Degrassi Junior High: The Very Special Lessons of Season One
So, I finally did it. I finished recapping all 13 episodes of the first season of Degrassi Junior High. And it only took me a little less than three years to do it.
That might seem like a long time, but in that same period of time, I also did plenty of other stuff (accepting reader submissions, finishing up the Worst of Trek project (which itself took five years), editing and polishing up dozens of articles, upgrading the forum software (twice), ending reader submissions, redesigning and streamlining the site, moving it to a new server, uploading 40 or so videos to YouTube/Yahoo, and did I mention I also have a full-time job?). So the fact that I actually finished out this season at all is a minor miracle.
Recapping the first season of Degrassi Junior High has been fun, but it was also a lot of work. To be honest, I really don’t know if I’m going to move forward with recapping the second season. I’m not sure that spending every waking hour thinking and writing about Degrassi is really all that healthy, and let’s face it, it’s not exactly making me rich or famous.
If the recaps do return, I can say for sure they’ll be a lot shorter. And I may even forgo screencaps entirely for the sake of getting them done faster. But I doubt I’ll be making a final decision until next spring at the earliest.
In the meantime, I present this retrospective of all the Degrassi Junior High recaps I’ve written so far, primarily to make people aware of any that they may have missed. Also, I’d like to just bask in the accomplishment, at least for a little while.
I haven’t done an official word count, but a lowball estimate of 8,000 words per recap (plus an introductory article) means this whole season totals well over 100,000 words. Basically, I’ve written a lengthy novel about Degrassi Junior High for free. So all the people who think I complain too much about how much work is involved in updating this site can suck it.
And now, join me as I revisit the Very Special Lessons I learned from this Very Special Season of Degrassi Junior High.
Episode 1: “Kiss Me, Steph” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Stephanie Kobalewscuy emerged from her post-Grade 7 summertime cocoon as Stephanie Kaye, a big old slut. Flashing her muff got her elected school president, but cost her the semi-creepy friendship of the dorkiest girl in school, Voula. It also gained her the fully creepy friendship of Joey Jeremiah, the school’s resident egotist. The Degrassi student body ended up with their worst president in school history, and deservedly so. In the end, nobody learned a damn thing.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “Kiss Me, Steph”:
- Broom closets in a junior high school with doors that lock automatically and trap people inside aren’t much of a safety concern.
- Unless your last name is Clinton, playing the blues will not get you elected president.
- Girls like being thanked in campaign speeches as much as boys.
- Don’t piss off friends of the same gender who might have a gay crush on you, because you may need to use them later.
Episode 2: “The Big Dance” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, the fall dance ignited the flames of passion in the loins of many a Degrassi student, most notably Stephanie (who asked out Wheels, then came within a hair’s-breadth of drunkenly puking all over him) and Voula (who decided to brazenly disobey her Poppa Borat and show off her shins in public). Mr. Raditch rocked and romped deep into the night, playing the hits we wanted to hear. Voula and Arthur (AKA Astrodog) danced uncomfortably, while Steph got comfortably numb on Irish crème, and ultimately got herself too wasted to help starving orphans.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “The Big Dance”:
- If you want to go to a dance and your immigrant father won’t let you, just lie and say that school now takes place at night. He won’t know any better.
- Aqua Velva smells like mosquito repellant.
- People who can afford a Manhattan loft are extremely likely to sell it and settle down in the grimy suburbs of Toronto.
- Port is wine that you drink on a boat.
- Mosh pits were originally known as “The Annual Degrassi Junior High Crazy Dance”.
Episode 3: “The Experiment” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Yick Yu endlessly confused us when he decided his Asian heritage was getting him stereotyped as a dumb jock. To bolster his grades, he turned in papers originally written by Stephanie Kaye, and when you’re copying the homework of a 14 year old hooker, that’s a sad statement on your academic future. Let me just save you the application fees right now and say you shouldn’t even be thinking about Harvard.
Meanwhile, Joey P. Jeremiah—the P is for “placebo”—passed off vitamin pills as exotic street drugs, and Melanie and Kathleen somehow convinced themselves that they were getting stoned on Centrum Silver. It was a tough call, but ultimately, the Wrath of Raditch came down upon… Yick Yu, for copying Stephanie’s papers. Degrassi may have a bustling drug trade going on in the hallways, but cheating will not be tolerated.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “The Experiment”:
- In the ‘80s, all the techie genius Asian whiz kids emigrated to the United States, while all the underachieving Asian jocks with dyslexia ended up in Canada.
- “Real parties” contain all of the following: music, boys, potato chips, dancing, and drugs.
- You’re allowed to plagiarize no more than one (1) school paper for the sake of proving educator bias.
- It’s all about the Abrahams.
- Literature is not an exact science.
Episode 4: “The Cover-Up” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Rick was getting smacked around by his dad, a psycho guy with a big poofy afro who could snap at a moment’s notice. He gave Rick big bruises, which caused issues at Photo Day. We knew it was Photo Day, because we were reminded every thirty seconds that it was Photo Day.
