Trying something new by putting 2 episodes in one review here. Wish me luck!
“The Big Dance”,January 25 1987
Voula’s dad is impressed with her writing the school newsletter, but doesn’t want her to go to the dance, because she’s too young, and he’s a Greek immigrant and Greeks don’t like to let anybody have fun ever [disclaimer: I am Greek, and that was a joke]
I mean that’s actually kind of reasonable – he’s probably seen enough 80s teen movies to know how badly school dances go sometimes, but this is a junior high dance. Those are always super safe. Well, not the ones at Degrassi, but in other junior high schools the dances are safe.
At school, Stephanie says hello to Voula, and Voula gets all sarcastic about how the school president is actually talking to her.
We also find out that Steph gets dressed at school because if her mom knew she dressed the way she does, she’d get grounded for sure. She’s actually dressed pretty reasonably today.
Also, we meet Lucy, who reveals that her parents are really chill about everything. Lucy is sporting one of those hideously gigantic sweaters that were popular in the 80s.
It turns out Degrassi Junior High is sponsoring a foster child (yeah), but they need money for it. Lucy suggests they use the proceeds from the dance to fund the child, and everyone agrees. That one class in the school gets to make all of the school’s financial decisions. Lucy also suggests that Voula present the check officially at the dance. Voula panics and says Stephanie should do it, since she’s the school president.
Lucy says later she thinks that’s dumb, and Voula confesses she’s not allowed at the dance. Voula also asks to try some of Lucy’s lipstick. Uh-oh Voula, if your dad finds out about that he’ll sell you to a nunnery or something.
Actually he just makes her wipe it off with a paper napkin. He says something again about not wanting her to grow up too soon. Voula asks about doing a… thing for the foster child, on Saturday evening. She doesn’t say it’s a dance, but says it’s like a meeting. Voula’s dad is fine with that, as long as she’s home by 9:30.
Meanwhile, asks Wheels to the dance. Wheels agrees to go, and Joey gets mad because I guess he wants to go with Steph? That’s what you get for waiting, you broom-head.
Voula leaves for the dance. Her dad asks what’s in the bag, which is rude because you don’t ask women what they have in their bags and why is he asking what’s in the bag she’s bringing to a school meeting anyway? I’d assume it was school stuff. He reminds her to be back by 9:30 or he’s coming to get her (that sounds more ominous than I meant it to).
Voula actually has clothes to change into in her bag. She goes to Lucy’s house to change into… this.
Honestly I preferred the first dress. Anyway, twins Heather and Erika, and Stephanie, also arrive at Lucy’s house, to prepare for the dance. Voula doesn’t want to hang around with Steph so she heads to the dance.
There’s a scene of the kids dancing. Just imagine that scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas and you’ll get an idea of how they’re dancing.
One of the twins is impressed with how much alcohol is in Lucy’s house, and Lucy says they can go ahead and drink if they want to. This can only lead to good things.
Twin 1 reveals they got drunk at a party at their cousin’s house once, and ask Steph if she’s ever gotten drunk. Steph lies and says of course she has. Lucy just hangs out on the couch and watches them. Lucy is going to be like Seth Rogen’s character in that one episode of Freaks and Geeks, and stay the only sober person at a party so she can win money off everyone and make fun of them.
Joey waltzes in and starts looking through the records. Mr. Raditch slaps his hand away. It’s not an important scene, but it’s funny.
Lucy’s mom calls to check up on her, and Steph chugs a whole cup of what I think is kahlua.
Lucy worries she’s drinking too much, but Steph tells her not to worry. Steph has never had alcohol before, so obviously she is an expert who should be listened to.
The girls finally make it to the dance, with Stephanie literally falling-down drunk. Wheels turned off by Stephanie’s behavior. This will become quite ironic later on, Wheels being turned off by alcohol.
Then Raditch announces the start of the annual Degrassi “Crazy Dance” – whoever dances the craziest wins something. Stephanie joins in, until all the jumping and bumping causes her to throw up (she does make it to the bathroom, though). Wheels is not impressed. Stephanie also acknowledges she has made a mistake. Great, I guess.
