Series / Degrassi High
The immediate sequel to Degrassi Junior High
, and the show that solidly transformed the Degrassi
series into a full Soap Opera
. This series lasted from November, 1989 to January, 1991. A total of 28 episodes in two seasons.
Most of the episodes focused on the day-to-day problems of being a teen, such as bargaining for more freedom from your parents, preparing for life after graduation, and (especially) the perils and pitfalls of No Going Steady
. Every few episodes, a monster problem would hit, like AIDS, a kid running away from home, and so on. However, the cast were such a Dysfunction Junction
that the day-to-day episodes could feel almost as soap-opera and dramatic as the heavy-hitter ones. Without exception, every single storyline had a follow-up later.
Like the rest of the Degrassi
franchise, the series was intended as a tool for teaching teens about "hot-button" issues like abortion and AIDS. In many ways, it serves as a bridge between the individual episode focus of Degrassi Junior High
and the sprawling Soap Opera
of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
But in spite of that, it was far more continuity-heavy than Degrassi: The Next Generation,
with its Three Month Rule
and Heel–Face Revolving Door
At its best, Degrassi High
turned Loads and Loads of Characters
into True Companions
with a bond so real you could taste it, and a school that felt more real than almost any other on TV. It still has a ton of die-hard fans who love it like Star Trek
fans love their continuity. At its worst, it could be frustrating stew of too many Spear Carrier
characters and repetitive romantic subplots, made worse by regular Retcon
. The most striking innovation of the show was that all characters had Soap Opera
adventures even when the camera wasn't on them, and time visibly passed each episode — which made everything fit together, but also meant a ton of Second-Hand Storytelling
The series ended with a Grand Finale
movie, School's Out,
which caused an outcry by going Darker and Edgier
than anything Degrassi
(or almost any other teen show) had done at the time, with tons of Fanservice
(from actors who were real teenagers), drugs and alchohol, sex scenes, and characters turning very unpleasant. Most notable was using real cursing in a show that had never had it before — one foul-mouthed line became an instant Memetic Mutation
. Like many Darker and Edgier
shows, fans tend to either love it or hate it. (Of course, compared to Degrassi: The Next Generation
it feels almost quaint in a lot of ways — and yet, still Darker and Edgier
The series was followed up with Degrassi Talks,
a documentary special where Degrassi
actors interviewed people for real stories of drug addiction, domestic abuse, etc. interspersed with relevant clips from Degrassi High.
This show provides examples of:
- A Day In The Lime Light
- The Alleged Car: Clutch's Mustang II, Joey's older (but cooler if no less junky) Mustang Sportsroof, Snake's parents' huge, rusty '76 Oldsmobile, Spike's mom's Lada, Wheels' heavily beat-up Chevy Malibu wagon. It gives the impression that the production could only afford Alleged Cars for the characters to drive.
- An Aesop
- All for Nothing: Constantly.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Just like in Degrassi Junior High, it's very frequent.
- Heather's crush for Wheels.
- Alex likes Tessa, who has a crush on Joey (who doesn't seem to notice her until The Movie).
- Arthur loves Caitlin who is interested in Claude.
- Spike likes Snake, but he has still a crush on Michelle (ironically since in The Next Generation, Snake and Spike are a married couple).
- Alpha Bitch: Averted when Stephanie Kaye left Degrassi Junior High — this may be the only teen Soap Opera without one.
- Amy and especially Allison though they are only minor characters.
- Anti-Hero: Wheels.
- Ascended Extra: Maya, Michelle, Diana, Alex, Dwayne and Tessa. All of them were minor or background characters in Degrassi Junior High.
- Badass Beard: Scott the abusive boyfriend
- Bad Bad Acting
- Beta Couple: Simon and Alexa.
- Betty and Veronica
- Big Ego, Hidden Depths
- Birds of a Feather: Simon and Alexa.
- Bittersweet Ending: Almost half the episodes.
- Break the Haughty: Dwayne. Poor, poor Dwayne.
- Broken Bird: Liz.
- Brother Chuck
- The Bully: Dwayne (initially) and his minions, Nick and Tabi.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin'
- Darker and Edgier: School's Out.
- Dark Fic: School's Out according to those who find it overdone.
- Deconstruction: School's Out according to those who think it's an appropriate Bittersweet Ending.
- Demoted to Extra: Arthur and Yick. Along with Stephanie Kaye and Joey, they were the main stars of Degrassi Junior High (especially in season 1), and were often involved in a subplot in every episode. But no longer cute little kids, they were relegated to minor background players in Degrassi High.
- Melanie. She has even less screen time than Yick and Arthur in Degrassi High.
- Diabolus ex Machina
- Dirty Coward: Claude.
- The Ditz: Alexa and Simon - a rare ditz couple.
- Domestic Abuser: Scott, Kathleen's boyfriend.
- Downer Ending: Almost half the episodes.
- Drunk Driver: Wheels.
- Expy: Diana becomes a Darker and Edgier version of Voula from Degrassi Junior High.
- Fan Disservice: Joey, who is short and scrawny, gets two separate shots of his naked butt.
