Tag Archives: Degrassi

The Secret Life of the American Teenagers

3 Feb

Teenage love affairs. L to R: Adrian and Ricky, Amy and Ben, Grace and Jack

Have you watched The Secret Life of the American Teenager?  I have and it’s probably one of the most unintentionally hilarious and infuriating shows out there.  Some how it’s attached itself to the inner masochist in me, because I love to watch it even though it’s absolutely painful.  Some people experience the same thing with Jersey Shore, but Secret Life is the one for me.  It has very few redeeming qualities (namely Mayim Bailik and Molly Ringwald), yet I can’t stop watching this train wreck.  There’s plenty I want to discuss/complain about this unrealistic piece of propaganda, but that would lead to an incredibly long post that no one would read.  Instead, over the next few days, I’ll be giving you a post on each aspect of this show.  Today, I want to start with female sexuality.

In Secret Life, good girls abstain and bad girls have sex.  If you have sex then bad things will happen to you.  Example #1: Amy Juergens (Shailene Woodley), a freshman in high school who has a bun in the oven thanks to one night at band camp with Ricky (Daren Kagasoff).  She’s the cautionary tale proving that sex leads to babies, and she won’t let anyone forget that.  She constantly warns her friends not to have sex or they’ll end up pregnant like her (with supportive parents who help take care of the baby, a boyfriend who proposes to her, and classmates who arrange free child care and a job.  BOO FUCKING HOO AMY JUERGENS!  But that’s the next post).  It’s only after many episodes of Amy’s whining, that one friend finally tells her that if you use protection there’s a good chance you won’t get pregnant–but of course the friend is quickly silenced and the topic of safe sex is never brought up again.  Basically, the lesson of the first season is: IF YOU HAVE SEX YOU WILL GET PREGNANT or become the school slut.

Speaking of sluts, Adrian (Francia Raisa) fills in that role.  She’s a majorette and Amy’s baby daddy’s fuck buddy (just get confused?  They try to make it confusing, but it’s really not).  Adrian just loves sex, she’s so sexual, she’s insatiable.  Blah, blah, we get it.  Honestly, I don’t know how she manages to have so much sex, go to school, get straight As, and be a majorette.  That girl is working it.  However, it comes at a sad price.  She has no friends, she’s always angry, Ricky won’t commit, and she ends up in couples counseling with him.  Of course, she uses sex to compensate for an absent father, a near absent mother, and various insecurities, but that’s not really until season 2.  In the mean time, she sexually manipulates Ricky, breaks up relationships, and pressures and ridicules every who isn’t having sex or enjoying it.  She’s supposed to be Amy’s nemisis, since Adrian is sexing up Ricky and Ricky knocked up Amy and all that jazz.  On the bright side, Adrian has managed to have plenty of sex and not get pregnant, so she provides an extreme balance to Amy’s stupidity.

Finally, there’s Grace (Megan Park), the perky, Christian cheerleader who is abstaining until marriage, or that was the plan.  She shares many similarities with Glee‘s Quinn (Dianna Agron), except instead of having sex once and getting pregnant with a guy who isn’t your boyfriend (that’s Amy’s schtick), when Grace finally has sex with her football player boyfriend, Jack (Greg Finley), her overbearing father dies in a plane crash.  Thus, Grace believes her sexuality killed her father, who continually told her the importance of abstaining.  She enters a deep depression (it lasts about half a season) and refuses to have sex with Jack ever again because sex kills!*  Although, I’m behind in episodes, so she may change her mind.  It is very important to teach teenagers that sex can be dangerous and but couldn’t someone get an STD/STI?  Did we have to resort to plan crashes?  However, Grace is my favorite of the three leading ladies, because her story is just so ridiculous, and I would probably feel the same guilt if I thought my sexuality killed my father.    So, I can’t hate on Grace too much.

It blows my mind that people are actually producing these characters anymore.  The whole show seems to have transplanted early 1960s characters into 2009/2010, and just barely updated the jargon.  Secret Life is teaching teenagers (especially young women) the most ludicrous, old fashion ideas on sexuality.  I don’t think high schoolers are mature enough for sex; however, some will and shouldn’t we at least present sex positive images to them?  Especially, positive images of female sexuality, which already has enough negative stereotypes that it doesn’t need any help from an ABC Family show.  I would love it if there was an episode where Adrian explains what sexual precautions she takes, because she could become a positive role model, instead of the man stealing “slut.”  Even Grace could turn it around and become a great character.  I don’t think Grace would need to have sex again to be a sex positive role model, but she does need to stop being pressured into sexual experiences, and should admit that she doesn’t feel ready.  It’s okay to change your mind, it’s okay to realize you weren’t mature enough.  It’s also okay to say no, even if you’ve already had sex.  That’s part of maturing and growing up, and what all the characters need to do.

*I feel so late 80s/early 90s AIDS PSA now!  If you can, watch an episode of the original Degrassi High when they do an AIDS awareness episode and you’ll understand.

