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Series / Breaker High

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Breaker High was a Canadian Teen Drama/Sitcom that aired from 1997 to 1998 for 40 episodes on UPN (in the U.S.) and YTV (in Canada). The show was about a high school on a cruise ship, and each episode took place in a different location around the world (though the show was filmed entirely in Burnaby, B.C.)

The show focused on eight students at the school:

  • Alex Pineda - The athlete. Played by Kyle Alisharan.
  • Ashley Dupree - The Southern Belle Princess. Played by Terri Conn.
  • Cassidy Cartwright - The preppy tomboy hottie. Played by Wendi Kenya.
  • Jimmy Farrell - The big eater/class clown. Played by Tyler Labine.
  • Max Ballard - The brooding, moody son of the ship's captain. Played by Scott Vickaryous.
  • Denise Williams - The academic overachiever/Feminist. Played by Persia White.
  • Tamira Goldstein - The quirky misfit/Flower child. Played by Rachel Wilson.
  • Sean Hanlon - The ladies' man/Nerd. Played by Ryan Gosling. One of his earliest recurring roles on television.

Breaker High contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure: The Ship.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Ashley, Tamira and Cassidy all expressed interest in Max at different points in the series.
  • Alliterative Name: Cassidy Cartwright.
  • Artist Disillusionment: In-Universe. Max gave up on his dreams of becoming a musician after one radio station rejected his demo tape. Cassidy resorts to considerable meddling in an attempt to convince Max that he is better than he thinks he is.
  • Belly Dancer: Shown while the class stops in Morocco during "Belly of the Beast".
  • Big Brother Instinct: Max falls for a gypsy girl in Spain, which her brothers are none too pleased about.
  • Big Eater: Jimmy
  • Big Storm Episode: The ship gets dangerously close to a hurricane in one episode.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: With his fashion and tastes, Sean would've fit in more during the Rat Pack days.
  • Bottle Episode: Several episodes take place entirely at sea.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Max with all of the other girls crushing on him, but especially Tamira.
  • Camp Gay: While Tony's sexuality is never made clear, it's a pretty safe bet.
  • Catchphrase: Jimmy: "That's gonna need some ice!"
  • Canada, Eh?: Though each episode took place in a different location, the series was filmed entirely in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Played with in the episode taking place in Prince Edward Island, where Jimmy confuses a pair of Canadian hockey players with Bob and Doug-esque Canadian terms:
    Player 1: What did he just say?
    Player 2: I dunno. must be some sort of weird American slang.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Tamira is notoriously bad at this.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Tamira's crush on Max for a good portion of the series. This trope resulted in Cassidy beating Tamira out for Max, which jeopardized their friendship for a few episodes.
  • Chain of Deals: In order for Sean to make a Chicago-style pepperoni pizza...
    • He must gain access to the galley from Nigel, who will give it to him if...
    • He gets a manicure, which Ashley will give him if...
    • She gets some extra phone minutes, which Alex will give up if...
    • He gets his lucky sweats mended, which a very seasick Denise will do if...
    • She gets some Dramamine, which Max will provide if...
    • He gets his boom box back from Capt. Ballard, who will give it back if...
    • He gets a note from Max promising not to play the boom box after hours, which Tamira will forge if...
    • She gets a photo of Max, which Cassidy will provide if...
    • She gets it back later, which Sean would have provided if Cassidy hadn't caught Tamira with the original. And that's where everything falls apart.
  • College Radio: Several characters host shows on Breaker High's "Shipwreck Radio":
    • "A Touch of Classics", hosted by Denise
    • "A Little Seandezvous", hosted by Sean
    • "Ask Miss Southern Teen", hosted by Ashley
    • "Oh, So You Think That's Gross?", hosted by Jimmy
  • Con Man: Sean and Ashley learn after they've bought their "authentic Turkish rugs" that they were actually made in Newark. They confront the merchant who swindled them and manage to get him on the local news.
  • Cool Boat
  • Cool Loser: Sean. The guy is played by Ryan Gosling and, for a good chunk of the series, could not get the girl.
  • Costume-Test Montage/Fashion-Shop Fashion Show: Ashley, Denise, and Cassidy, while looking for outfits to wear as "The Pepper Girls" for a singing competition in London.
  • Determinator: Tamira, in regards to getting on the ship. In "The Sun Ahso Rises," she tells Max that she worked for two summers to raise her half of the tuition to come on Breaker High.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Poor Sean can never get the girl, until Tamira.
  • Eccentric Artist: Max gets in trouble with his father for spray-painting on the walls of the ship. Turns out his paintings are pretty damn good.
  • Evil Chef: Nigel
  • Evil Teacher: After Tony resigns (not for the first time) due to the students' disrespect, he is briefly replaced by the sadistic Miss Pesler, who puts the entire ship through Gym Class Hell.
  • Fortune Teller: Tamira briefly develops Psychic Powers in Spain.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble:
  • Four-Man Band:
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The main cast consists of four guys and four girls.
  • Genius Ditz: For a guy known mostly as an absentminded, clumsy, foodstained goofball, Jimmy has a bizarre knack for every new thing he tries: rapping, belly dancing, modeling, cooking, abstract art...
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Sean engineers several of these, few of which succeed.
  • Gift of the Magi Plot: Ashley sells her tiara to buy Alex some fishing lures, not knowing that Alex sold his fishing rod to buy her a tiara case.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sean and Jimmy
  • High School
  • Intimate Artistry: Although they do share a kiss once before, Max and Cassidy's relationship begins in earnest after he sketches her in Paris. Subverted when Max sketches Denise, which is a purely platonic act. Zig-zagged when Alex wrongly believes Max has an ulterior motive behind sketching Ashley.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Max
  • Love Dodecahedron: Every main character except Denise and Jimmy is involved in a massive romantic entanglement toward the end of the series.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Sean becomes briefly convinced that Capt. Ballard is communicating with extraterrestrial life. He's actually using a satellite headset to listen to baseball games.
  • My Beloved Smother: A visit from Ashley's mother gives us a hint as to where her Vanity comes from.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Tamira
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Ashley passes off one of Tamira's poems as her own. She admits it out of guilt soon after.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Jimmy
  • Preacher's Kid: Jimmy, based on a flashback. It's heavily implied his parents put him on the boat in an attempt to straighten him out. More embarrassing than rebellious.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Capt. Ballard and Miss Mitchell.
  • Restaurant-Owning Episode: The gang spends one episode running a late-night eatery aboard the ship.
  • Sick Episode: Denise spends one episode suffering through a particularly nasty bout of seasickness.
  • Sneaky Departure: Tamira and Cassidy make one to a nightclub in Hong Kong.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Denise
  • Southern Belle: Ashley
  • Strip Poker: Sean loses his clothing to a young gambler in Egypt.
  • Successful Sibling Syndrome: Alex has a bad case of this toward his brother Lyle.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Averted. One episode involves rumors flying about one of these between Sean and Miss Mitchell, which turn out to be false.
  • Teen Drama
  • The '90s: Oh so much so. Most pop culture references quickly date the series.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Cassidy is the tomboy while Ashley is the girly girl.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Max