Degrassi Junior High “What a Night!” (part 2 of 5)
Out in the hallway, Stephanie and the Twins are talking about random disconnected things that only make sense two scenes from now. So just to keep things simple, I call tell you that what they want to do is watch a soap opera in study hall. The Twins worry about getting caught, but Steph assures them that “Baxter’s always late,” and that someone will be keeping watch at the door anyway.
Steph says this is the only way they’ll get to see the star of the soap, an actor named “Damon King”, who is “so gorgeous!” Considering the number of times she called Wheels “so sexy”, I’m not sure I trust Stephanie’s judgment of men anymore. But in the minds of Steph and the Twins, Damon King is a complete stud, so file that info away for later.
Back in Raditch’s classroom, Raditch tells Loosey that she’s been doing poorly in all her classes lately. He asks why, and she just shrugs. Raditch says if there are any problems at home, she can tell him, because that’s what he’s “here for”. Again, Degrassi really needs to spring for a school counselor one of these days. Okay, they eventually do hire the fetching Ms. Sauvé, but that’s not for another 14 years.
Loosey, obviously lying, says everything is fine at home, and that she’s just in some sort of “phase”. You know, the “failing every single class” phase. Followed by the “stealing cool scarves” phase. Everyone goes through that, right? Raditch advises her to “start a new phase” or risk flunking out this year, and sends her on her way.
So here’s what we know so far: Loosey is on the verge of failing out of school. Also, she’s taken up shoplifting. So, the only thing needed is clunky exposition revealing that Loosey has absent parents for us to know for sure this is all an obvious cry for attention. Oh, wait, we do know she has absent parents. Who could forget how she calls her mom “Alice”?
Over in study hall, all the kids are currently sitting around unsupervised. The TV is on and everyone is watching the fictional soap Days of Passion. In the show, a door opens, and in walks a man and a woman with insane ‘80s hair: the guy has a bad mullet, and the woman has crazy teased up hair. The guy tells the girl, “We have a lot in common, you and I. We really do.”
Guess what? The guy with the mullet and the iffy grammar is the aforementioned Damon King. Evidently, this guy is the R. Patt of late ‘80s Toronto, because Steph and the Twins are mooning over him, and one of the Twins says he’s “such a hunk”, while Steph says he’s “so good looking”. I don’t quite see it, but I’m willing to take their words for it.
Meanwhile, behind them, Wheels and Joey are sitting on a couch and providing their own running commentary. In fact, they seem to be engaged in an early form of riffing. But they take things a step too far, when they actually hold each other’s hands, and call each other “Sean” and “Amanda”, and repeat the dialogue being spoken on screen. If that’s not dodgy enough for you, Joey actually pretends to kiss Wheels’ hand, but is really kissing his own hand. That’s a little weird, guys.
Stephanie shushes Joey, and then she turns back to the soap, where the two actors deliver the most hackneyed lines found outside of Fabio novels. They hold each other tight, and start kissing. The girls are enthralled and beside themselves, and simply melting in their drawers. Joey and Wheels make fun of the girls by stomping their feet and making cutesy gestures, so Steph yells at them again.
As the soap continues, Loosey enters. Voula asks what Raditch wanted, so Loosey repeats what he said, doing her best eye-rolling Raditch impression. She says she’s not worried about flunking 8th grade: “I don’t need spelling! I’m gonna be a dancer!” Yes, because as we all know, the world’s most famous dancers all dropped out of junior high. True story: Baryshnikov is illiterate.
Voula mentions that she’s “good at spelling, and stuff” and can help Loosey study for tomorrow’s exam. Personally, I’d like to know more about what the “and stuff” entails. Is that code for “hating on Steph”? Because she’s really, really good at that. Speaking of whom, Steph and the Twins are still letting out loud howls of lust and glee at the supposed “hunk” they’re watching on TV.
Stephanie says she intends to meet Damon King. But this is no mere pipe dream, oh no. She pulls out a newspaper article that says that, by sheer coincidence, he’s going to be in town ”autographing his book or something, tomorrow at the bookstore!” Um… “or something”? What else would he be autographing at a bookstore? The Twins are stunned at first, but eventually they agree to go along with her to the book signing.
