Original airdate: Feb 8 1987
Rick (who just by the way got held back one grade) is reading some magazine over breakfast. His dad thinks he stole the magazine, says money doesn’t grow on trees, and throws out the magazine. Rick mutters something under his breath, and Rick’s dad gets mad and hits him. UH- OH. Then the jaunty theme tune plays. DOUBLE UH-OH. Wait, no, what?
At school, Joey Jeremiah skateboards into Rick’s bike and cuts his forehead open. SMOOTH MOVE, JOEY. HAVE A NICE TRIP? SEE YOU NEXT FALL! Haha. Classic humor.
[Disclaimer: None of the kids on the show said those lame jokes. That was entirely me.]
Raditch, who was outside, sends Joey to the nurse and tells him to go to the principal after that because he’s been spoken to about his horseplay.
7th graders Caitlin and Suzie talk about Rick. They think he’s cute, but Caitlin heard he’s on probation. She thinks it’s because he gets into fights a lot, on account of he’s always covered in bruises. If only she knew the truth.
Oh and just fyi for any viewers of Degrassi: The Next Generation – Rick is basically Sean. Except Sean doesn’t just disappear without a trace at some point.
As Steph changes in the bathroom like always, she says hello to Voula. Voula is all “Oh what will people say when they find out the school president was talking to a lowly peasant like me!” Dang Voula, I know Stephanie didn’t thank you for doing all that work but why you gotta be so rude all the time? I mean, geez, seriously. Stephanie actually tries calling out Voula for being so rude, and Voula asks what Stephanie’s planning to do for picture day. Steph says she’ll just wear the clothes she always wears while at school, and Voula’s like “Yeah I’m sure your mom will LOVE to see you wearing all those whore clothes in your school pictures!” [Voula didn’t say whore. I have nothing against whores. I just feel like “whore clothes” would be an appropriate description a middle schooler might use for Stephanie’s wardrobe.]
Catilin and Suzie observe that Rick never smiles, so they resolve to do something to make him smile. That’s actually super adorable.
Um and Joey’s planning on wearing his jean jacket to photo day. But his mom chopped the jacket up for part because it was so wrecked. Joey’s disappointed, but his parents are like “we bought you a new jacket last week, wear that!” Joey rightly asserts that wearing the new jacket will make him look super lame. Joey’s Degrassi: TNG equivalent is Shawn because they both share a hatred of people fixing up their denim… Wait, I’m mixing up shows.
The next day, Rick overhears Joey complaining about his jacket. He offers to sell Joey an already beaten up jacket if he wants it. Joey’s going to Rick’s house after school to look at it. Also important, sort of, is Joey complaining that his parents ripping up his jacket is child abuse.
Caitlin and Suzie decide to tell Rick a joke, and I quote “Why did the turtle cross the road? Because it was the chicken’s day off! Ba-dum-dum.” Rick doesn’t laugh. Even I thought that was terrible, and I made a “see you next fall” joke earlier.
Stephanie begs Voula to help her figure out what to do for picture day. If she wears her home clothes, everyone will laugh, but if she wears her school clothes, her mom will ground her. Voula says “Your problem,” and ignores Steph after that. Voula’s cold, man.
Here’s my idea: Stephanie, just put on your home clothes and take off your makeup right before the pictures. Or just wear your baggy old lady home clothes the whole school day, and when people ask, tell them it’s for picture day. Lots of people wear weird stuff on picture day, come on.
So Joey arrives at Rick’s place. It’s a mess. Joey comments on this and asks why Rick’s mom never cleans up. Rick says he doesn’t have a mom. No one comments on how freaking rude it is to comment on how messy someone’s house is.
Rick pulls a bottle of Coke out of the fridge, hesitates, and reluctantly offers Joey the other bottle. Joey accepts. Rick pulls out the jacket, which he says belonged to his older brother
Tracker Frank, who moved out at some point. Joey loves the jacket. Just then, Rick’s dad comes home.
He asks who Joey is, and then ignores Joey when he tries to introduce himself, going into a thing about the awful day he’s had. Joey’s just like “… So how much do I owe for the jacket?” Rick tells him it’s fine, just bring money to school tomorrow. Rick’s dad goes into the fridge and is all “What’s this? I thought we had two bottles of pop in here this morning.” He looks over at Rick, who is holding his own bottle and Joey’s.
Panic fills Rick’s eyes as he starts nudging Joey towards the door and telling him to leave. Rick’s dad starts ranting about “You think we can afford to give away everything to every little punk who comes by?!” Rick really forces Joey to leave, and the door closes right as Rick’s dad starts REALLY yelling and there’s lots of crashing sounds and Rick asking him to stop. Joey runs away.
The one bottle didn’t even look like it was open yet in the first place, the other bottle barely had anything drunk out of it, and since Rick and Rick’s dad are related, it seems like Rick’s dad could’ve just taken the bottle Rick had been drinking out of. But I guess crazy child abusers don’t think straight like that.
The kid who plays Rick has some decent biceps for being like 14. The only reason I mention that is because he wears a tanktop all the time.
Anyway he sobs on his bed and his dad knocks on the door saying “It won’t happen again!” Sure it won’t, dad. Sure it won’t.
Stephanie says she decided to just be herself. Why didn’t she just wear a sweater, though? Anyway Voula is all snotty and says “I’d love to see your mother’s face when she sees the pictures!”
Also for some reason Heather and Erika were getting their pictures taken with the grade 7 class even though they’re in grade 8.
Rick confronts Joey, demanding $15 for the jacket. Joey only has 10 on him, so Rick wants the jacket back. There’s a back-and-forth between them, Joey begging to keep the jacket for picture day and Rick demanding it back. I don’t know what the big deal is, he’s already wearing it, and he’s got 2/3 of the money on him, Rick, come on.
