DJH: 107, “The Best Laid Plans” and 108, “Nothing to Fear”

“The Best Laid Plans”, Mar 1 1987

I’m going to start off by pointing out the year. The Degrassi franchise has the most confused timeline of any show that doesn’t do a bunch time skips yet still manages to take place in present day. The first episode premiered in January yet was about the beginning of the school year, which meant it took place in September despite airing in January. So that’s the question – did the first episode take place in September 1987, meaning it took place after it aired, or 1986, which would’ve been the September before it aired? Season 2 is the second half of the school year, so does that mean it takes place January-June 1988 (which is when it aired), or does it take place at the same time the first season was airing? Looking to the timeline in Degrassi: TNG doesn’t help, because the timeline on THAT show doesn’t make any sense ever since they started drawing out one school year into multiple seasons. Emma was supposed to be born in 1988, but a character that’s a year older than her was also born in 1988, and a character that’s the same age as her was born in 1990. I think Degrassi: TNG is technically supposed to be taking place in like 2010 or 2011 right now.

It’s confusing, is what I’m saying.

Anyway both these episodes are kind of lame.

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Joey wants to play doctor with Stephanie. Literally, he said he has a great bedside manner. Steph says no, and asks Wheels if he’d like to go to a movie on Friday to make up for their awful first date. Wheels consents to the date.

Voula wears that shirt an awful lot.
Voula wears that shirt an awful lot.

Steph finds Voula in the bathroom and tells her how she asked out Wheels. Voula does her usual “Lucky me! The school president is sharing her love life with me!” Stephanie asks her how long she’s planning on dragging out this bitterness, because she’s already apologized a thousand times for not thanking her for writing her speech and not giving the speech at the dance. I get that Voula’s just mad and betrayed and doesn’t feel like forgiving Stephanie, but she seriously needs to start dialing down the shrew inside, it’s getting real old.

Steph is planning to wear something super sexy on the date, but one of the twins asks how she’s planning on doing that because her mom doesn’t know she dresses that way at school. Uh oh!

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Yick found a pornography VHS in his brother’s room. His brother isn’t going to be home this weekend, so he wants to watch it with Arthur.

So, can any of you help me out here? Is that a real thing that guys do, watch porn with their friends? I think that would be super awkward to watch porn videos with people you weren’t hoping to sleep with. I mean, what do you do? You just sit there with your buddies and try to ignore everyone else’s erections? Then what? I mean, if you all get erections, do you make a deal as to who gets to masturbate in the bathroom first? Or do you just chill and do it in front of each other? Or with each other?

I totally get watching some hot video at home and telling your bros about it at school the next day, but why would want to watch it with your heterosexual friends whom you are not sexually attracted to?

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Stephanie’s mom works at a pharmacy. And it turns out she’s got a date on Friday! Whoa that’s when Steph’s date is! How lucky!

Steph asks if the guy is cute, and her mom is hilarious because she’s like “Well… In his own way.” So he’s ugly but adorable, I guess.

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What a weird selection of books in the school library.

The twins asks Steph what she’d do if Wheels tried something. Stephanie says she’d let him. All the Way with Stephanie Kaye indeed!

Tall guy and not-Yick overhear this and find Joey and Wheels in the bathroom and tell them that Steph’s planning to do things with Wheels on their date. Then they all yell “All the Way with Stephanie Kaye.” I forgot they actually say that in the episode.

Also Arthur overhears this, and disapproves.

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The rumor spreads like wildfire, and one of the twins advises Stephanie to cancel the date until the rumors die down. But other twin says she’d be crazy to cancel the date. Stephanie plays it cool and says she doesn’t mind, and that sex is no big deal. I like Stephanie in this episode – it’s kind of subtle that she’s actually really not ready, but she keeps playing herself up like she’s this cool, experienced chick.

Also Voula shows up and says something horrible, and one of the twins is just like ‘Nice, Voula” and rolls her eyes. Voula appears to have actually regretted saying something mean for once after that.

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Kathleen (the blonde girl, remember) thinks it’s disgusting that their own class president is thinking about having sex. Melanie, sporting an awesome sheep sweater that I think Rachel Berry of Glee wishes she had, thinks that sex is no big deal. Kathleen’s all “Well I’m saving myself for my husband” and Melanie makes fun of her and says “What husband? Who’d be stupid enough to marry you?” Kathleen and Voula are both shrews, but Kathleen is more along the lines of the obnoxious judgmental know-it-all while Voula’s just mean. Kathleen’s that girl who whenever she says anything you just roll your eyes and get back to work. Voula’s the girl who says things and you just kind of gape at her in disbelief that she said what she did. Also Voula has like no characterization besides having a strict father and being mean to Stephanie. Snake didn’t even talk until two episodes ago and we got a better sense of his character than we do of Voula’s.