Just then, the girl keeping watch at the door (Alexa, for all you DJH fanatics keeping track at home), yells that “Baxter’s coming!” They shut off the TV, and everyone conspicuously buries their faces in their textbooks. Enter “Baxter”, a young-ish woman with short brown hair, and also, the officially confirmed third member of the Degrassi faculty. There were rumors in previous episodes of other teachers besides Mr. Raditch and Ms. Avery, but I never really believed it until now.
Baxter says, “I didn’t hear the TV on, did I?” Everyone’s all “[three second pause] No!” Without another word, Baxter sits down at her desk. Clearly, she’s utterly clueless, so she’ll fit right in at this school. Meanwhile, Loosey asks if Voula was serious about helping her study for the spelling exam.
And bam! Just like that, we’re at Loosey’s house, and Voula is teaching her to spell the word “corroborate”. Which, full disclosure, I totally screwed up the first time I typed it. I’m eternally grateful for MS Word spell check. Suddenly, Loosey is bored with studying, and not caring so much if she flunks. The phone rings, and it’s Alice, who for unknown reasons Loosey is now calling “Mom”.
Mom says she’s “tied up downtown” in some vague meeting. Loosey looks despondent, and mentions that Dad is also “working late”. Yep, absent parents, got it. This always leads to shoplifting, or so I’ve heard.
Loosey hangs up and is still tired of studying. So she tells Voula she wants to do something “fun”. No, she doesn’t mean stealing more things. Actually, she wants to “make [her] over!” Voula has no time to even argue before Loosey drags her downstairs to her bedroom, and starts to introduce Voula to her loose ways, all the while tossing clothes at her.
Now things get raw and handheld. In shakycam footage, Steph is coming out of a burger joint with the Twins. One of the Twins (Erica, in case you care) starts pretending to be Damon King, and pantomiming that as soon as he sees Steph, he’s going to fall madly in love with her. Erica-as-Damon doesn’t care that she’s “only 14”, and so on and so forth. There’s more goofing around, but I’m pretty sure this scene only exists to remind us that Stephanie is 14. Although, there is a pipe organ on the soundtrack like this is a lost scene from As the World Turns circa 1955, so that’s funny.
Back to Loosey’s house, where Voula is all done being “made over”. She comes out of Loosey’s closet, and holy shit. She’s wearing an unholy combination of tiger stripes and leopard print pants, and the leopard print pants are spandex, and the outfit is completely horrifying in every way. But the most shocking thing about this outfit is that Voula actually put it on. Do you know the cover of KISS’ Animalize? It’s like that, only uglier. And Voula’s still wearing her granny glasses, which only completes the effect.
She laughs nervously that “it’s not the usual me”, but I think I’d take Voula’s usual colonial Americana wardrobe over this any day. Voula wishes she actually owned clothes like these, and I have no idea why. Loosey says she can borrow them anytime. Voula refuses, saying her parents would never let her be this “sophisticated”. Is that what we’re calling this? Voula reminds us all of how “old-fashioned” her Myposian immigrant parents are.
So Loosey replies with dialogue so full of blatant lies, delusions, and barely-veiled bitterness that I don’t even know where to start.
Yeah. Even Voula picks up on the bitterness, and wonders if Loosey ever gets “lonely”. Loosey insists she’s “self-sufficient”. As well as self-deluded.
Voula says she’s gotta go, and all of sudden Loosey becomes the neediest person in the world, wanting Voula to try on more clothes, and stay for dinner, and her mom is a “gourmet cook”, and she took “classes and stuff”. Unfortunately, the promise of recipes learned in “classes and stuff” is not enough to make Voula forget about her dad, or how much she fears him, or how he always makes the family have dinner together.
Loosey tries one last desperate sarcastic cry of “Boooring,” which Voula just smiles at. Yeah. Did she really think calling Voula “boring” would have any effect? Lest we all forget, when Voula decided to dress “risqué” for the Big Dance, she actually wore a dress longer than what she normally wears to school.
Out on the front doorstep, Voula says goodnight. Before she leaves, Loosey takes off her scarf and puts it around Voula’s neck, saying she can keep it. Because despite her grades, Loosey is quite smart, after all. She knows how to dispose of stolen goods as quickly as possible. “Keep it for as long as you like,” Loosey says, “I’ve got lots!” Insofar as the department store has lots, which they’re technically just holding onto until Loosey gets around to swiping them.