perhaps Rick didn’t really steal the money, after all. Arthur refuses to hear it. “But he’s our only suspect! And we’re out of fingerprint powder! Who else could it be?” Sadly, Arthur will grow up to be the lead investigator in the Jon-Benet Ramsey case.
Yick opens his locker to another cascade of papers, which the gathered Degrassi girls all laugh at. But this time, for no particular reason other than the episode needs to end right about now, Yick just so happens to find his missing twenty dollars. It was just, you know, there. Under all the papers. Not stolen at all.
“You broomhead!” Arthur yells. “You almost got me killed!” They bicker back and forth, and their argument sends them wandering outside, and as they head out, I can’t help but notice that… Yick left his locker wide open. Maybe Rick should give some serious thought to stealing from him, after all.
Meanwhile, Caitlin and Ms. Avery are on the front steps of the school. A horn honks, and it’s Mr. Raditch, sitting in his car with his pimp shades on. He waves and calls out to “Karen”.
A disbelieving Caitlin says, “Mr. Raditch?” Did you not hear me when I said the man is a pimp? Avery just laughs and says, “Caitlin, please! No more rumors!” In other words, Raditch and Avery really want to keep this on the down low.
Caitlin says Avery is a “really good teacher” and adds, “I’m sorry I thought you were gay.” That’s really a lovely sentiment. Does Hallmark make cards for that?
Avery says there’s nothing to be sorry for. Then she adds, “Would it make any difference if I were? Would you think less of me, Caitlin?” Caitlin shakes her head no, and then there’s the usual freeze frame to end the episode. And I have to wonder if, two seconds after the freeze frame, Caitlin actually said, “Wait, you mean if you were a lezzie? Gross! Get away from me!” Or words to that effect.
And that about does it for the Very Special Lesbian Episode of Degrassi Junior High. As you’d expect, the lesbian rumors never come up again, even though Kathleen wasn’t around when Ms. Avery debunked them. This is also the last appearance of Annie, who completely vanishes after this episode. The actress who played her is named Ximena Bensusan, and with a name that common, I’ll never find out what happened to her! (Okay, okay, she’s on Facebook.)
But there’s a little bit more to this episode than you might think. A few years later, in the documentary series Degrassi Talks, we would learn of this episode’s special significance to a member of Stacie Mistysyn’s family. But before I get to that, check out the Degrassi Talks theme song, sung by none other than Stacie, along with—of all people—the guy who played Tim the Terrific:
Degrassi talks, Degrassi listens, Degrassi will cook and clean for you, Degrassi will even let you see other chicks. Because Degrassi is cool like that.
In case you’re not among the 20 people who have actually seen this show, each episode of Degrassi Talks focuses on a different facet of growing up, and each episode is hosted by a different member of the Degrassi gang. The episode hosted by Stacie is titled “Sexuality”, and it’s nowhere near as exciting as it sounds.
Mostly, the gang talks to a variety of teens about what it was like to hit puberty, and have a sexual awakening, and wet dreams, and buying bras, and getting your first period, etc. Though, with the shorts Stacie is wearing here, I imagine a few kids had a sexual awakening while watching this show.
Degrassi Talks also liberally uses clips from Degrassi Junior High to illustrate its points. This episode features the expected clip from “The Great Race”, with Melanie ”checking” to see if her boobs have grown.
Then comes a whole segment on homosexuality. In some of the “man on the street” interviews, the teens of Canada come off as slightly less than tolerant. This includes a guy who says, “If you want to be a homo, you should go somewhere else!” Well, thankfully we’ve gotten past all that in the 17 years since this aired, am I right? But seriously, if you can’t go to Canada to be a homo, where can you go?
And then they show scenes from the current episode, “Rumor Has It”, which leads into Stacie telling us that when she made the episode, she had no idea her older sister was going through the exact same thing in real life.
Cut to Stacie with her sister Kim, having tea in Kim’s kitchen. There’s a resemblance there, but Kim is nowhere near as cute as Stacie. But to be fair, few women are. Also, Kim’s buzz cut makes her look a little bit like a Ferengi. Yeah, I’m mean.
Kim reveals that when she watched “Rumor Has It”, she was having the same type of feelings about one of her female high school teachers. Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one who was experiencing events from Degrassi episodes in real life at the time. Uh, but not from this particular episode. Just wanted to make that clear. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.
Kim says she really didn’t want to be gay, because it was high school, and the other kids would use expressions like “that’s so gay” in a demeaning way, and wow, I’m so glad we’ve gotten past that, too.
She says that when she was in Grade 13, she even slept with a guy to prove to herself that she wasn’t gay. (And part of me really has to feel for that guy, yo.) But a couple of years later, she finally admitted the truth to herself and came out to her parents. And I’d like to point out that Robert Mistysyn, Stacie’s dad, was also involved with Degrassi. He’s credited as “animation designer”, which I guess means he designed the opening titles. So, let’s face it: Kim got off easy. Coming out to a parent who worked on Degrassi Junior High must have been a breeze. He probably already had a discussion guide and various other supplemental materials furnished by the CBC.
There’s more to their conversation, but that’s the only part that’s really related to the “Rumor Has It” episode. And we get to see Kim together with her partner, and the producers try way too hard to make them look like a normal couple, including clips of them reading a book together in the park. All that’s missing is a shot of them sharing an ice cream cone while riding a ferris wheel.
Coming up next: One of the most intentionally hilarious episodes in the entire Degrassi franchise. I have but three words for you: Swamp. Sex. Robots. The next episode features all three of these things and much, much more.