Degrassi Junior High: 203 “Great Expectations”

Buying condoms… Wet dreams… 8th graders trying to be sexy… All the awkwardness of preteen sex, bottled up into one fantastic episode!
Season 2 Episode 3

Original Airdate: January 18, 1988

This is easily the most awkward episode in the series. Not that all of them aren’t awkward due to having bad acting, bad music, bad editing, and so on, but this episode that is supposed to help with awkward feelings about sex just makes everything more awkward.

Who’s this, shaking up Degrassi with her shaved head and visible bra straps? Why, it’s Liz O’Rorke, about three episodes late in transferring to a new school. Isn’t it like, October by now? Anyway, Liz is having difficulty adjusting, she says to her mom, because Degrassi is nothing but a bunch of “preppies.” Touche, Liz.

Stephanie K. is lookin’ mighty orange today. The two have a stare-down and Doris appoints Joey to walk Liz to class. Joey’s up to his usual corniness but somehow Liz doesn’t notice that he is a total moron.

At recess, or lunch, or tea time, or whenever these wacky Canadians decide it’s a good time to catch some fresh air during the middle of the school day, Joey brags about his luck with Liz. Wheels and Snake are the voice of reason, but Joey still manages to talk out of his butt: “Do you think Liz ‘does it?'” For some reason, Joey and the rest of the idiots at Degrassi are convinced she’s easy, by some complex middle-schooler algorithm I don’t understand.

Oh, and the word “narbo” is dropped just 2 minutes into this episode. Still don’t get it.

Even Wheelchair Girl glares at Liz. You know it’s bad when Wheelchair Girl stares at you. Must be those tank tops. Those are some pretty skanky tank tops. Skank tops, I’d call ’em.

I hate this plot more than any other plot so far. But plots like these are the reason Degrassi won awards (can you believe it won awards?). See, the first time I’d ever seen this show was in health class. Mind you, this was probably a good 20 years after the episode first aired, and they are probably still showing this crap on a friggin’ film projector to this day. But for some reason, that didn’t stop me from getting hooked on this stupid show.

Anyway, Yick walks into class to find Arthur hiding something. Naturally, BFFs like Arthur and Yick can’t keep secrets from each other, so Arthur reveals that he’s been having “weird dreams.” Yick is fascinated.

Alex, the nerd, has something important to tell Stephanie about student council, but it’s obvious that Stephanie doesn’t give a crap about useless extracurricular clubs because she kicks Alex out of her lair, the girls’ bathroom. Everybody knows that student council is only good for building your resume and hooking up.

Once inside her den, Stephanie drops trou. She’s back to her regular hooker attire, previously on hiatus because she realized she looked like a hooker. But apparently she’s forgotten that over the last 2 episodes.

Spike is blabbing about her pregnancy, as she will in every episode this season, when Liz walks out of the bathroom without washing her hands. Another glare-off goes down. That’s just plain unsanitary.

Joey seems to be the only person that likes Liz, and that’s sad, because Joey only wants to “do it” with her. But Liz falls for Joey’s corny jokes and agrees to be study partners with him, because she is desparate for friends. Plus she is trying to get some of Joey’s hair to make into implants to cover her bald spot.

Stephanie is talking to the twins for advice and gets the bright idea to drop her books in front of Simon so he’ll notice her. I don’t know which is a brighter idea: dropping books on a semi-famous local department store model’s feet, or asking Erica and Heather for advice. The two have never talked to a single boy, not once on this whole show. It seems like all they do in their free time is watch PSAs and after school specials, because that’s all they know how to talk about.

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Arthur and Yick bond over their changing bodies. Arthur can’t talk to his dad about it because he’s afraid his dad will think he’s a pervert. He calls himself a sex maniac. Yick is sensually eating a banana. Those two really are made for each other.

Spike sits next to Jane at lunch, who assures Jane that Degrassi is alright once you get to know people. I think the same is true of this show on the whole–at first glance, it looks retarded, but for some reason, you can’t stop watching, and then you start to like some of the characters, even though you are repulsed by the show and middle schoolers on the whole. Liz, however, doesn’t give in. Spike and Liz are supposed to bond over their wacky hairstyles but Liz, as you know, is a skank, so… she essentially gives Spike the finger.