Rick finally agrees to take the $10 and get the rest from Joey after school, as long as Joey promises not to rip him off. Rick leaves to go… somewhere, and Joey asks if they’re going to talk about what happened yesterday. Rick threatens him and tells him not to say anything.
I love that Raditch’s handwriting slants upwards. They’re having a lesson on “confusing words”, which seems to be stuff like the difference between “breath” and “breathe”. If only Mr. Raditch taught the greater majority of internet users this sort of information.
Joey and… other kid are talking in class again. Other kid suspects the kid Joey was talking about getting abused earlier is actually Rick. I don’t remember them discussing this earlier, so okay. Anyway Raditch sends Joey to the principal for being disruptive. I would’ve taken that trip to the principal to say “Hey, I saw this kid getting beaten up by his dad yesterday, what do I do?” But then again, it’s tough when that stuff happens. You don’t want to be a snitch, you don’t know if it’s your place to say anything, etc. But please, if you DO see something like that, please do contact the authorities. I mean, a mother spanking her child is one thing, but a dad violently beating his son over drinking the last bottle of soda is another.
Well blow me down, Joey actually talks to the principal’s receptionist, asking what he should do if he knew a kid who was getting beaten up by his parents. Doris (the receptionist) asks if the kid is question is attending Degrassi, which Joey denies. He starts acting suspiciously and runs off, and Doris looks concerned and looks through her Rolodex to find the contact info for Children’s Aid.
History lesson: A Rolodex is an ancient, primitive devise that people used to store the contact information for when there were too many contacts to just keep an address book. Your typical Rolodex was basically a wheel, so you could just turn (or roll, if you will) all the pages at once to get the one you needed.
Rick follows Joey home to get the $5 he’s still owed. The chain on Rick’s bike falls off, and Joey assures him he can get it fixed at his house. They’re surprised to see a motorcycle outside Joey’s house. Joey doesn’t know what it’s doing there. Maybe someone’s just being a douche and parked outside his house for no reason. Although that’s clearly not the case because why would they bring it up if it had nothing to do with the plot?
Joey’s dad is talking to some guy, saying “We’ve raised four kids and never abused any of them, even though sometimes we’ve felt like it! *laughs*” I’d sure be interested in seeing Joey’s siblings, too bad they’re never even mentioned again.
So it turns out the guy is from Children’s Aid, and he says they take all these calls very seriously. When Joey and Rick comes in, he goes over to talk to Joey, commenting on the nasty bruise and cut he’s got.
Joey’s dad denies ever laying a hand on Joey, and Joey confirms he just fell on some bikes. The guy, who looks like blond Sid Vicious, asks who Joey was talking to Doris about, then. Rick starts edging towards the door, as Sid Vicious says if what Joey says is true, then whoever the abused kid is really needs help, even if he won’t admit it. Rick runs away but doesn’t get far because his bike is still broken.
Sid Vicious comes out and offers to help him, knowing a thing or two about bikes. He then offers to help Rick with the whole abuse thing, and Rick is like “blah I don’t need your help! What do you care?!” Sid Vicious wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t care, and says he hates seeing kids get hurt, even when it’s not even physical. He says Rick looks really sad, and asks if there’s anywhere else that Rick could stay, and the scene ends.
At school, Rick asks for the rest of the money. Joey denies ever telling anyone anything about Rick, and Rick is like “yeah, whatever. Anyway I might be going to live with my brother soon. You could come over sometime. He might let you ride his harley.” Joey likes this idea.
Then Rick steals his beret, grins, calls him “buddy” and throws the beret back. Caitlin and Suzie are in awe of seeing Rick actually smiling.
Oh um and Stephanie. At picture day, she appeared to have a sudden moment of panic and self-doubt, and as she sat down for the picture she pulled her tube top up higher. That was the conclusion of that story for the episode. Thrilling.
Now it’s time for “Who did it better?”
Boy Meets World did an abuse episode, with a character I don’t believe we’d ever seen before and never see again. I hate it when shows do that, like that Saved By the Bell thing where Zach invites a homeless man and his daughter to live in his house and they’re never mentioned again. It just makes the whole thing so cheap when there’s these issues that never come up again. Eh. At least the BMW episode had a PSA for “if this has happened to you or someone you know, please call this number”.
This DJH episode was good from an outsiders standpoint. I mean obviously the abuse thing never came up before, and I’m not sure it ever comes up again besides being the explanation for why Rick doesn’t live with his dad anymore. But it seemed like it focused more on Joey, so the issues isn’t so much “What do you do when you’re being abused?” and more “What do you do when someone you know is being abused?”
Glee didn’t have a physical abuse episode, so okay there.
Degrassi: The Next Generation for sure wins this round out of the four shows, though. Like the others, the abuse never comes up before it’s a focus of the episode, since the character it involves had never even been on the show before. The abuse does come up after it’s resolved, though, in the form of the abuse character feeling really ridiculous when everyone talks about what a good father he had, how he really loved his son, etc, when he knows that his dad abused him pretty hard.
Speaking of which, GOSH the abuse scenes in TNG were pretty intense. I was genuinely afraid for Craig, and he ended up with some HUMONGOUS bruises. He had this huge one on his stomach that I’m sure was pretty uncomfortable. Like Rick’s dad, Craig’s dad overreacted to pretty much everything. Craig even jumped out of a second-story window at one point to get away from his dad. I think perhaps it helped that they gave TNG two episodes to deal with the story rather than one, so they could flesh out the story more so it wasn’t like resolved as soon as we found out about it.
Final thoughts: Voula is a great example of how being bitter can make a person extremely unlikeable.