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Wheels asks his dad how old he was when he lost his virginity, while walking a tiny dog. Wheels’s dad says he was a lot older than Wheels is now.

Wheels’s dad says that sex isn’t something you do just for fun. It’s complicated and comes with responsibilities. Wheels is only 14 and still has lots of things to do before sex. Well said, Wheels’s dad.

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Stephanie, sporting the second awesome animal sweater of the episode, asks her mom about the first time she had sex. Steph’s mom says they should talk. But Steph is all “I already know about the birds and the bees, I’m not a child.”

At school the next(?) day, Joey starts loudly telling Wheels he needs to buy some condoms. He’s not wrong.

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Voula overhears this and finds Stephanie in the bathroom. Surprisingly, she isn’t a total jerk and asks Stephanie if she’s really planning on having sex with Wheel. Steph’s like “Oh yeah, for sure.” Voula clearly thinks this is a bad idea, but instead of going on, she just apologizes for calling Stephanie a sleaze earlier. Who knew all it took to start repairing their relationship was the prospect of sex?

After school, Wheels goes to buy some condoms. Uh-oh he’s at the pharmacy Stephanie’s mom works at! I hope that doesn’t create any awkwardness later on.

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You know, they really oughtta teach more about condoms in sex ed classes. Pretty much all they taught my class was that small condoms will fit even the largest of penises so don’t ever let a guy tell you he’s too big for a condom, or let him buy a jumbo-sized one because if it’s too big it’ll slip off. But there’s so many other things about condoms, like it’s a good idea to wear one even if you’re receiving oral sex, especially if you’re worried about the spread of diseases or if the giver doesn’t like having semen in his/her mouth. Or that if a man complains that he hates condoms because they’re too tight and restrictive, he probably has a latex allergy and should switch to non-latex condoms instead of just foregoing them altogether.

Well anyway Wheels buys a really small pack of condoms and this old lady gives him a judgmental look. Also Stephanie’s mom gives him some pamphlets on STDs before he leaves.

Later, Yick asks if he can invite more people over to watch Swamp Sex Robots. Arthur’s cool with that. Nothing like a porn-viewing party to liven up the evening.

Ms. Kaye asks what Arthur and Steph have planned for the evening. Steph’s just like “Umm I’m gonna see a movie… with friends” and Arthur says he’s just going to watch tv. Mrs. Kaye catches on to how weird they’re acting, but doesn’t say anything about it. But she does say there was a boy about their age that came in looking for condoms so here’s some pamphlets on teen sex.

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Wheels leaves for his date and awwww he’s buying flowers! That’s sweet.

Steph and Arthur are both displeased that Ms. Kaye’s date is late. They can’t get their plans going until he shows up. Wheels and Ms. Kaye’s date show up at the same time, with the exact same bouquet of flowers. Arthur gets the door and tries to get Wheels to come back in a few minutes. Wheels is confused as to why Arthur is there since he doesn’t know he’s Steph’s brother, but no one explains because Ms. Kaye comes to the door right then.

She recognizes Wheels as the kid from the drugstore before, and puts two and two together and angrily calls for Stephanie. She comes down in her robe, but the robe flaps up and Ms. Kaye can see what she’s wearing.

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Or not wearing.

She postpones her date and makes Steph and Wheels sit down to talk to them about sex or something. Then there’s a knock at the door, and Arthur answers it, and it’s Yick and some other guys, who all want to see the porno.

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The next day,Wheels tells Joey what happened, and says he thinks he’ll only be friends with Steph for now. Joey thinks this is rad, because it means she’s available! Haha, Joey, you’re a loser.

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Meanwhile, Stephanie is walking to school with Voula. She says that her mom gave her this really mad lecture about not lying to her and stuff, and she’s super grounded. So grounded in fact that she’s not even allowed over at Voula’s place. Man when you can’t even go to the house of your friend whose dad makes her dress like a Mennonite, you KNOW you’re in trouble. [No offense against Mennonites, by the way]

Then Voula asks if Stephanie was actually intending to have sex with Wheels after all. Steph doesn’t answer, just tilts her head slightly. I can’t really read what that response is supposed to mean. Maybe that she doesn’t know if she actually would’ve gone all the way?

