Degrassi Junior High “The Big Dance” (part 2 of 4)
Enter Joey Jeremiah. It seems that prior to this episode, he exchanged his fedora for a porkpie hat, which looks to be made out of straw. Due to the erasure of Hank from the Degrassi timeline (mostly likely caused by Superboy punching a wall), Joey’s new best friend is Wheels. Wheels, if you’ll recall, is mostly known for being the first boy to ask Stephanie for a kiss in exchange for voting for her. And let me tell you, he’s got a long, strange trip ahead of him, to be sure. An odd confluence of circumstance will lead to him hitchhiking and being picked up by a gay pedophile in a station wagon, in a clip that so terrified Viacom they ordered it pulled from YouTube.
Joey asks if Wheels is going to the Big Dance, but he’s not sure. But Joey says not only is he going, but he has a date. And by “a date”, he’s referring to someone who he hasn’t even asked yet. “Stephanie, of course! She lusts for my body!” Yep, all 100% of that muscle. It’s really hard to take him seriously when he steals his headwear from Tom Sawyer. Just then, Stephanie wanders past, and flashes a smile over in the direction of the two boys.
But as it turns out, Stephanie is hot for… Wheels. Wheels? Really? I guess you never forget your first john, do you? As they enter a classroom, Steph tells the incredulous Twins that he is “so sexy!” I don’t really want to speculate on the sexiness of 14 year old boys, so I’m just going to agree with Stephanie and keep going.
In the midst of all this, we get a Klassic Kontinuity moment where, right behind Stephanie, Shane and Snake enter the classroom and take their seats. Then we cut back to the hallway, and Shane and Snake have suddenly rematerialized out there, and enter the classroom all over again. Usually, I wouldn’t even care about continuity flubs on a show this cheap, but it’s kind of hard to ignore—mostly because Snake is wearing a bright yellow jacket that, along with his red hair, makes him look like Ronald McDonald. Come on, guys, can you try a little harder than this? Please?
Joey enters the classroom and begins to put the moves on Stephanie. He literally sprawls out across several desks and says, “Joey F. Jeremiah—that’s F for ‘footwork’—at your service!” Personally, I never thought of hitting on girls with the Fred G. Sanford Method of Figurative Middle Names, but I suppose it’s as good an approach as any. Joey continues to hint that he’s a good dancer: “When Jeremiah hits the floor, they always ask for more!” Well, I don’t know if this counts, but if his head hit the floor, I’d be asking for more of that, too. Unfortunately, Stephanie just ignores him, shooting smiles over in the direction of Wheels.
The bell rings and Ms. Avery enters. Oh, sweet Ms. Avery. She tells them Voula has an announcement. Voula stands in front of the class and awkwardly explains how Degrassi is sponsoring a foster child. This leads to very strange whooos and clapping and desk pounding from the class. Yo! We’s sponsoring that child tizzight! I’m getting my sponsoring on, y’all! The best part of this shot right here is that while everybody’s cheering, Steph is just blankly staring in Wheels’ direction. Actually, I think “blankly” is the only way she can stare at anything.
Voula then says, “The only problem is, we need some money to do it!” Okay, now just hold on. I think it’s impossible to “sponsor” anything without money. That’s kind of the definition of “sponsoring”, no? I think Voula missed a memo.
Lucy suggests they turn the Big Dance into the Big Benefit, by charging a dollar to get in. Everyone thinks this is a great idea, other than Steph, who’s still flashing slutty looks over at Wheels. Alas, her whorish bliss is interrupted when Lucy asks, “What does the school president think?” Amazingly, Steph remembers that it is she who is in fact school president, and she immediately replies, “Oh, yeah, sure.”
With that enthusiastic endorsement, Lucy says Voula should be the one to present the check at the dance. Voula yells out, “No, I can’t!” in a tone of voice that suggests maybe she will be burnt with lit cigarettes if she does this. She deflects this duty to Steph, who begrudgingly says she’ll do it.
Ms. Avery declares the situation settled, then begins class. She says, “Helping people less fortunate than ourselves, is a wonder—” and then we cut away. Really? You couldn’t even let her get out one sentence of an actual class? I mean, for crying out loud, even stupid Head of the Class gave us a random Howard Hesseman hippie-fied lecture from time to time. Nothing? Alright then, moving on.
Cut to, apparently, the end of the school day. As they exit down the front steps, Lucy is telling Voula that it was her idea to sponsor the foster child, so she should be one to present the check, “not a broomhead like Stephanie!” Wow, the true feelings come out, huh? Voula claims she’s not going to the Big Dance because she has too much homework.
Lucy says, “Voula, you’ve got the rest of your life to do homework!” Actually, she’s going to have plenty of time to do a lot of things, after she quits the show. Voula finally admits that her dad won’t let her go. Lucy, as I’m sure you could guess, completely scoffs at this. “What century is he living in?” Hmm. Whichever century the Stalinists took power, I think. Note to Lucy: those were the real fascists.
So worldly Lucy instructs Voula: “It’s all how you bring up your parents! You’ve got to educate them! Or they’ll walk all over you!” Oh, Lucy, how I bask in your prepubescent wisdom. And somehow, in the midst of this, she again finds a way to declare that her parents are “loose”.
Voula defends her folks, saying they’re just “old-fashioned”. She says, “They come from a really little village!” Hey, here’s a thought: What if Voula’s parents are actually from Mypos? Then she could totally go to the dance, by telling Poppa it’s really the Dance of Joy!
Lucy slathers on lipstick as she advises Voula to ask her parents again. Voula eyes the makeup and asks if she can try some on. Um… I’m not sure I’d trust using the same lipstick as Lucy. What with her “looseness” and everything. I might get odd sores a week later. Plus, that’s not really my color. Hooker red doesn’t suit me, at all, and I learned that the hard way.
