Last night, I watched a classic episode from the 3rd season of Degrassi: The Next Generation, Take On Me!
Why Was I Watching It, eh?
A few days ago, when I wrote my review of R.L. Stine’s Trapped, I started thinking about how much I love Degrassi‘s take on The Breakfast Club. That led to me getting out my Season 3 DVD and watching Take On Me!
What Was It Aboot?
This episode originally aired on February 16th, 2004. It’s the weekend in Canada but instead of watching a hockey game and studying the dual languages of their native country, five Degrassi high school students are serving detention. Ellie Nash (Stacey Farber) skipped school. Hazel Aden (Andrea Lewis) used the school computers to look up porn. Jimmy Brooks (DRAKE! — back when he was still known as Aubrey Graham) and Toby Isaacs (Jake Goldsbie) hacked into the school’s computers in an attempt to change Jimmy’s grades. And rebel Sean Cameron (Daniel Clark) is in detention because he’s suspected of being a part of a gang of thieves who are terrorizing the entire school!
Together, the five students talk about their different cliques, play truth or dare, and sneak up to the roof. Ellie and Sean start to fall for each other but how will Sean react when he discovers that Ellie has a secret motive for being in detention?
This is one of those episodes of Degrassi that you either love or you hate. You either can’t believe how blatantly the show ripped off The Breakfast Club or else you watch it and go, “Oh cool, they’re ripping off The Breakfast Club!”
Myself, I love this episode! Not only does it center on two of my favorite characters, Ellie and Sean, but it’s also the start of the Ellie/Sean romance! Unfortunately, the Ellie/Sean romance would only last a few episodes but they were a great couple. Stacey Farber and Daniel Clark had a really great chemistry in their scenes together, as can be seen in this episode when they go up to the roof and they talk about thievery and self-harm. The scene where Ellie shows Sean the scars on her arm is one of the best in the history of Degrassi.
This episode also features one of my favorite Degrassi exchanges. When Ellie says she’s in detention for skipping school, Jimmy deadpans, “Wow, that’s a great story, Ellie.” It’s just the way the line is delivered.
What Did Not Work:
There’s this really weird subplot involving the principal, Mr. Radish (Dan Woods). Radish is at the school to supervise detention. He brags about how it’s all a part of his new “no tolerance” policy for misbehavior. However, Archie “Snake” Simpson (Stefan Brogren), the media arts teacher, stops by the school and tells Mr. Radish that there’s more to life than just following rules. Sometimes, tolerance is a good thing.
At the end of the episode, a chastised Mr. Radish tells the detention kids that he’s just trying to do the right thing. He suddenly decides to show some tolerance and he lets everyone go home early. The thing is, though — Sean was stealing things from the school. And Jimmy did bully Toby into trying to change his grades and Toby did hack into the school’s computer. Hazel and Ellie were both in detention for minor reasons but the three guys actually did some serious things wrong. Their behavior was exactly the sort of thing that would get most students in a lot more trouble than just weekend detention. If anything, Mr. Radish was being nice by just having them give up a few weekends as opposed to calling the cops.
Finally, the end of the episode reveals that Ellie was actually working undercover for the local news station, for a story they were planning on doing about the thefts at the school. But why would a big city news station care about such a minor crime and whose bright idea was it to get the story by putting an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl in potential danger by sending her in with a tape recorder? And couldn’t they have at least given Ellie a less bulky tape recorder? It’s almost like they wanted her to get caught.
“Oh my God! Just Like Me!” Moments
Honestly, every single minute of every single episode of Degrassi is pretty much an “Oh my God! Just like me!” moment, as far as I’m concerned. That said, I always related the most to Ellie. We both have red hair. We both spent a good deal of high school dressed in black. We both went through a cutting phase and a rubber band on the wrist phase and I’ve always appreciated the sensitive way that Degrassi handled that subject matter. (Whatever flaws it may have had, Degrassi was way ahead of its time when it came to dealing with anxiety.)
I especially related to Ellie in this episode, both because I always ended up crushing on the sensitive rebels like Sean Cameron and I also got assigned detention a few times. Of course, I always skipped detention because I was really into the whole “No one’s going to tell me what to do” thing. Strangely, I never got in any trouble for not showing up to detention and I always wondered if everyone regularly skipped or if it was just me.
There’s nothing more fun and emotionally rewarding than weekend detention!