Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Strange Relationship with the Kids of Degrassi

I never could get into shows like Beverly Hills 90210, or Melrose Place. Ostensibly, the reason being was that I was too young when these fateful tales of teenage drama and woe were big on the little screen. At that time, I was on a steady diet of cartoons and Nintendo, and anything more complex beyond "Shredders being an asshole again, turtles! Let's fuck him up!" was far outside what I found myself interested in digesting. I may have occasionally watched Party of Five, but that was mostly because my tiny, cheap, black and white TV could only pick up basic channels, and FOX was one of them, but also because Party of Five had Neve Campell and Jennifer Love Hewitt on it. I don't feel I need to get into further details.

Still, even as I've grown older, creeping towards my thirties and inevitable destruction, I haven't found myself any more interested in taking part in the current wave of CW teen drama. All the dudes with ridiculous washboard abs, or the chicks with cute faces that I remember from some movie but fail to remember the name of. I've never wanted any part of television like that, unless it involves things like smoke monsters, zombies, or vampire slayers named Buffy. Of course, these days something about my distaste for that sort of television has changed, something I find very concerning. It may be the fact that I've been in a relationship for some time now with a women who basically cheats on me with her television set, and by extension she has gotten us both in the same room from time to time for what I can only assume are very kinky threesomes for her. Or, it could be because of these wretched little Canadian vermin:

For those of you who don't live in The Land of Canada, or otherwise find yourselves familiar with the faces of these kids, they are the current stars of a teenage, hour-long drama known as Degrassi, once upon a time called Degrassi: The Next Generation, until everybody who remembered the last generation didn't care anymore, and the "last generation" eventually became the first generation to star in The Next Generation. Still with us? Good. I use to watch the show, years ago, when I was still a young buck in high school. By watch, I mean I would plop my ass on the family computer, surfing the internet for whatever the hell it is I surfed for at age 16 - boobs I assume - while my younger brothers would put on The N, Degrassi's original home when it first received the reboot treatment.

A basic episode of Degrassi would generally pass by in the same mold every week, albeit with tweaks here and there to accommodate whatever the ongoing story was that season. One of the kids - usually one of the most popular with viewers out of the ten or so members of the current cast - would discover some sort of vice, which would often be reflected by whatever real kids were currently doing to fuck up their lives. If it was internet predators, then one of the Degrassi students would go on a chatroom and meet one. If it was drinking cough syrup to get high, one of the kids would then go and by a bunch in that weeks episode. For the purposes of my example, let's just say it was chronic masturbation, and addiction to Internet pornography  in the form of a fetish for older, Asian housewives.

So, for this episode in question, let's just say the star is J.T., because that sounds like the kind of weak shit they would lay on J.T. After all, the poor bastard had an episode that involved a penis pump, so I consider this somehow less humiliating.

 J.T. has been spending a lot of time on the computer, spanking his meat to images of Mi-Yun cleaning her home in nothing but a shy smile. At first, it all sounds innocent enough - by god, he's a teenage by after all. Soon however, it starts to get in the way of J.T.'s day-to-day life. He doesn't hang out with his friends as much, because he's inside, waxing his sword in the dark. He even cuts class in the middle of the episode, so that he can run off to the boy's room and pull up pictures of Yuki sunbathing out by a koi pond. The other kids try to talk some sense into J.T., but alas, he's too far down the rabbit hole. The torrid affair finally reaches it's climax (pun almost certainly intended) when J.T. goes over to his friends house, who just happens to be Asian, and meets his mom. Drama! What can J.T. do, but pull a Fast Times and run into the bathroom to quickly deal with his "situation" brought on by this unexpected turn of events? Only his friend's mom walks in on him, just as he cranks his crank! The humiliation! The shame! Everyone knows, and everyone laughs, even J.T.'s grandmother! The episode ends, teaching us a very important lesson: that it's okay to masturbate to your friends mom if you find her hot, just get a hold of that shit and do it when nobody is around so you don't get caught.

There we have your basic, A to Z setup, execution, and delivery for most episodes of Degrassi. The ongoing theme being that everything, every single, solitary, little carnality these kids may embody by the week, is dealt with by means of only the most devastating extreme. It doesn't seem to matter how minor or commonplace the infraction may be, these kids will almost definitely see the worst outcome if they choose not to do the better thing. It's easy to appreciate that sort of television, if you're both a parent or a child. For the children watching at home, it touches on real, day-to-day dilemmas in a way few other televisions do, because while the inevitable outcome of the problems the kids on Degrassi face may seem completely balls-to-the-wall, the problems themselves are, more often than not, the same sort that any kid may have to deal with. For parents, on the other hand, the show talks to their kids all about things like obsessive masturbation, so that they won't have to have that uncomfortable conversation, or go through the trouble of rummaging through their child's E-mail.

This is Adam. Or, such is his alias. She use to be known as "Gracie", before swapping colors and identifying himself as Adam. Now, I'm not sure where he got the name Adam from. Maybe there's some sort of Lost-like flashback episode revealing the depth of that point. When I was a kid, we had our gay population just like any school. I knew gay men and women growing up. The lifestyle choice has never bothered me; I was taught by my parents to be, if anything, tolerant. I say this because transgender, as it is, is something I sort of scratch my head at. You might say "Well, they're just gay", but ah, no. Those who considered themselves transgender are quick to assert that they are not, however, gay. That's why Adam is Adam, and he is not a she, and everyone identifies him as such. Which means Adam, like any other lad, is interested in getting his freak on with a lady folk.