Voula beams as she puts on lipstick. No, Voula! Don’t do it! Don’t let yourself be seduced by the dark side! Soon you’ll be wearing fuck-me pumps and shiny halter tops to school like your ex-girlfriend Steph!
Later that night at the Voula Family Hut, Voula is again in the kitchen, and trying to work up the nerve to ask Poppa if she can go to the dance. And all throughout this episode, Momma Voula is nowhere to be found. I think Poppa keeps her chained to a radiator in the basement, pumping out babies.
As Voula brings a loaf of challah bread to the table, Poppa is outraged: “You wearing lipstick?!?” He hands her a napkin and sternly says, “Off!” You look like Turkish prostitute! As she wipes it off, he declares, “You’re just leetle girl! It takes time to grow up!” Honestly, at this point, he’s only got an accent on like, every fourth word, but he’s still awesome.
Voula, seeing that asking to go to the dance right now would probably be greeted with the same reaction as if she asked to get an abortion, begins to weave a ridiculous, fully transparent lie. She talks about how there’s a “meeting” at school on Saturday, to do with the foster child. She even says, I kid you not, “It’s just like school, only in the evening!” It’s just like school, only with more drugs and booze and sex! How can you say no?
Poppa just goes right along with this. He says she can go, with his only condition that she has to be home by “nine turty, okay?” Was his village by any chance downwind of Chernobyl? How can he not see through this lie? Like, a day ago he saw an ad saying the dance was on Saturday, and now Voula wants to go to a “meeting” at the school on Saturday night. How hard is it to connect these dots? I swear, Degrassi Junior High has some of the most apathetic, negligent parents ever.
Back in everyone’s favorite destination, the Girls Bathroom of Ill Repute, Steph is once again getting her whore on. (Not to be confused with a Whore’ghan.) Now she’s got on a sleeveless shirt with the collar popped up. I must admit, Steph’s slutty outfits are truly a remarkable thing. It’s like suffering through watching Whoopi host the Oscars just to see what crazy thing she’ll be wearing next.
Steph is combing her hair, and practicing in the mirror how she’s going to ask out Wheels. One of the lines she considers is “Say, Wheels, those look like dancing shoes!” Which even she immediately dismisses as too moronic, which says a lot. Maybe she should just start off by telling Wheels that she is in fact 26 years old, which is how old she looks in this shot. And then, in the middle of her talking to her reflection, wait for it… wait for it… yep, a toilet flushes, and another student comes out of a stall, much to Stephanie’s embarassment. And it’s that Rosie O’Donnell look-alike too, which has really got to burn.
Cut to Joey and Wheels entering the school, and Joey is proudly declaring that today is the day he asks Steph to the dance. Oh, is he in for a surprise. I guess he, too, will learn what being rejected by Stephanie feels like. Randomly, Wheels is wearing an NFL jersey, and it’s for… the New Orleans Saints? There must be some mistake here. Do they even care about American football up in Canada? And we’re talking the 1986-87 Saints here, who had just had, no exaggeration, their 20th losing season in a row. It’s just so random, I’m positive there’s no explanation behind it.
(And then I went to the Wikipedia entry for Degrassi Junior High and found this: “In one episode, Wheels can be clearly seen wearing a Footscray Bulldogs jumper. What is unusual is that the sport, Australian rules football and its [league], the VFL, at the time would have been unknown in Canada. Although the VFL staged several exhibition matches that year, the Bulldogs were not involved and were perhaps the least successful and supported teams in the league.” So maybe it’s all a running joke, where Wheels supports the worst possible team for any given sport. Maybe next week he’ll be wearing a Clippers jersey. Or, maybe I’m giving this show too much credit.)
Steph appears and Joey tries to shoo Wheels away. But in a stunning reversal, it’s Wheels that Steph wants to talk to, and poor Joey is sent packing. As he sulks off, he says, “I’ll go polish my nails, or something!” And… what? I’ve heard some bad fuck you I didn’t want you anyway lines in my life, but suggesting you’re giving yourself a manicure? I don’t think Stephanie will be consumed with regret any time soon. While he’s at it, he should have told her he was going to the Metro Club later.
Anyway, in a moment reminiscent of Debbie Lefave coming onto one of her students, Steph asks out Wheels. Of course, he says yes, because Steph is one of the few girls he knows who has boobs. He leaves and Steph ducks into a closet or something to do a fist pumping victory squeal. So either she’s a really bad actress, or Wheels is the finest hunk of 14 year old man meat in Toronto. If nobody minds, I’m going for the “bad actress” explanation until proven otherwise.
Cut to the night of the Big Dance. In her bedroom, Steph is picking out earrings and halfheartedly practicing her speech about the money raised for the foster child. Momma Kaye, wool pulled permanently over eyes, calls out from the next room to tell her to have fun. Steph makes shifty eyes and stuffs her real outfit for the dance in her big shoulder bag.
Meanwhile, at the Voula Family Shanty, Voula tells Poppa she’s off to the “meeting”, and he wonders why she’s got a big bag with her. She pretends she’s got something to return to Lucy, who will also be at this “meeting”, and all Poppa can do is blithely remind her to be home by “nine turty sharp!” Why do I think he’d have the same reaction if Voula left the house with nothing but a lighter, a spoon, some rubber tubing and a syringe?
And then Poppa really ratchets up the tension, by telling her that if she’s not home by nine turty, he’s coming to get her. Wow, what are the odds of that actually happening? Remember, this is Degrassi Junior High, so I think you can safely hazard a guess.