She also realizes she’s too smashed to present the check. Lucy finds Voula to ask her to do it, but Voula’s curfew is coming up. Voula stays anyway, but uh-oh, her dad has already come to pick her up!
Why doesn’t Lucy just do it? Voula has to leave, Steph is sick, and Lucy is the one who came up with having the dance sponsor the kid in the first place.
Voula gives her speech confidently, and I guess all ad-libbed since she wasn’t planning on staying to present the check, but she gets distracted when she spots her father in the crowd.
As he drags her away, she protests that she’s a big girl who has rights. Voula’s dad says if she’s a big girl, she should act like one. Fair point. Voula replies that she could if he would stop treating her like a baby. Fair point, again. Voula’s dad points out her mother didn’t go to a dance until she was 16, with Voula rebutting that she lived in a different country, in a different time.
Voula’s dad I think wins the match though by saying what matters above all is that Voula lied to him, and that’s not okay. That’s the end of that storyline for this episode. I wonder if he actually would’ve said yes if she’d said the dance was for a good cause and they wanted her to present the check to the guy representing the foster child at the dance, since she came up with the whole foster child thing in the first place. Or would he have been like “No, get someone else to do it.”
Also Steph vows never to drink again.
Finally, this is the start of the seemingly abnormally high number of Greeks in the Degrassi franchise. I mean there’s not a lot, but there at least 3 on DJH/DH, and at least 2 on Degrassi:TNG. What’s really weird is, there are like no French or English-descended students of Degrassi. D:TNG has a lot of Scottish characters, but it’s just really odd that there are no French or English-descended people in Canada but there’s all these children of Greek immigrants.
“The Experiment”, February 1 1987
This episode is not as exciting or kinky as the title makes it sound.
Arthur has one of those ridiculous 80s watches that also gets TV or radio signals or something. Probably also has a calculator, because rich people 80s watches always have calculators.
Arthur and Yick talk about trying out for the basketball team as Raditch is saying something about papers being due. He hears Yick and chews him out for talking, calls him “Yu the Disorganized”, pointing out his desk.
Wow what. That is like SUPER disorganized, holy cow. My desk isn’t even that bad and I literally never put anything away.
We meet Kathleen (blonde) and Melanie (not blonde) for the first time. They’re in grade 7. Melanie is sad about how there are like no parties to go to in grade 7. She really wants to go to an 80s Teen Movie Party and try drugs. Kathleen asks if she’d seriously try drugs, and Melanie confirms she would. She then echoes the previous episodes alcohol conversation by asking if Kathleen would, to which Kathleen lies that she totally would.
Arthur and Yick make the team. Hooray! I guess. There’s a montage of them playing on the court at the park.
Arthur is terrible, but Yick it turns out is good. They leave after a while, and Yick complains about Raditch always picking on him and stereotyping him. He says he could turn in a paper that Einstein originally wrote and Raditch would still fail him. He probably would, but because Einstein almost exclusively wrote in German.
Arthur likes the idea, though, and offers to get Yick some papers written by Stephanie that Raditch graded the year before. Yick doesn’t know Arthur and Steph are siblings, so he doesn’t know how Arthur will get the papers, but Arthur says that’s not important.
Half the school is in some diner where everyone is drinking sodas or milkshakes, and Joey overhears Kathleen and Melanie talking about taking drugs. He offers to get them some drugs that he just made up.
Yick copies Steph’s papers. He’s smart enough to rewrite the whole thing in his handwriting, which is good. This would’ve been a much different episode if he’d just like crossed out Stephanie’s name and just handed in the exact same paper without even copying it.
Joey is selling some “New Zealand Zappers”, for $5. Wheels disapproves, but it turns out the Zappers are just vitamin pills. The girls don’t know that, though, and start acting totally high and loopy. Vitamins will do that to you.
Yick turns in “his” paper. Raditch is impressed, because he actually turned it in early. Boy was THAT a mistake.