Season 1 of Degrassi: TNG also has an episode dealing with 8th graders deciding if they should have sex, and two 7th grade boys trying to watch porn. The first storyline ends with them deciding they aren’t ready and then blowing up the condoms like balloons. The second one involves the boys getting caught by the one guy’s dad. And then it gets really weird because the dad makes them sit there and look at the porn with him which seems illegal and I think would more likely create a complex than it would teach the boys about not objectifying women. Also the dad makes them look at gay porn too, which is even more confusing. I’m not really sure what the point of making them look at guys having sex in addition to looking at naked women was supposed to teach. I think it would make more sense if the lesson there was about how sometimes you can be turned on by things you don’t necessarily believe in – like some people are turned on by things in pornography that they aren’t necessarily attracted to outside of pornography, like gay sex or bondage. Outside of your fantasies or the bedroom, you wouldn’t want to be tied up, bound and gagged, but thinking about it in the context of having sex with a consenting partner can be arousing for some people.

Man this one post is going to make this blog impossible to access from schools and some offices. How many times did I say “porn” in this post?

It’s too bad, we never got to find out what exactly “Swamp Sex Robots” were or what they did.

 

 

“Nothing to Fear”, March 8 1987

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LD prepares to leave for school, eating marshmallows and toast. Her dad tells her to remember ot clean the kitchen right after school, but LD protests, saying he told her she could help work on Mr. Jeremiah’s transmission that afternoon. That’s not a weird innuendo, LD’s dad is a car mechanic.

LD’s dad (boy would it be great if any of these people had names) gets all mad at her for not being a little lady and fooling around with cars and stuff and wearing a hat. THE NERVE. She just rolls her eyes and rides off on her bike muttering “drop dead.” Coincidentally, right at that moment, her dad collapses and tells the other guy in the garage to call 911. Or maybe it wasn’t a coincidence and LD is a witch.

For Ms. Avery’s class, the kids are supposed to make maps of an assigned area of the neighborhood. LD’s in a group with Voula and a girl who’s always just be in the background and never said anything yet. Part of their assigned area includes the hospital, and LD mentions she hates hospitals. Too bad her dad is in one! Also doesn’t everybody hate hospitals?

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The girls agree to wait for her at the school at 4:30 so LD can have time to clean the kitchen. THRILLING. LD complains about her dad being so strict since her brothers moved. Why is it everyone on this show has a brother we’ve never seen? Caitlin has a brother who’s moved out, Joey has three or four siblings we never see. Yick has a brother. LD has brothers. Rick has a brother we actually do see once or twice. What’s up with that? Nobody has sisters.

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The class snake escaped. Melanie is freaking out because she hates snakes and is afraid the snake will crawl up her leg.

So later that day, LD comes home and finds out her dad is in the hospital. She has to pack some things for him, and has a flashback to when her mom went to the hospital because she was very sick. So LD hates hospitals because her mom died in one, I guess.

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Meanwhile Spike and Voula are waiting for LD on the steps. Spike figures LD’s not gonna show. They did a science project the previous year and Spike ended up doing all the work herself. When Voula points out that LD had the flu during that project, Spike says LD’s always got excuses.

Eventually they call LD’s house and find out what’s up. She claims she forgot about it, and Spike says “See? She’s always got an excuse.” Then LD ells the assistant mechanic that she has too much work to do to visit her father that day.

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Spike and Voula ask if LD is planning on actually helping them finish the project that afternoon. LD says she’s busy, and Spike snaps and is all “Why don’t you actually do some work for a change?!” For tone context she sounds a bit like Gretchen in Mean Girls when she says “You can’t sit with us!” I like that we’ve only heard Spike talk for 5 minutes and she’s already snapped. That’s awesome.

Anyway LD says her dad is in the hospital, and Spike apologizes and says they’ll cover for her on the project.

Later LD works up the nerve to visit the hospital with a little bouquet of flowers. She freaks out, though, and just asks the receptionist nurse to give hrer dad the flowers so she can leave. Then she calls her dad from a payphone. Ah. Payphones.

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Her dad says he’s fine but will be in the hospital for a little while longer. Also his hospital room has a huge number of family photos in it. LD says she didn’t visit him because of her class project. LD’s dad understands and tells her to make sure the kitchen is clean by the time he comes back. They end the call and LD’s dad is clearly saddened by his daughter not visiting.