- Tessa and Alexa seem to enjoy it.
- Fanservice: In School's Out.
- Fawlty Towers Plot
- Former Child Star: Real Life example: of the show's actors who stayed in acting, most were hopelessly type-cast. A few of them even ended up playing the same characters on Degrassi: The Next Generation; although this would likely fall under Casting Gag.
- Freudian Excuse
- Funny Background Event: While Joey and Caitlin are sharing an emotional moment at the talented show, Wheels is dancing in the background in his Mexican outfit (complete with a huge sombrero covering his head).
- Gentle Giant: Snake.
- Gonk: Nick.
- Heel–Face Revolving Door: Dwayne.
- Hope Spot: In the first episode.
- Hustling The Mark: In one episode, the cool kids invite nerdy, insecure Arthur to their poker party so they can take him for all he's worth. He's totally out of his depth — at one point, he asks, "does three of a kind beat a full house?" But he suddenly starts winning, and by the last hand, it's down to Arthur and the host ...and Arthur wins almost all the money by bluffing when his hand is complete junk. The cool kids are amazed, then Arthur grins and says, "'Does three of a kind beat a full house?' You guys are so gullible.".
- Irony: Wheels lost his parents to a drunk driver, he ends up taking a life while driving intoxicated.
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: Pretentious Claude insists on having his name pronounced in the same manner as "clone".
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy
- Jerkass: Dwayne's minions and later Wheels after his Face–Heel Turn.
- Jerk Jock: Dale.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Joey. In School's Out he's more of a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk.
- Karma Houdini: The only penalty Luke ever faces is losing some money.
- Kudzu Plot: The use of Second-Hand Storytelling means we simply never find out how some things happened.
- Literal Genie: A complicated one in School's Out.
- Joey wanted to get laid. He got Tessa and Caitlin.
- Wheels didn't want to live with his grandparents. He isn't living with them at the end.
- Caitlin wanted to choose between university and love. Joey made the choice very easy for her.
- Snake wanted a lifesaving fantasy, but he still didn't lose his virginity.
- Living in a Furniture Store
- Loony Fan: Real Life example: Sara Ballingall, who played Melanie, was stalked for six years by a crazed Australian fan who kept an armory in his house.
- Love Triangle: Joey, Caitlin, and Claude were the main one.
- Magical Negro: BLT, Maya, and Patrick, a rare Magical Irishman.
- The Magic Poker Equation: Subverted in "The All-Nighter".
- The Masochism Tango: Joey and Caitlin, despite being deeply in love, would clearly make a horrible couple in the end, and some characters point this out in the show.
- Naïve Everygirl: Melanie, although she's a bit toned-down since Degrassi Junior High. Michelle also.
- Narm: Dwayne's kicking rampages are hilarious since he can barely lift his legs, and the Degrassi Talks theme song has a very 1980s sort of cheesiness to it; also done in-universe with one of Lucy's videos.
- No Going Steady
- No Respect Guy: Snake in School's Out. It made no sense when you consider he had multiple girls interested in him all through junior high and high school, and was respected by everyone.
- The Ojou: Lucy.
- Plucky Girl: Spike and Michelle.
- Positive Discrimination: Averted — even with three Magical Negro characters, some of the most unpleasant characters on the show are minorities.
- Precision F-Strike: The F-word is used twice in near-succession during the climax of "School's Out". Extremely jarring in that the show hardly ever used even mild swearing. Notable in that it's the first use of the f-word on Canadian television.
- Product Placement: Lots of appearances by Pepsi and Quaker Oats: including a character who almost always seemed to have a box of Dipps granola bars..
- Put on a Bus: Many. However L.D. is still mentioned by Lucy even in the last season.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: the opening sequence has a scene of Arthur's bike getting smeared with peanut butter — part of a bullying plot that was canceled when Arthur's actor suddenly hit his growth spurt.
- Romantic False Lead: Claude.
- School Newspaper Newshound: Lucy is a school film newshound.
- Second-Hand Storytelling
- A Simple Plan
- Slumber Party
- Smug Snake: Luke.
- Soap Box Sadie: A whopping four of them — Caitlin, Claude, Liz, and Lucy, and each one with a distinct style.
- Spear Carrier
- Spoiler Opening: The credits spoil a few things; far worse is the decision to put the Degrassi Talks episodes on the Degrassi Junior High DVDs, making it impossible to watch them in the order you see the discs without spoiling the biggest surprises.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Joey and Caitlin — arguably one of the best examples to ever come out of a Teen Drama series.
- Stylistic Suck - showcased spectacularly in the Talent Show auditions, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdC5lOHkEZ8&feature=relmfu
- Small Name, Big Ego: Joey.
- Teen Drama
- Terrible Trio: Dwayne, Tabi, and Nick. A huge dose of suspension of disbelief was needed to believe this very non-threatening looking trio could be Degrassi's top bullies.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Wheels and, to a lesser extent, Yick.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Kathleen.
- Those Two Guys: Amy and Allison.
- Valley Girl: Amy and Allison.
- Where Da White Women At?: BLT and Michelle
- Wild Teen Party
- Zany Scheme