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Degrassi: The Next Generation Season 9

29 Dec

All photos from Degrassi on Teen Nick website

As I’ve already made clear, I’m not a fan of the big high school TV dramas.  I tried 90210 and Gossip Girl, but I am a fan of the Degrassi franchise.  From the original Junior High series with Voula, Stephanie Kaye, and Spike getting knocked up with Emma to the Next Generation, where we watched Emma and company completely screw up over and over.

Sadly, living in the UK, I’m a little slow on the Teen Nick line up (not to mention that “the N” became “Teen Nick”) and didn’t realize that the new Degrassi season had even begun, so this post may be a little late in the game.  However, as I caught up with the Season 9 premier last night, I was incredibly disappointed.  The original series (and the revival with The Next Generation) was created in response to shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, where the wealthy teenaged characters were played by 20-somethings.  Degrassi was created to show a more realistic view of high school life, but sadly, the popularity of Gossip Girl and 90210 is altering Degrassi, and not for the better.  After watching the first episode, I’ve identified the major changes, and ways to salvage this show.

Theme Song

As always, the hour long season premier provides drama, new characters, and a new theme song.  I was fine when they removed the lyrics and removed the school location from the opening credits.  Last season’s opener returned to the older style, but a crappy version of “Whatever it takes.”  I didn’t think the opening song could get worse, but this wannabe-punk version did.  If that wasn’t bad enough, they screwed it up again when they let some nasal cat with a guitar the ending credit song.  Honestly, how can one show screw up the theme song twice in one show? Solution: Cut the ending song and go back to any pre-season 8 version.

Gossip Girl-esque Siblings

The Diplomatic Siblings: Declan and Fiona

In regards to new characters, we’ve got Declan (Landon Liboiron) and Fiona (Annie Clark), Diplomatic siblings who are attending the public Degrassi Community School to promote their father’s political agenda (private schools = bad).  Obviously, Declan is bringing the Chuck Bass to Degrassi this year–just look at those eyebrows!  In the first episode he manages to help break up the “Degrassi’s It Couple” and help get one character addicted to meth.  Solution: Go Cruel Intentions (Roger Kumble 1999) with them.  Incest would be the final taboo for Degrassi.

New Girl Jenna

New Girl Jenna

There’s not much to say about Jenna (Jessica Tyler), other than she shouldn’t be allowed to sing.  In her first scene she says she’s so glad “the girls get along at this school” because her old school was “back stab high.”  She must have come from 90210 then.  Later on she says at her old school she was “such a boyfriend stealer.”  Well, then no wonder her old school was back stab high!  At the moment, her character is about as annoying as her voice.  The only bright side is Clare (Aislinn Paul) has a major girl crush on her.  Maybe they will be the next Paige and Alex.  Solution: Cut Jenna or have her and Clare go gay.

Peter and Mia

Peter and Mia

Peter (Jamie Johnston) is on a roll!  Last season started with his girlfriend Darcy (Shanae Grimes) ditching him to volunteer in Africa (or move to Beverly Hills to star in 90210–but whatever), and this season begins with Mia (Nina Dobrev) leaving him for a Parisian modeling gig (aka The Vampire Diaries).  Last season he comforted the loss of Darcy by rebounding with Mia, so what does he do this year?  He rebounds with crystal meth.  That’s right kids.  Peter’s a meth head.  Well, for only one episode, because addiction never lasts more than a week on this show.  On the bright side, his mother, Principal Hatzilakos (Melissa DiMarco) has returned from Regina to rule over Degrassi Community School once more.  Solution: Send Peter to Regina, or hook him up with Riley (Argiris Karras).

No More Liberty!!!!!

Liberty Van Zandt

The saddest thing of this new season is it seems the beloved Liberty Van Zandt (Sarah Barrable-Tishauer) is no longer with the show.  While Manny (Cassie Steele) and Emma (Miriam McDonald) are present in the opening credits, poor Liberty is no where to be seen.  I know she may have started as an annoying and nerdy 12 year old, but giving her baby up for adoption and watching the love her life die from a stabbing, really endured her to me.  I’ll admit, I tear up when she finally cries over J.T.’s  death in “The Bitterest Pill.”  Sadly, none of the other characters can replace her, but bravo to Manny for being promoted to the best character on Degrassi now that Liberty has finally grown up.  Solution: Really, there isn’t anything that can be done to replace Liberty; however, permanently adding Kevin Smith would be a good start.  Also, a vampire at Degrassi could be quite fun.

Well, there you have it.  The first episode of season 9 Degrassi: The Next Generation in a nut shell.  I only have on more thing to add…

Dear Television Gods:

please, please, please promote Spinner (Shane Kippel) to a real show!  All his other friends have left!  Craig (Jake Epstein) was on Broadway in Spring Awakening and Jimmy (Aubrey “Drake” Graham) is out of a wheel chair and up for a grammy, but what about poor Spinner?  The least you could do is send him to a grown up show.

Sincerely,

Liz Thrilla