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The next day, Arthur, Yick, and Suzie hunt down the snake and leave a little snake home for him in the boiler room. Yick doesn’t understand why a cold-blooded creature would care about a hot room. Arthur’s like “Please, I actually did research.” Arthur is correct – because snakes are cold-blooded, they seek out warm areas. Usually when a snake goes missing from its enclosure at a zoo they find the snake sleeping on a radiator or something in the building or in another building.

Melanie’s at her locker, minding her own business. The principal on the PA system assures students there is only the one snake on the loose, and rumors about 12 tarantulas also being missing are completely false. Yep, sounds like middle school.

Some loser kids, including the one who pulled on Melanie’s bra a couple episodes ago, dangle a toy snake over her locker door.

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When she finally notices, she jumps and yells “SNAKE!”

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Snake the person responds, “Yeah?” That is the funniest joke in this whole show, I think. I mean it’s funny enough just on its own, but it gets better when you think about how she shouted it so panicked and frightened and Snake doesn’t seem to be too concerned. His reaction is just like “Did someone call me?” Haha, Snake is awesome. I’m glad he’s the one staple of the Degrassi franchise from the past 27 years.

Voula and Spike have started a little collection of money for LD. The other kids wonder if LD’s dad is really that sick. They don’t know, but LD’s pretty upset, so they’re just trying to help out in what little way they can. Also Stephanie mentions she hates hospitals. I’m sure she doesn’t have some tragic backstory about her mom going to the hospital because she had leukemia or something and then dying. I mean obviously she doesn’t, we just saw her mom in the last episode, but you know what I mean.

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Voula and Spike visit LD’s dad – Mr. Delacorte, finally he has a name! They say they wanted to bring the flowers while LD wasn’t there so it’d be a nice surprise for her next time she showed up. Mr. Delacorte says LD hasn’t visited him yet, because she’s got some important mapping project for school that’s kept her busy. Being LD’s partners and knowing she’s been skipping work because she says she has to visit her dad, Voula and Spike wonder what the heck is going on.

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LD is sad. She explains to Voula that her mom got sick and went to hospital, and even though everyone said she’d be fine, she died. Voula tries to reassure her that just because someone’s in the hospital, it doesn’t mean they’re going to die. Her mom had an operation two months ago and is fine. Voula has a mom?? News to me.

This doesn’t really change LD’s mind, and she talks about how her dad doesn’t like her anyway because she’s not a girl-girl or whatever.

Also there’s an announcement on the PA about the lunch menu being change to “Corn on the Cobra” is just a prank and not to be taken seriously.

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The snake, Amadeus, turned out to have been in someone’s dufflebag (I think Melanie’s?) Melanie realizes the snake isn’t slimy at all, and is actually sort of cute. Arthur picks up Amadeus and wears him, and that jerk kid comes in. He goes into a barely contained panic when he realizes the snake isn’t rubber and runs away. Melanie observes, “Some people are scared by the silliest things.” What a lot of character development in a short amount of time!

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LD finally gets up the nerve to actually  visit her dad in the hospital. As she wanders the halls, trying to find his room, a bodiless dialogue apparently between younger LD and her dad plays. It’s nothing special, and the acting by young LD is terrible. It’s just her asking repeatedly “When’s mummy coming home?” and him being like “She’ll be in the hospital a bit longer” and then finally “…Mummy’s not coming home.”

LD finally finds her dad’s room, and… Well, I’m afraid LD’s dad is no longer with us.

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If you figured that was an Arrested Development reference, good for you, because it was. No one dies in this season of the show.

Yeah, her dad’s fine. He just had an angina, which is essentially chest pains caused by plaque buildup in the arteries. He just needs to take better care of himself, is all.

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As they walk down the hallway, Mr. Delacorte says “Hey, you think hospitals are scary? Try being the parent of a teenaged daughter.” Man no kidding. I mean I was never the parent of a teenager, but I was a teenager, and have an older sister who was also a teenager, and let me tell you

Degrassi:TNG has a couple episodes a little similar to this. One character ends up in the hospital and another really doesn’t want to visit her. But it doesn’t seem to have to do with anything in particular, maybe she just hates hospitals. There’s another episode where a character isn’t doing any work on a group project, but the other members of the group think it’s because she knows they’ve been secretly dating and she’s upset because the guy is her ex-boyfriend, but it turns out she didn’t even notice but was upset because her mom has cancer.