In one such episode, this situation - or actually the possibility of said situation - comes up. Adam is all excited to go out on a date with a lovely young classmate. But wait, there's just one problem! What if things get a little TOO exciting, and said young lady should become a little grabby? How will she react when she finds out Adam is missing a few important elements that make a man, a man - most pointedly, a cock. Fortunately, Adam's brother Jake has JUST the solution to this problem, a cucumber! That's right Adam, just shove a big, ol' cucumber down your draws, and trick any girl into thinking that not only are you a man, but you also having a raging, rock-hard erection even at times where it may be disgustingly inappropriate!

SPOILER ALERT: Operation: PICKLED DICK turns out to be a complete and shameful failure for all those involved. I, for one, was shocked. This was how I was introduced to the current generation of Degrassi. A bunch of wayward, confused children using cucumbers as cock decoys. I was intrigued.

Adam isn't the only student at Degrassi with progressive tastes in sexuality. There's also Tristan, the local gay kid. He does all the fun gay dude things: hangs out with only women, talks with a snappy lisp, acts more feminine and sassy than the actual female characters. You know, basically just the best friend character to the female lead of any late 90's teen rom-com. You know what? I watch too many movies. Anyway, Tristan has so far had one of my favorite misadventures on the show.

Once, Tristan had an eye for a yoga instructor at the school. I'm not sure if he was positive this kid was also gay or not, but that's beside the point. In a bid to get closer to the object of his desire, Tristan decided to start taking yoga classes as well. During his first class, without any prior experience in yoga, he shows some signs of strain. Yoga-boy advises him to try one of the alternated beginner poses, and Tristan leads to the most obvious conclusion at such a suggestion: he is fatty-fat-fat-McFatface and needs to lose some of that ugly weight NOW. The best way to do this, he reckons, is to of course stop eating all together.

When I tell you this plan results in Tristan becoming hospitalized, it should come as no shock. Hell, we're lucky he didn't also end up in a wheelchair or something. While he is okay following these traumatic events, Tristan never again seems to mention yoga-boy. He was worth starving over, but fuck it I guess.

One of the biggest events this past season has been a very special episode, in the form of a trip to Las Vegas. While a large chunk of the cast went, the focal point of it was the be the wedding of two of it's characters, Drew (I think) - the brother of Adam - and this other chick, I think her name was Monica or something. Overall, I remember I found the episode itself a little dull, but there were a few certain details about the wedding I couldn't help but mull over.

You see, as I gather it, Drew's mom doesn't really like Monica (or whatever her name is), but Jake and Monica are certain they are meant to be. They know Drew's mom would disagree - something about the two of them being too young and whatnot - but the lovers are convinced. They have lived in their seventeen or eighteen years of life, and in living and traveling from one end of their school to the other, both are certain that they could never find another human being they could love as much as they love each other. For reals. Drew's mother is just an evil spiteful bitch, and only wants them to THINK she's speaking out of wisdom and experience when she says they may not be ready for such a huge commitment.. To prove their point, Drew organizes a trip for them to go get married real quick, and tells his mom he's going camping to avoid suspicion. Because he's a man now.

Surprising no one, Jake and Monica realize that maybe they should hold off on their wedding. Maybe if they are planning on doing it by lying to parents and sneaking out past curfew, they still lake the emotional maturity one would have to posses in order to make a marriage work. Maybe. Then again, what do I know.

Most recently, however, the season drew to a close with a different sort of story arc. You see, there was this kid, Cameron. Member of the hockey team (hockey is Canada's football), boyfriend of cute young Maya, and Justin Beiber impersonator.  Cameron, it seems, has emotional issues. He's stressed over hockey, and um..... That's all I remember, really. The kid is dealing with some mild stress, and at one point, decks Maya's ex-boyfriend for no apparant reason. Still, he goes on, throwing tantrums here and there throughout the episode about how hard life is, and all the while acting like a prick to those around him. At one point, he decides to gloat to Maya's ex about what a tool he is, and when Maya's ex shoots back that he is not such hot shit, but is, in fact, a piece of shit, Cameron doesn't take it so well. He kills himself in the school greenhouse by means of, uh.... the plot. It's never really stated.

The story here wasn't in Cameron's completely unsympathetic plight, but actually came in the way Maya handled it. While the show of course took an episode to give us how each kid dealt with the news of Cameron's suicide, Maya's moment came and went with a simple "whatevs. It's cool, bro". It wasn't until the next few episodes we discovered that no sir, all was in fact, not cool. Maya was merely a brewing pot of angst, waiting for her emotions to finally boil over the surface.

Now, I could tell you about the ways Maya in particular went crazy. About how she got her first drunk on, and in the same night, had her first drunk hookup. Or I cold tell you about how she almost gave the same kid a blowjob in her living room before her mother and sister walked in one them. Instead, I'll tell you about the moment that I remember most. When confronted with just what in the fuck she was about to do, Maya flips her lid. The girl who had remained so stoic until now finally broke down, screaming in tears that she did not care what Cameron may have thought about what she was doing, that her broke up with her by killing himself, and that she hated him.

For the first time, I actually, truly felt something for one of these kids. I couldn't find her reaction over dramatic, or silly. I realized I felt bad for this poor little girl, as she screamed those words, "I hate him! I hate him!". Then I realized something: I wasn't just watching this show ironically anymore. I had now tuned in for weeks in a row, eager to see what fresh insanity these kids would find themselves in. Now here I was, actually feeling a tinge of  sympathy for one of them, honest and true.

I wasn't just watching Degrassi anymore. I was WATCHING Degrassi.

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