Joey Jeremiah wanted to wear a jean jacket for the occasion, and thus introduce us to the Classic Case of the Four Js. He even went to insane lengths to do so: Namely, by going to the home of a psycho guy with a big poofy afro who could snap at a moment’s notice.
Voula continued her bitchy, girl-crush streak against Stephanie, Melanie obsessed over a zit, and in the end, Corey Hart’s doppelganger swooped in on his motorbike and rescued Rick, taking him to go live with his cool older brother. Everyone lived happily ever after, at least until the following week, when this show was sure to visit some new catastrophe upon the whole lot of them.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “The Cover-Up”:
- You can “get out of town” on the money you make from recycling glass bottles.
- Just because you buy a jean jacket from a guy, that doesn’t mean you’re buddies, okay?
- When your best friend asks for advice, the correct response is, “It’s your problem.”
- It’s always a good idea to tell a guy from Children’s Aid that there are times when you feel like hitting your kids.
- Contrary to popular belief, social workers do not get a bonus for every kid they bag.
Episode 5: “The Great Race” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Melanie was, is, and will always be flat as a board. She got sick of looking like a little girl, so she went out and got a ridiculously stuffed/padded WonderBra. She even followed the lead of Degrassi school skank Stephanie Kaye, and got changed at school so her mom wouldn’t find out. But then she quickly learned that once you commit to artificially “enhancing” your looks, you’re kind of stuck with it. And wearing a stuffed bra 24 hours a day is not terribly practical, especially when you’re on the swim team.
In other news, Arthur and Yick bored everybody into deep, restful sleep in their quest to get taller.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “The Great Race”:
- Whoring is not a sport.
- School secretaries occasionally go on dates at 7:30 in the morning.
- Much like Wheelchair Girls, there’s only room for one token Asian kid at Degrassi Junior High.
- Few can resist the decadent allure of being on the Degrassi boys soccer team.
- Sometimes, it takes five hours to eat a single candy bar.
- If you’re flat chested enough, you can make the walls jealous.
Episode 6: “Rumo(u)r Has It” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Caitlin Ryan was having crazy lesbo sex dreams about Ms. Avery. But we’ve all been there, am I right? Rumors were flying around the school like crazy: Ms. Avery’s gay, Caitlin’s gay, Rick is a thief, Arthur and Yick are sick voyeurs… Okay, maybe that last rumor is one that I, personally, am trying to start.
But when all was said and done, we learned that having dreams about your teacher of the same sex doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay, but wearing a lavender suit and awesome shades does mean you’re a pimp.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “Rumor Has It”:
- The best way to deter a would-be thief is to close your garage door.
- Lesbians aren’t interested in men.
- King Street is the place to go when you really want to gay it up.
- In gym class, if you get changed behind a towel, that means you’re gay.
- Never hang around with a lesbian in a darkroom, because she might try to do something.
- Mr. Raditch is a pimp.
Episode 7: “Best Laid Plans” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Stephanie and Wheels tried again to have something resembling an actual date. Luckily, they were both in agreement that “actual dates” all end with sex. But things went south when it turned out the nice pharmacist lady who sold Wheels condoms is actually Stephanie’s mom. Whoops.
Meanwhile, Arthur and Yick made plans to watch a porno called Swamp Sex Robots. Fortunately, Arthur’s mom has a VCR. Unfortunately, Arthur’s mom is also Stephanie’s mom, and the living room ended up being occupied by a single mother wondering how she could have gone so horribly wrong as a parent.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “Best Laid Plans”:
- Stephanie Kaye’s middle initial is “H” for “hot”.
- Degrassi kids really want to know what it was like when their parents first had sex.
- If you screw up your first date with a boy, sex is the only way to make it up to him.
- Whether they’re 14 or 40, men have no clue what women like, especially when it comes to flowers.
- Never, ever buy condoms. You’ll spare yourself a lot of hassle and embarrassment.
Episode 8: “Nothing to Fear” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Lorraine Delacorte, AKA L.D., AKA Degrassi’s one and only tomboy character, was terrified to visit her dad in the hospital, apparently believing that as soon as you visit a person in the hospital, that person immediately dies. Y’know, that old superstition again.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the whole “fear” theme of the episode, the Scarecrow showed up and gassed everybody. Well, okay, not exactly. What actually happened was Melanie had to face her fear of snakes when Degrassi’s pet California king snake went missing.
L.D.’s dad lived, the snake was found, and in the end, we learned there was nothing to fear besides imaginary radio plays.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “Nothing to Fear”:
- You can kill your parents with the power of your thoughts.
- The best way to determine if a snake is venomous is by watching teen dramas.
- Snakes like luncheon meat.