Bonus: Degrassi Talks… Sexuality

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I totally forgot the DJH DVDs contain episodes of the short series “Degrassi Talks.” They made this show after Degrassi High ended. It involves a handful of the cast traveling across Canada and talking to people about various issues while referencing how the tv show handled the same issues. It’s a pretty neat show, because it features real people giving their real opinions on stuff, and even features the actors talking about some of their own experiences. Also it’s got the cheesiest theme song known to man.

I won’t recap the whole thing, but here’s some highlights of the sexuality episode:

  • “Zits aren’t fun, but pubic hair is great!”
  • The actor who plays Joey Jeremiah asked his doctor if there was something he could take to make himself grow taller because he was like 4’8 in 8th grade while everyone else was like a foot taller. Also in 8th grade the tallest girl in the grade asked him to dance, so he had to dance with his head on her bosom. All the other guys were apparently very jealous.
  • “Got an erection during gym… During a shower… You know, with other guys.” Aw man, awkward. Poor kid.
  • Some girl got her first period in gym while they were doing cartwheels, and didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to her.
  • Another girl told her mom she got her period, and her mom ran out and told her father and brothers about it.
  • On masturbation: “I think it could, uh, hurt your chances of having a child later on.” [This is wrong.]
  • One guy went to school with kids who assumed that really nerdy-looking guys must masturbate all the time.
  • When they’re interviewing one girl about when she started liking guys, there’s someone playing bagpipes in the background.
  • The actor who plays Snake waits for the woman to make the first move because he “doesn’t like to push things like that.”
  • They talk to a handful of people who say homosexuality is morally wrong. One guy says gays should just “go somewhere else”, and another drops the classic “They should just be put on an island somewhere.” Hitler would approve.
  • In contrast, they talk to a bunch of people who think it’s a shame how badly gay people are treated. One girl says she thinks it’s dumb that the sex ed classes basically don’t mention homosexuality at all.
  • The actress who plays Caitlin has a sister who is gay. She says when she watched the episode where Caitlin has those dreams about Ms. Avery and wonders if it means she’s gay, the whole plotline hit really close to home because she was also having dreams about her teacher and questioning her sexuality.
  • Caitlin’s actress’s sister (Kim) reveals that the phrase “That’s so gay” that people use to refer to things that suck or are lame was apparently around in the late 1980s. Man, there’s a lot of stuff from Degrassi I wish was still cool these days, but this is not one of them.
  • Kim was in charge of her college’s Gay/Lesbian/etc alliance and put up posters for a meeting, and the posters were defaced with things like “Bring bats, clubs, and other instruments of mutilation” and “Hooray for AIDs.”
  • Kim also says that even though she sometimes worries for her safety as an out lesbian, she’d rather spend a short life helping people out, then a long life hiding.

Kim Mistysyn appears to still be alive, so that’s comforting. According to this article, if this is indeed the same person (it probably is, I mean what are the odds of there being two women named Kim Mistysyn who are both lesbians?), she shares weekday custody of her son with her partner, and the son spends weekends with his biological father who is also gay. Boy is that a solution to people who are like “But a gay couple can’t raise a baby because you need both a male AND female presence in your life!” Just have a pair of homosexual women and a paid of homosexual men raise the baby! Problem solved! Haha.

Oh I guess that article is 12 years old so it might not be accurate anymore, but it’s still interesting.

Bonus 2: Here are links about the books that were in the library shot before.

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Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. “Ginny Brandon is swept from the ballrooms of Paris to the desert sands of Mexico and into the arms of charismatic mercenary Steve Morgan. But this fearless heroine and “hero of all heroes” must first endure countless unforeseen dangers before they can enjoy sensual, exhilarating passion that burns between them.”

Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence.

I can’t make out the title on the next book.

Secret at Jester Moor by Roberta Roleine.  [This is also a steamy romance novel. Also abebooks.com totally screwed up their entry for this book, describing instead a book where a man set to be the country’s next prime minister is torn between wanting to do right by the princess he knocked up, and his ambition to be prime minister.]

Flying Saucers – Serious Business by Frank Edwards.

Paper Moon by Joe David Brown [Hey I’ve seen the movie based on this book! It stars Ryan and Tatum O’Neal!]

I can’t make out the title on the last book.

What a weird assortment, though, for real. Why are there two steamy romance novels in a middle school library?

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