A few days later, Yick gets the paper back. He got an A- on it, even though when Stephanie turned in the exact same paper she only got a B+. Arthur doesn’t see the problem – Yick got a good grade so it proves Raditch doesn’t hate him, but Yick says it sure means something that he got a higher grade on a paper than the person who originally wrote it. Suddenly I’m reminded of that episode of The Partridge Family where Laurie becomes an Assistant Teacher and keeps picking on her younger brother Danny, being overly critical of all of his work, and then he turns in a poem that was originally written by Hemingway or someone to prove a point, and she actually grades him badly for it, so everyone’s all “See, you’re just picking on him because he’s your brother!” But then I was like “Maybe she just really thought the poem sucked, come on.” God I hate that show.
Anyway, Yick wants to use more of Steph’s papers. Arthur initially refuses, saying that once was an experiment, more than that is cheating, but Yick is just like “Come on!” so Arthur goes along with it.
Kathleen, Melanie, and two kids who never get names* want more drugs. Man, I should’ve been a drug dealer in middle school. Er, I mean, a vitamin pill dealer. Yeah. That’s what I meant.
So they’re all high in class again, and Raditch hands back a new batch of papers. Raditch actually recognized this last paper from Yick as being plagiarized from Stephanie Kaye. Raditch makes all his students write like 3 papers a week, how does he remember Stephanie’s exact paper?
Raditch asks why Yick plagiarized when he turned in such a good paper last week, so Yick points out that paper was also plagiarized, and he got a better grade on it than Stephanie did originally. The Drug Bunch are all laughing their heads off by now, and Raditch is PISSED and tells them to be quiet. He tells Yick that he should never let a perceived imperfection in a system justify cheating, and makes Arthur and Yick write papers on why they did this and why it was wrong at detention that afternoon.
Later, Steph confronts Joey at the diner, telling him that selling drugs is wrong. Joey laughs and says they weren’t real drugs. Kathleen and Melanie happen to overhear this, and are not pleased.
Yick says missing basketball practice for detention is all Raditch’s fault, he can’t write some dumb paper, blahblah. Arthur’s had enough of it, and tells Yick maybe if he actually tried in class and stopped blaming Raditch all the time, Raditch would start taking him more seriously. This gives Yick the spark he needs to finish his paper.
The Drug Bunch want their money back. Joey doesn’t have it, because he spent it on clothes already. This is unacceptable, and the gang chases Joey as he tries to run away. Despite being a year older, he’s the same size as the Drug Bunch, so he doesn’t stand a chance.
In Raditch’s class, Raditch reads a special paper someone wrote, about looking past appearances or something, and how one kid who’s super disorganized gets really discouraged when he gets called names. After class, Raditch calls Yick over. It turns out it was his paper that he just read, and he says it was genuinely good.
Raditch asks for a clean slate – they’ll both try harder, and Raditch will stop calling him “Mr. Yu the Disorganized”. It’s a deal.
Turns out the Drug Bunch locked Joey in the broom closet. And took his clothes.
Notes of Interest:
The actor who plays Yick Yu, Siluck Saysanasy, was born in Laos. They never say where Yick’s family is from on the show, just that they’re refugees from somewhere (that comes up in another episode). I’ve never been able figure out what Yick’s nationality would be based on his name, so I’m going to just go with that Yick’s from Laos as well.
He doesn’t have much in terms of acting credits – literally half of the shows he’s been on are part of the Degrassi franchise. It seems his true calling is directing – he’s been some sort of assistant director on… well, a lot of movies that nobody liked (like The Love Guru), plus some others. He also stood as a trainee assistant director on 17 episodes of Degrassi: TNG, as well as appearing as Yick in two episodes. He’s also apparently best friends with the guy who played Joey, even though their characters didn’t interact all that much.
And apparently re: my earlier thing about Greeks, there’s a neighborhood called Greekton – which I assume is like a Chinatown, but Greek – in Toronto. So I guess that’s why there’s so many Greek kids on Degrassi. It’s still weird that it seems like there’s more Greeks than there are French or British people. But that’s cool that there are so many at all, along with people like Siluck/Yick. So it’s like nobody’s a token minority and it feels like it’s a real school or something!