Episode 9: “What a Night!” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Stephanie got herself a date with her favorite soap star, god only knows how. Well, okay, she did it by a) dressing like a slut and b) lying about her age. And it wasn’t a “date” so much as an attempted sexual assault in a parking lot. Poor Stephanie didn’t quite make the connection that when male celebs invite young female fans out on “dates”, it generally isn’t to show them the inner workings of a TV studio.
Over in the B plot (actually, sort of a rare “A minus plot”), Voula hung out with Loosey, completely unaware of her tendency to shoplift, which was brought on by neglectful, workaholic parents. Thanks to Loosey’s kleptomania, both girls got busted by the cops, and when Voula’s parents found out, that was the last anyone saw of Voula. Fare thee well, Voula, fare thee well.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “What a Night!”:
- The world’s most famous ballet dancers all flunked eighth grade.
- Wearing tiger stripe scarves paired with leopard print spandex pants makes you sophisticated.
- When a celebrity comes to your place of business, it’s time to break out the Elmer’s Glue and glitter.
- Do not fuck with department store employees.
- What looks good on TV can be pretty gross in real life.
- Working mothers, as well as divorced mothers, are the worst parents in the world.
Episode 10: “Smokescreen” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Rick Munro, the school’s resident bad boy, thought he had finally found an “in” with Caitlin Ryan by joining her boring Environmental Action Committee. Unfortunately, the Action Committee wasn’t quite what they advertise on the poster, but Rick got all the action he wanted when Caitlin gave him a peck on the cheek.
Meanwhile, in the boring Arthur and Yick B-plot, Yick decided to fake like he came from Asian royalty or something and his family had a centuries-old vase that he kept in his book bag. To no one’s surprise, Arthur was completely fooled by this charade. In fact, Arthur was so fooled that when he accidentally destroyed the vase, he did a shitload of meth so that he could stay awake long enough to glue it back together.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “Smokescreen”:
- Historically, not a lot of sharecropping went on in Nova Scotia.
- NASA has never hired any extremely disorganized astronauts.
- Toxins are poisons.
- Petition-related peer pressure is a motherfucker.
- You’re never too young to wear Mom Jeans.
Episode 11: “It’s Late” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Degrassi Junior High made a name for itself with an Emmy™-winning episode where 14 year old Spike Nelson finds out she’s pregnant. Despite leaden acting and dialogue consisting mostly of statistics, it became one of the series’ most memorable moments, and it would even set up a spinoff series 15 years later that would eclipse the original show in terms of popularity.
Meanwhile, Yick asked out Melanie. Everybody forgot it happened about ten seconds after the episode ended.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “It’s Late”:
- Having a hickey means you have a boyfriend and you can go out on dates.
- You can’t get pregnant unless you’ve had sex.
- There’s nothing kids love more than Victorian Romantic poets.
- Many of Billy Idol’s fans are pregnant 14 year olds.
- You can’t kill a baby!
Episode 12: “Parents’ Night” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, that creepy dude with the yellow gloves hanging around the front of the school wasn’t a pedophile and/or serial killer—it was Wheels’ birth father, quietly stalking his biological son until the moment was right to reveal himself. Wheels and his birth dad bonded over their love of milkshakes and rock and roll, but Wheels ultimately had to dump the guy because it was totally his fault that Wheels lied to his adoptive parents.
Meanwhile, Spike considered the idea of putting her yet-to-be-born baby up for adoption, which led to lots of bickering in the hallways with her baby daddy Shane. To the shock of no one, they decided to end their passionate month-long love affair where they barely spoke to each other.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “Parents’ Night”:
- Every teenage boy wants a copy of the soundtrack to South Pacific for his birthday.
- Before forging your mom’s signature on your report card, you really should find out what her first name is.
- The best way to get a man is to go south.
- Only the best shows on TV build episodes around props.
- It’s not unusual for a father to carry around his son’s birth bracelet in his pocket. For 14 years straight.
Episode 13: “Revolution!” – Read the recap
Synopsis: In this very special episode, Degrassi school president Stephanie Kaye made yet another attempt to rekindle her disastrous romance with Wheels, but was soundly rejected. Stephanie’s revenge was swift and brutal, as she promoted Joey to the student council just to make Wheels jealous.
This incensed Stephanie’s political enemies (i.e., Degrassi’s entire Grade 7) who staged a riot in an attempt to get her thrown out of office. But this velvet revolution was halted in its tracks when Joey found out he was nothing but a pawn, and he happily stepped aside just to humiliate Stephanie. In the end, the mob was placated, Stephanie resolved to be herself for a change, and at least one adult cast member realized he had no future in comedy.
The Very Special Lessons I Learned from “Revolution!”:
- The Zambezi River is in Africa.
- When the girl who got pregnant at 14 laughs at you, you know you’re nothing but a walking joke.
- Do not revolt against school authority figures until after you take your midterms.
- The student council can’t be run on lips alone.
- Everybody wants something.
- They’ll take your money, and never give up.