We’re not even halfway through 2018 yet and I’m already prepared to declare that today’s music video of the day is the best of the year! Now, you’ll notice that I didn’t say that it’s the best song of the year but really, the song’s not that important. What’s important is that, with this video, Drake and director Karena Evans gives us the Degrassi reunion that we’ve all been waiting for!
(Okay, maybe not everyone. Apparently, some people aren’t as obsessed with Degrassi as the rest of us are. But you know what? I love Degrassi. I’ve got almost the entire series on DVD and I’ve watched and rewatched every episode so many times that I can quote most of them from memory.)
Before he found superstardom as Drake, Aubrey Graham was best known (by people like me) for playing Jimmy Brooks. When Degrassi first started, Jimmy was something of a random jock. He got into fights. He played basketball. He dated Ashley Kerwin and dumped her after she took ecstasy and ended up making out with Sean. He dated Hazel until she graduated. He dated Ashley again until she betrayed him to get a recording contract. And, of course, he ended up in a wheelchair after a mean-spirited prank led to Rick Murray shooting him in the back. Jimmy eventually left Toronto for Amsterdam and possibly law school but, as we see in this video, he’s back and so are all of our old favorites.
Admittedly, before this video, there was a previous Degrassi reunion. Back in 2016, the 500th episode of Degrassi featured a class reunion and several old characters did return. Unfortunately, everyone’s favorites — like Paige, Spinner, Marco, and Emma — didn’t get much screen time. Instead, Mo — who really shouldn’t have even been at the reunion since it had only been a year since he graduated — got most of the screen time and seriously, who ever cared about Mo? Meanwhile, beloved graduates like Ellie, Craig, and Manny didn’t even show up. In short, the official Degrassi reunion was a huge disappointment!
Fortunately, this video does a better job of bringing back almost all of our favorites. I guess that’s the power of Drake. True, it’s hard not to be disappointed that Sean Cameron, Joy Hogart, Alex, J.T. Yorke, Johnny DiMarco, and Bruce the Moose didn’t show up. (If you ever had any doubt that Degrassi was a Canadian show, just consider the fact that a major supporting character was named Bruce The Moose.) But check out who did return!
First off, here’s Spinner (Shane Kippel)!
Seriously, it’s not a Degrassi reunion if Spinner isn’t there. Despite the fact that Degrassi was a four-year school, Spinner was enrolled for seven seasons. Okay, so Spinner wasn’t that good of a student but so what? He was the heart and soul of Degrassi! Not only was he the drummer for Toronto’s greatest band, Downtown Sasquatch, but he was also Jimmy’s best friend, except for that time when Jimmy was angry over Spinner’s part in the prank that led to Jimmy getting shot in the back. (Fortunately, they made up.) I’ve seen some people online wondering why Spinner spends so much of this video throwing up. My theory is that it’s an homage to the seventh season episode, Pass the Dutchie. That’s the episode where Spinner, while undergoing chemotherapy, throws up on his English teacher.
(That episode also features one of the greatest lines in Degrassi history, when a stoned Spinner realizes that he’s about to fail English for the third time and exclaims, “What kind of idiot fails his own language three times!?”)
Four of my favorites all showed up together. Getting out of the stylish white car: Paige (Lauren Collins), Ellie (Stacey Farber), Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), and Craig (Jake Epstein). I always related to Ellie, largely because we both had red hair and always wore black to school. I also always felt bad that Craig and Ellie could never quite seem to make things works romantically, though Ellie and Sean were actually a better couple. But I’m just kind of rambling now…
Hey, it’s Terri (Christina Schmidt) and Hazel (Andrea Lewis)! Terri was on the first three seasons of Degrassi, until she was put into a coma by her abusive boyfriend, Rick Murray. (This was the same Rick who would later shoot Jimmy in the back.) Hazel was Jimmy’s girlfriend, until she eventually realized that Jimmy was actually in love with Ellie. It’s probably not a coincidence that Drake is rapping about his ex at the same time that Hazel shows up.
Then the teachers show up! Ms. Kwan (Linlyn Lue) was the tyrannical English teacher who was driven to tears when Jimmy and Spinner egged her car. As for Archie “Snake” Simpson (Stefan Brogren), he’s been the one constant over the course of all the different versions of Degrassi. He started out as a student on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. In School’s Out, he was the first character to say “fuck” on Canadian television. Finally, Mr. Simpson taught the school’s media immersion class and eventually became principal of the school.
About halfway through the video, we learn that Mr. Simpson buys his drugs from Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith).
A longtime fan of the Degrassi franchise, Kevin Smith appeared as himself during season 4 and 5 and also in the second Degrassi movie, Degrassi Goes Hollywood. Smith came to Degrassi to shoot his latest movie, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh? Of course, he brought Mewes with him. While Kevin Smith did end up contributing to the break-up of Caitlin and Joey, he also helped to track down Craig, who was having a manic episode and living on the streets at the time. Later, Smith would return to Degrassi to encourage Paige to take a chance with Alex and to also help launch the acting career of Manny Santos (Cassie Steele).
Speaking of Manny, she returns for Drake’s reunion and, appropriately enough, she’s seen hanging out with Emma (Miriam McDonald). Interestingly, in Degrassi Takes Manhattan, Emma ended up marrying Spinner in a plot twist that caused thousands of Degrassi fans (like me) to roll their eyes in unison. (Seriously, Emma and Spinner barely spoke to each other for 9 seasons and then they suddenly got married.) In this video, Spinner and Emma don’t even seem to acknowledge each other. Maybe they got divorced.
Among the other former Degrassi cast members to make an appearance: Melissa McIntyre (a.k.a. the one and only Ashley Kerwin), Nina Dobrev (who played teen mom-turned-super model Mia), A.J. Saudin (a.k.a. Simpson’s autistic godson, Connor), Sarah Barrable-Tishauer (a.k.a., class President Liberty Van Zandt), Jake Goldsbie (a.k.a. adorable nerd Toby Isaacs), Marc Donato and Dalmar Abuzeid (a.k.a. dorky friends Derek and Danny), and Paula Brancati (who played Jane, the girl who Spinner probably should have married.)
And then there’s Rick Murray (Ephraim Ellis). Despite the fact that Rick was reported to have died shortly after shooting Jimmy, he still showed up for the reunion. Of course, not everyone was happy to see him:
So, for those of you keeping track: Jimmy regained his ability walk, Emma and Spinner are divorced, Rick Murray apparently didn’t die after all, and J.T. Yorke is still dead. Poor J.T.
(Then again, if Rick’s still alive then you have to wonder how his ghost was able to possess Holy J in The Curse of Degrassi. Maybe I’m overthinking this. Anyway…)