(Much as with my previous post, this review probably will not much sense to you unless you’re a longtime Degrassi fan like me. Sorry!)
One year after Degrassi Goes Hollywood, the third Degrassi movie was released. Degrassi Takes Manhattan was broadcast on July 9th, 2010 and, ratings-wise, it was a huge success. Not only did it bring TeenNick its highest ratings ever, it was the number one show viewed by teens that summer.
Why was it such a huge success?
Largely, it was because Degrassi Takes Manhattan served as not only the conclusion to season 9 but it was also the finale of Degrassi: The Next Generation. By the end of Degrassi Takes Manhattan, all of the original Degrassi: TNG plotlines had been resolved. Emma Nelson, who was the show’s main character for 6 seasons, married Spinner Mason. When the series returned for season 10, it would drop The Next Generation from its title and it would simply be known as Degrassi. All of the original characters would be gone, replaced with new students. Degrassi Takes Manhattan was a chance to celebrate what had been and a chance to say goodbye.
And yet, Degrassi Takes Manhattan remains very controversial among the Degrassi fandom. To be honest, a lot of people can’t stand it. My feelings on it are mixed, though I tend to like it more than some.
One of the big problems with Degrassi Takes Manhattan is that none of the original characters actually go to Manhattan. Emma, Manny, Spinner, and Jay all remain in Canada. Instead, the Manhattan portion of the film features Holly J. Sinclair (Charlotte Arnold), Fiona Coyne (Annie Clark), Jane (Paul Brancati), and Fiona’s creepy twin brother, Declan (Landon Liboiron). The New York portion of the film deals with Fiona, Holly J, Declan, and Jane all staying in a Manhattan penthouse and having various adventures in New York. As seems to happen to at least one Degrassi student ever semester, Jane launches a singing career. Holly J interns and falls in love with Declan. Fiona get jealous. It’s nothing all that interesting though it does feature the classic line, “This is New York Holly J, bitch!”
(Say what you will about the character she was playing, Charlotte Arnold was always great at delivering angry one-liners.)
Instead, the part of the film that everyone remembers is Emma (Miriam McDonald) falling in love with Spinner (Shane Kippel) and drunkenly marrying him at Niagara Falls. After Spinner and Emma first look into getting an annulment, they suddenly realize that they really do want to spend the rest of their lives together and they have a recommitment ceremony at the beach!
And it’s actually a pretty sweet scene. As someone who has watched every season of Degrassi, I liked the scene at the beach. It provided closures for a lot of characters. But, that doesn’t change the fact that it didn’t make any sense! In the 9 seasons that led up to Degrassi Takes Manhattan, Spinner and Emma interacted with each other a few times during the first season but, otherwise, they never had much to do with each other. The two of them falling in love came out of nowhere and, at the risk of being dramatic, it almost felt like a betrayal. Anyone who has ever watched Degrassi (and those would be the only people who would really have a reason to watch Manhattan), knows that Emma’s soul mate was Sean Cameron. As for Spinner — well, he dated pretty much everyone on the show at some point, with the notable exception of his future wife, Emma. I always thought he and Darcy made a good couple but, by the time Manhattan went into production, Shenae Grimes was starring on 90210 and presumably wasn’t available to return so that Darcy could get married.
(One thing I did like about the ceremony is that it was conducted by Jay Hogart — played, of course, by Mike Lobel. Jay, of course, was once responsible for Emma getting gonorrhea so it’s nice to see that she’s so forgiving. That said, Jay did look pretty hot all dressed up…)
In the years since this movie aired, snarky fans like me have been joking about how Spinner and Emma probably got divorced a week after the beach ceremony. But, as we all learned from watching the recent reunion episode on Netflix, Spinner and Emma are apparently still married! Well, good for them.
Anyway, controversy aside, I still liked Degrassi Takes Manhattan but, then again, I like anything related to Degrassi. As opposed to School’s Out and Degrassi Goes Hollywood, Degrassi Takes Manhattan is for hardcore Degrassi fans only.