Degrassi: The Next Generation Recap: the season so far

by guest contributor Jasmine

Note: The N, the American home of Degrassi, doesn’t always show the same episodes in the same order as CTV. So while it is the seventh season on both sides of the St. Lawrence River, it may not always be that way.

The WGA may be striking, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be new shows to watch anywhere. It just means that viewers in the US may have to strike out in new directions — a web-only series like Mr. Robinson’s Driving School on MSNBC may satisfy your itch for quirky, sketch-driven comedy while those of you looking for a teen drama to take the place of “Gossip Girl” when it eventually stops airing new episodes may satisfy that craving with “Degrassi: The Next Generation”.

As much as I’d like to scold you for watching “Gossip Girl” (I confess, I watch it sometimes, though not for long, as those poor HaraGossip girls just make me sad), I’d rather take this opportunity to catch you up on what’s been going on in season 7 of Degrassi.

Season 6 saw the murder of Degrassi student J.T. Yorke at the hands of a Lakehurst boy, a tragic consequence of the tension that had been simmering between Degrassi and its crosstown rival. Students at both schools barely had any time to mourn before a fire destroyed Lakehurst’s schoolbulding, forcing the student bodies to merge and share Degrassi’s facilities. Degrassi isn’t in a mood to play the welcoming host, and Lakehurst isn’t being polite — fights break out whenever students get too close, and teachers are too busy trying to run the school to keep their students from killing each other.

While Degrassi cheerleader Manny works on a bi-partisan committee to increase the peace, Toby doesn’t hesitate to call out the Lakehurst crowd for their contribution to J.T.’s demise. Spinner takes the same tack, using the fear and frustration from a recent testicular cancer diagnosis to battle with anyone and anything that gets in his way. Thank goodness Lakehurst student Jane is there to talk him down from the ledge and help him focus on fighting his illness, and not his fellow students.

Elsewhere, good girl Darcy is reeling. She’s finally coming to terms with the fact that she was raped after being drugged at a party she was forbidden to attend. Boyfriend Peter and school counselor Ms. Sauve are doing what they can, but the only person who knows Darcy was raped is Peter. And now media teacher Mr. Simpson, an unlikely confidant and ally, who promises not to tell anybody else about Darcy’s stark revelation. I’m guessing that his choice to keep mum is going to make for poor consequences for him and for Darcy, but I’m not going to give that away just yet.

And over at University — we’re now in the second year for some recent Degrassi alumni — Marco is finally ready to move on after boyfriend Dylan took off to play professional hockey in Switzerland. Paige’s new fashionista job was the last straw in her relationship with Miss Alex. Ellie is still dating her “plays 23 but looks 33″ editor Jesse. I’m hoping the college portion of the show gets juicier, though I don’t know if dorm life can quite compete with the pressure cooker of high school.

I sense the violence may give way to a fairly palpable resentment, as Lakehurt’s mega-biatch Holly J. (sister to phantom Degrassi student Heather Sinclair) continues to assert her presence. Her misinterpretation of a shared racial (though not exactly racist) joke between Manny and Damian nearly derailed the unification process, and I don’t think she’s quite done yet. It will be interesting to see what other new relationships may form — I’m excited about Jane and Spinner, though the eventual breakup of second year seniors Ashley and Jimmy over a difference of opinion in their musical future is less happily
anticipated.

And yes, I know this is all confusing. Why should you care about a bunch of Canadian teenagers and their drama? It’s entertaining, it feels as authentic as a scripted show can feel, and it’s an import I am happy to promote in the spirit of Canadian-US relations.