Lately, when I’ve rewatched old Degrassi Junior High episodes, I’ve been marveling not only how realistic it is but how typical the plots seem to be. Not cliche, mind you, but a lot of the episodes seem to be what I would expect from the junior high/high school drama genre: drugs, sex, alcohol stories that are just “hard” enough so that you can picture a person of that age dealing with the issues.
Furthermore, when it comes to character development there are expected outcomes to the way certain characters act or consequences for their actions, even if the consequences come a few episodes down the road. In the first season of DJH, Stephanie Kaye was one of the spotlight characters, or at least one of the characters that I remember being so prominent. Her big struggle through that season, which detailed the first half of her eighth grade year, was how to deal with being popular while becoming more mature. The last episode I discussed, “Best Laid Plans” addressed that, especially how she wore provocative clothing while at school yet dressed “down” at home. We also saw how she treated her younger step-brother, Arthur, like crap.
In “Revolution!”, the first season finale, this comes to a head when the seventh graders (or grade sevens? Is that how it’s said?) get all ticked off that Stephanie has been doing … well, doing jack squat as student body president and want her ousted. They cannot stand how stuck up she is and how she basically ignores them, and when Yick asks about becoming the student council “sports rep” she blows him off.
That’s because Stephanie has bigger fish to fry. Wheels turned her down for a date because he needed to study, so she wants to do something to make him jealous and that winds up cozying up to Joey Jeremiah, who even at this young of an age has the type of personality that will lead him into either a career in politics or used car sales. In fact … well, I guess I’ll get to that one day. And what does she do in order to make all plots converge for this episode’s climax? Make him the sports rep.
Naturally, the seventh graders are pissed off about it because it’s a “grade seven” position and they launch a massive protest that comes together quicker than a group of Springfieldians with pitchforks and torches. Soon, the halls of Degrassi Junior High are filled with the chant of “Out of the way, Stephanie Kaye! Out of the way, Stephanie Kaye!” and by the end, Joey quits the sports rep position and Stephanie vows to change and she even walks home with Arthur.
Okay, really not. It had been twenty years since I’d watched this episode and I honestly remembered very little of it except for the “Out of the way, Stephanie Kaye!” chant. Well, that and The Zit Remedy but I’m going to save my discussion of the Zit Remedy and their obvious indie cred for another entry. It’s not one of the episodes that I committed to memory during the time I watched the show on a regular basis, mainly because this was probably the second episode I ever saw and I would have completely forgotten it if my sister and I didn’t spend the next few days shouting “Out of the way, Stephanie Kaye!” whenever we were hanging out together.
But just because this episode wasn’t the most memorable doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it now, especially since it continues that Degrassi tradition of capturing junior high hell. It may seem kind of silly or corny to center and entire episode around a group of seventh graders’ beef with the student council president, but having been the type of person who was heavily into activities in junior high and high school, this is the type of stuff that mattered when you were that age. Sure, Stephanie learns a valuable lesson about making sure you don’t walk all over people or step over people on your way, but this is also such a great illustration of how when you put someone who was popularity-obssessed in charge of, well, anything, it turned into a complete nightmare, and if you were one of the underlings who worked his or her ass off so that the princess could take all the credit, especially if you were changing things according to whatever stupid-assed whim she had, you wound up being very annoyed. And bitter. Really bitter. Do I seem bitter?
Anyway, there’s an Eighties innocence to this whole thing because nothing really horrible happens to Stephanie because of her behavior; then again, she’s kind of a poseur in that regard anyway, and I honestly don’t remember much of season 2, but I get the feeling she wasn’t as prominent. In other words, she got out of the way.