Joey: “Girls are like aspirin, you take two and go to bed.”
Snake: “Ohhhh Liz! I’m Joey, go easy on me! I’m a virgin! Wehhh!”

Yeah, like you have anything to talk about, Snake.

Melanie awkwardly explains the menstrual cycle to Young Ethnic Girl, then awkwardly explains to the 7th grade class that she learned all about the nasty on Dr. Sally’s radio show. “Kathleen, don’t be such a prude. Just because you have a negative body image and enough sexual dysfunction to fill a swimming pool with, doesn’t mean you have to project it onto the rest of us.”

Joey compliments Liz’s hair like a dope and she invites him to study at her house… alone. Joey wets himself a little bit.

Stephanie is getting more useless advice from the PSA twins when Stephanie is about to ask Simon out. Alex interrupts the exchange, saying they’ve got some sort of vague sports match coming up and shoos him away from Steph. Check out Shane in those short shorts. No wonder Spike let him impregnate her.

After school, Joey asks Wheels for sex advice, since Wheels is Degrassi’s big stud. Remember that time when he almost did it? “Almost” only counts in horseshoes and middle school relationships. I don’t know why Joey doesn’t ask Shane for advice like all the girls ask Spike in later seasons. They’re the most active kids in the whole school, and they’ve done it exactly, uh, once.

Liz’s mom either works at Busch Gardens or some kind of Bavarian-themed strip club.

Joey’s trying to buy condoms at a convenience store, using that centuries-old technique of buying a whole bunch of other useless stuff to try to cover it up. Since the Degrassi writers have never heard of an original plot before, they resort to the old “price check” routine to draw attention to Joey’s naivete. These creepy old folks laugh at him. The old guy spotted Joey on the condom aisle, which means he was buying… ew.

I don’t care about the B-plot enough to talk about it anymore. Essentially Arthur and Yick cram themselves and a boombox into a phonebooth and call Dr. Sally. Arthur gets butterflies so Yick has to pop the question about Arthur’s “weird dreams.” Arthur gets mad for some reason and the two start sissy-fighting and calling each other broom-heads. Of course, Dr. Sally says he’s perfectly normal and yadda yadda yadda. The two then high-five like they’ve just scored or something.

Man Arthur, why can’t you be cool like your sister? This time last year, she was trying to get it on with Wheels. Then again, all of us can’t be super-sexy ladykillaz like Wheels.

Liz and Joey are studying the War of 1812, which is “stupid,” according to Liz. Joey babbles like he’s having a seizure and finally pops the queston to Liz: “Do you wanna do it?” Joey is not one to be graceful.

Needless to say, Liz mercilessly throws Joey out of the house.

The Stupid War of 1812 is sooo stupid. Sooo stupid, in fact, that we are given a close-up of Joey’s condom sitting atop a book about the Stupid War of 1812. If there’s any symbolism in this juxtaposition, it’s totally lost on me.

Wheels asks for a detailed account of Joey’s porkin’, but has no such luck. Joey admits he screwed everything up (as per usual) and that it’s extra bad because he actually liked Liz. The two longingly gaze at each other. Where Joey got the idea that Liz was a skank is still beyond me. At the beginning of the episode, he says it’s because of the way she dresses, but she’s just wearing jeans and a baggy t-shirt. By the transitive property, Joey needs to ditch the fedora and goofy hawaiian garb and don a baggy t-shirt and pajama pants if he wants to get any.

In the end, we’re back to the old status quo. Liz still hates Degrassi. Joey is still girlfriendless. Stephanie is still boyfriendless. The Stupid War of 1812 is stupid. Arthur and Yick are still gay for each other. Alex is still a friendless loser. Kathleen is still a prude.

It would’ve been a decent episode if it weren’t for that stupid Arthur/Yick plot. I hate those. Unfortunately they will permeate just about every episode in the first few seasons.

Despite all this, I think Liz got a pretty rockin’ introduction, with everybody thinkin’ she’s a loose woman and all. It’s obvious that the writers are trying to expand their audience from a bunch of lame white kids to a bigger bunch of lame white kids, but still. Trying is what counts. Except in Joey’s case.